Securing Healthcare: The Cybersecurity Challenge in Hospitals

Hospitals present attractive targets for cybercriminals due to a combination of factors:

  • Hospitals play a vital role in the functioning of a country, and they cannot afford to cease operations, making them prime targets for ransomware attacks.
  • These healthcare institutions handle vast quantities of highly sensitive and therefore valuable data.
  • Hospital staff members encompass a wide range of roles, from accountants to surgeons, with many possessing specialized skills but lacking high-level IT expertise. Additionally, hospital networks are often replete with various internet-connected devices that may not be regularly updated, or they might be running outdated or niche software, which increases their vulnerability. This situation is often compounded by overworked IT staff and limited cybersecurity budgets.

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Here is a concise checklist of vulnerabilities that hospital networks may face, helping you assess the readiness of your network against the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats:

  • Ransomware Attacks: Hospitals are prime targets for ransomware due to their critical services. Attackers encrypt patient data and demand ransoms, compelling payment if proper backups and cybersecurity measures are lacking.
  • Inner Vulnerabilities: Often exploited through social engineering like phishing. Implementing security measures such as DNS protection is crucial to prevent users from accessing malicious domains, especially given varying IT skills among staff.
  • Incident Response and Malware Activation: Even when malware infiltrates the network, it must establish communication with its originator for a successful ransomware attack to occur. Interrupting this communication adds an extra layer of protection, serving as a backup when the initial defenses falter.
  • Legacy Systems and Software: Hospitals often rely on outdated systems with unpatched vulnerabilities, making them easy targets for hackers.
  • Medical Device Vulnerabilities: Connected medical devices may have security flaws that hackers could exploit to access networks, risking data breaches and medical equipment disruption.
  • IoT Devices: Protecting IoT devices is challenging; network-wide protection is essential to prevent vulnerabilities in embedded software from being exploited.
  • Devices Not Protected on the Network Level: Deploy network-layer security to safeguard against niche software vulnerabilities not covered by standard threat intelligence feeds.
  • Remote Work and Telehealth Security: Ensuring the security of remote connections and telehealth platforms is essential to protect patient data.
  • Home Office Security: For non-medical staff working from home, integrating security measures within the existing network-wide solution ensures safety and compatibility.
  • Staff and Time Constraints: Overloaded IT staff and user neglect of software updates pose challenges. Solutions that minimize user interactions can help.
  • High-Maintenance and Hard-to-Implement Protection: Seek solutions that operate independently and offer automated notifications to facilitate swift response.
  • Leaked Credentials: Combat the common practice of using the same passwords across multiple accounts by monitoring and notifying domain owners of credential leaks.
  • Identity Protection: Notify domain owners of credential leaks, even from the distant past, to mitigate potential security threats.
  • Lack of Cybersecurity Awareness: Train staff to recognize and respond to cyber threats, reducing the risk of unintentional security breaches.
  • Users' Interaction with Security Solutions: Employ solutions that act as a barrier between threats and the network, minimizing the impact of user errors.
  • Interconnected Systems: Vulnerabilities in one system, like electronic health records or billing systems, can compromise the entire network's security.

    If you find that not all the checkboxes on the list have been ticked, it's quite likely, as conventional solutions often struggle to match the ever-evolving tactics of hackers. The key is to establish a multi-tiered defense strategy that extends and fortifies your cybersecurity perimeter.

Contact our DNS4EU consultant if you want to discuss a protection for your hospital.  

 

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