Last year was an especially stressful time for healthcare systems. Not only were emergency rooms overwhelmed by patients, a number of them were also hit by system-crippling cyberattacks. According to Comparitech, in 2020 alone, 92 ransomware attacks affected over 600 healthcare organizations, exposing more than 18 million patient records. These attacks brought operations to a standstill for days or weeks at a time, costing the healthcare industry an estimated $20.8 billion.
Why were hospitals so frequently breached by attacks? To answer that question, I turned to an old friend of Lookout — former CISO Mike Murray. Mike, who’s currently the Founder and CEO of Scope Security, a cybersecurity company focused on providing managed detection and response solutions for healthcare, joined me on Security Soapbox to dig deeper into this topic.
He says a big reason that healthcare organizations are lucrative targets is because — in addition to having valuable private health information — they also have all the same financial information a bank would hold. I’ll let you listen to the whole episode to hear Mike’s thoughts on cybersecurity in the healthcare sector, but here’s a sneak peek at what we discussed.
Complex security environment, with a fraction of the resources
According to Mike, what makes a healthcare system challenging to secure is its complex environment and lack of resources. A major financial institution will often employ thousands of security analysts. By contrast, hospital systems may be fortunate to have upwards of a couple dozen security personnel.
On top of that, hospitals have different types of technology meshed together within a single infrastructure. In contrast, manufacturing organizations usually have information technology (IT) — laptops, desktops, switches, routers, etc. — at its corporate offices; and operational technology (OT), heavy equipment, etc. on its shop floor. This makes it more straightforward for their security teams to segment security responsibilities as they only have to manage one thing at a time per location. Hospitals don’t have that luxury as both IT and OT are often found in the same room. In addition, healthcare institutions have to secure their electronic health record (EHR) system that serves as the hospital’s operating system.
It’s only going to get more complicated
Telemedicine is introducing unmanaged devices to the mix, with doctors meeting patients virtually. As 5G ramps up, we will likely see more sensitive healthcare activities happening outside hospital walls even when the device is within hospital walls. This is because the carrier 5G network may be faster than the hospital’s secure Wi-Fi network.
I won’t spoil the podcast for you, but a key takeaway from my conversation with Mike is that the already complicated healthcare security environment will only get more complex as digital transformation accelerates.
If you would like to learn more about how to secure your healthcare organization from endpoint to cloud, check out our healthcare solution page.
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