Healthcare organizations hit hard by cyberattacks in 2014

December 15, 2014 Arctic Wolf Networks

As 2014 comes to a close, much of the conversation in the cybersecurity industry has been dominated by retail data breaches and the effect things like POS malware have had on businesses. However, one of the biggest cyberattack trends this year has been malware targeting healthcare organizations.

A recent report from IDC Health Insights entitled "Business Strategy: Thwarting Cyber Threats and Attacks Against Healthcare Organizations," found that cybersecurity is the main concern of healthcare providers, with nearly 60 percent of survey participants reporting increased spending on security solutions over the last three years.

"Today's healthcare organizations are at greater risk of a cyber-attack than ever before, in part because electronic health information is more widely available today than in the nearly 20 years since the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996," said IDC Health Insights research vice president Lynne A. Dunbrack. "For healthcare organizations, it's not a matter of whether they are going to be attacked but when."

The increased spending on cybersecurity is due in part to the fact that 100 percent of organizations surveyed have experienced a cyberattack within the last 12 months. Even more troubling, 39 percent of those organizations suffered 10 or more data breaches during that same time period. More than one-quarter of those attacks were considered to be successful in stealing information or obtaining network access.

Historically, healthcare organizations have spent less money on network protection than other industries with large volumes of sensitive information, such as financial services. Because of this, cybercriminals find groups in this sector to be easy targets. Additionally, patient data is some of the most valuable information on the market today, as numerous types of fraud can be committed with a small amount of data from a patient's file. According to IDC, health information is surpassing Social Security and credit card numbers in desirability for hackers.

Lasting effects of a data breach affect patient relationships 
Malicious hacking and IT incidents were the most frequently reported security incidents reported to the Department of Health and Human Services according to IDC. More than 40 percent of participants reported experiencing security intrusions that lasted as long as 24 hours. This is very problematic for healthcare organizations considering the report discovered that 21 percent of patients would end a relationship with their healthcare provider after a data breach occurred.

"Healthcare cybersecurity strategies need to take a comprehensive approach and include not only react and defend capabilities but also predict and prevent capabilities to effectively thwart cybercriminals," read a statement from IDC Health Insights. "…[H]ealthcare organizations will need to invest in threat intelligence reporting which combines reports from security vendors and the organization's own network logs. Predictive analytics can then be applied against these external and internal data feeds to help identify behaviors that suggest that systems are being compromised and under attack."

One of the best ways to implement predictive analytics and preventative capabilities in an organization is through the use of security information and event management services. Healthcare providers can make the most of their newly enhanced IT budgets with a Managed SIEM solution which provides continuous monitoring of privileged networks to learn system behavior. Any anomalous or suspicious activity is flagged and recorded for later analysis which can then be used to create a more comprehensive defense strategy.

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