Health care takes another hit

February 23, 2016 Arctic Wolf Networks

Of the approximately 781 data breaches that the Identify Theft Resource Center tallied in 2015, more than 250 of them affected the health care industry. Some of the year’s largest-scale breaches, including an Anthem breach that impacted a little under 80 million people, were against organizations in the health care sector.

Unfortunately, 2016 does not seem to bode any better for health care.

Hollywood hospital is hit with ransomware

The first high-profile breach of the year in health care was against The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. Unlike some of the massive data breaches that expose millions of patients’ health care records, this particular cyberattack was a terrifying, but textbook, example of ransomware.

According to CSO, the malware shut down critical computer systems for days, forcing the hospital to declare the situation an internal emergency. Some patients had to be moved to other facilities, and it was reported that CT scans, lab work and pharmacy needs were crippled. Hospital staff had to resort to pen, paper and fax machines for record keeping and communication purposes.

The incident does not mark the first ransomware attack executed against a health care organization, and it very likely won’t be the last. As long as hackers stand to gain from these exploits, they will continue to employ them – and in the case of The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, they gained plenty. According to The Los Angeles Times, the hospital paid the hackers responsible a total of $17,000 in bitcoin to get them to end the attack.

Heightened cybersecurity is needed

The attack on the hospital was unprecedented mainly because of how effective it was, as well as the steep ransom tied to the malware. However, for the most part, the cyberattack is reflective of the general aggressiveness and resourcefulness of modern hackers. Instances of ransomware in particular have significantly increased, according to the Online Trust Alliance. Unfortunately, this rise in ransomware correlates with another, slightly more alarming trend.

According to the OTA, 91 percent of data breaches that occurred between January and August of 2015 could have been avoided. Careless oversights such as failure to patch servers or encrypt data, as well as lost laptops and other work devices accounted for as many as 30 percent of all successful cyberattacks.

These findings are very problematic, and are indicative of the need for smarter cybersecurity. There are so many possible breach points to even the most well-guarded business networks, and many of them are created by insiders. Even the strongest, most seemingly impenetrable firewall is rendered useless if hackers somehow steal the keys to the network, whether through a clever phishing scam, social engineering or because of a lost mobile device.

Smarter detection starts with a security operation center

What businesses really need is a way to catch a breach early. Whether this entails malware that, if allowed to spread, will encrypt entire drives, or the slow siphoning of sensitive data over a period of months, administrators must have a comprehensive portrait of what is happening in the network at any given time.

In the past, this was the role of SIEM software. That said, many companies turned away from the traditionally costly and time-consuming deployment processes. Times have changed, however, and so has SIEM.

“Health care organizations have a lot to lose in a cyberattack.”

Now, mid-market businesses in health care and other industries can swiftly and affordably deploy comprehensive detective defenses for their networks by leveraging the services of a security operation center.

SOC-as-a-service supplies many of the same benefits of traditional SIEM, but with the added benefit of a dedicated security engineer who constantly monitors the network for unusual or suspicious activity. This engineer also supplies regular reports that highlight possible security flaws in the business network, allowing organizations to preempt possible cyberattacks.

Health care organizations have a lot to lose in a cyberattack. As the recent attack on The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center shows, this doesn’t always entail the theft of protected health information.

Hackers who would shut down hospital systems for extortion are no better than terrorists, and defending against their malicious ploys demands a strategic approach top cybersecurity, which is precisely what businesses get with SOC-as-a-service,

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