Medical devices under cyber threat certainly make for some scary headlines. It’s not even an exaggeration when we say that healthcare essentials are the upcoming security nightmares; with hackers on a constant lookout for gaining access to secured systems. Data breaches in healthcare industry primarily revolve around patient records and other sensitive information like financial and operational information of both- patients and hospitals. The recent outburst of ransomware has been added to the list of threats faced by healthcare institutions. With the ‘Internet of Things’ being the next big thing, the healthcare industry has also shown wide adoption of the same. IoT is quite impactful when it comes to leveraging devices and technologies in the best possible manner. However, it has also opened many more doors for data breaches and cyber-attacks. Ransomware has taken prominence in this ‘connected’ environment and poses a lot more danger than what meets the eye.
Understanding the ransomware threat to healthcare IoT
There was a time when enterprises had to worry about cyber security risks concerning only computers and standalone devices. However, with the proliferation of IoT, the cyber space has become vulnerable to threats of greater magnitude. IoT devices are prone to data breaches and attacks, courtesy a weakened security module. Unlike the conventional devices that are hard-coded, the IoT mesh isn’t the most updatable network on offer. Moreover, the existing devices sheltered under one network are purchased via different manufacturers and therefore have varied security standards on-board. Thus, scrutinizing, controlling and tracking becomes exceedingly difficult.
These issues make IoT devices more vulnerable to threats. The healthcare sector specifically can incur losses of humongous proportions due to the same. The worst thing about the IoT devices is that ransomware attackers can leverage the weakest link for gaining entry into the network. Although certain networks can be strengthened with frequent firmware updates, IoT security will always remain a matter of concern. Be it a conventional insulin pump or the generic pacemaker— there are many healthcare devices that can be hacked and made money off. There have been numerous instances of ransomware attacks within the healthcare industry with hospitals paying off a fortune for regaining patient records and medical files. However, what needs to be considered is that hackers can easily put innocent lives at risk and the extensive inclination towards healthcare IoT is actually allowing them to do the same.
Read more: Healthcare: Cybersecurity risks with vendors
How to safeguard healthcare industry from IoT-specific cyber-attacks?
The first approach towards IoT security should include awareness regarding cyber threats and the cyber security measures. Industry specialists must realize that apart from providing superior treatments, a lot of responsibility related to security of patients and their information also rests on their shoulders. IT heads within the healthcare industry should look deeper into the loopholes concerning information security and electronic records.
Even the device manufacturers need to be vigilant enough regarding the existing security standards associated with the IoT essentials. At present, there is a substantial amount of adherence between the existing devices which should be minimized to achieve the best possible results. The onus is now on the industry specialists for pressurizing device manufacturers towards achieving perfection.
Having a baseline pattern in place can also help mitigate the ransomware threats. Anything that looks deviating must be treated as an abnormality and dealt with immediate attention. Healthcare specialists should incorporate the likes of MSSPs or Managed Security Service Providers for addressing offsite and onsite cyber security issues— precisely for addressing potential breaches.
When it comes to the functionality, IoT devices do have a lot to offer. Be it treating patients with perfection or providing flexibilities to the healthcare professionals, Internet of Things has transformed the medical sector in the best possible manner. However, there is a lot of data generated by the connected devices and therefore privacy and security are the obvious concerns. Therefore, the industry specialists and technicians must opt for proactive measures for keeping cyber-attacks to a minimum.