Internet Security

Cyber Attacks in the Healthcare Sector: Diagnosis and Treatment

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Healthcare sector is an inevitable part of the society that has not only helped in increasing the lifespan but also, has improved the quality of life. Healthcare is one of the fastest developing sectors since the measure of development it has seen is incomparable to other sectors. Unlike other sectors, almost everyone is connected to this sector.

The advancement in technology has resulted in advancement in the healthcare sector as well. Medical devices are being based on the state-of-the-art technology. From simple wearable devices like smart inhalers, insulin pen, continuous glucose monitoring device, connected contact lenses to equipment such as MRI machines, smart drills, smart beds et. Researchers are using virtual reality to integrate robotic in medical surgeries. Even a few surgeries are being performed by robots in some parts of the world.

According to a report, healthcare sector has been the number one target with losses accounting to $1 billion. There are number of reasons behind its popularity among the attackers.

According to a report by Ponemon institute, within the timespan of two years, 89% of the healthcare organizations have suffered from data breaches in the U.S that resulted in the loss of an estimated $6.2 dollars to the sector.

As per HIPAA journal, breach in patient records during the year 2018 have doubled to more than 13 million records.

Journal of Cyber security predicts that there is a 75.6% chance of potential breach in 5 million records during the next year.

Huge database: In many cases of healthcare breaches, it has been observed that attackers breach into database, access patients records, steal them and sell them. According to a report, patient records are being sold for a meagre $50 on the dark web. In countries like U.S. attackers can access expensive medical services, products as well as expensive medicines with the help of stolen medical records. Healthcare sector has proven to be extremely fruitful for the attackers with a single record costing at an average $408.

Take the case of Anthem breach for example. Treated as the biggest data breach attack in the healthcare industry. On 4th of February 2015, attackers hacked into the server of Anthem Inc. and stole the records of 78.8 million people.

Around 1.5 million patient records including the record of country’s prime minister, were accessed from Singapore government’s health database.

Research: Healthcare sector survives on research, invention and implementation. There was a time when a simple case of ‘fever’ would have cost a life. Nowadays, medical science has become advance enough to treat almost every form of cancer. Let alone a case of ‘fever’. The credit goes to the continuous research that is taking place in the healthcare sector. Many healthcare companies have become multi-million businesses because of an invention that has changed the medical science. Many of the cyber-attacks have led to attackers hacking into the system, stealing valuable research data and stealing it to the competition.

To mint money: As per the 2018 Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware attacks account to 85% of all the cyber-attacks on the healthcare sector. In 2016 alone, 88 percent of all the ransomware attacks were targeted on the healthcare sector in U.S. Indiana based healthcare system, Hancock health was hit by a ransomware attack that locked up the computers. The attack costed the company around $55,000 in bitcoins.

This integration of technology, its connectivity and reach within healthcare sector has made this sector extremely susceptible to cyber-attacks.

These statistics are extremely concerning since vulnerable and sensitive information such as PHI is in the hands of malicious entities that can misuse this information. On an average, 60 to 80 percent of the data breaches go unreported. As per the Thales report, only 32% of the organizations use encryption to protect their cloud data. Organizations are investing their money in security tools that are not updated and are unable to protect the data effectively. Healthcare industry invests less than 6% of its budget in cybersecurity.

Putting money where it belongs

Organizations are required to invest their money in the cyber security of their organization. They need to adopt cyber-security measures that are capable to protect sensitive data and information from cyber-attackers. Managed security services such as Penetration Testing, help organizations in patching loopholes that might give attackers an access to the system.

Employee Awareness

It has been discovered that 90% of the cyber-attacks take place due to employee negligence. Cyber -attacks like Phishing and Ransomware are deployed through emails. A single click can destroy the entire organization. It is therefore, extremely important to conduct training programs for employees that can help them understand the methodology of such attacks.

Restricting the access

Organizations should limit employee access across different levels of the network. This will limit the risk exposure towards probable cyber-attacks.

Securing the ‘smart’ devices

Many medical equipment is based on ‘IoT’ technology. It is therefore, extremely important to secure these devices. IoT devices security testing helps in minimizing the vulnerabilities that might damage the entire infrastructure of the organization.

The world is changing every second. ‘Older’ decays and ‘new’ blooms. That’s how nature works. It is important to shed the older methods that have proven to be ineffective in the long run.

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IW2 Research Team
A group of researchers at IndianWeb2.com including the Editor.

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