There is consensus among cybersecurity researchers that the number of attacks against the healthcare industry is growing exponentially. As we move forward through 2020 and beyond, health providers should be aware of the evolving threat landscape and the high degree of cunning modern attackers possess.

This article will first highlight a few top trends to watch in 2020, followed by next-generation solutions threat-focused organizations should consider.

What Are the Risks?

1. Highly Targeted Ransomware

Many security experts believe we’ll see a surge in the number of targeted ransomware attacks against healthcare providers this year. Whereas the old paradigm of distribution was mostly opportunistic, researchers say cybercriminals are starting to use more deliberate distribution strategies, focusing in on specific networks at specific organizations.

2. The Mass Adoption of IoT

The number of healthcare providers adopting IoT devices is growing at an exponential clip. This includes everything from patient-centric devices, like connected pacemakers and insulin pumps, to provider-centric technology, like remote monitoring and operations management systems.

While on the one hand, IoT presents an enormous opportunity for better health outcomes, it also provides new, often less bolstered avenues for attackers. According to reports, over 80% of connected health devices were targeted in 2018. With the number of devices expected to balloon in 2020 and beyond, providers and manufacturers must do more to protect patients.

3. Insider Threats

In studying nearly 100 malicious insider incidents, Carnegie Mellon University found that fraud was the primary motivator driving insider attackers. According to the study, insiders often attack within their first five years, and the likelihood is about equal across age groups; twenty-somethings accounted for 27.8%, thirty-somethings accounted for 25.9% and forty-somethings account for 31.5% of the insider attacks studied. Most attackers were full-time employees and relied on rudimentary techniques, such as abusing access rules or creating an alias to steal customer data.

What Are the Solutions?

The Emerging Solutions

Solutions on the horizon range in depth and efficacy. For example, one way to revive a ransomware-infected system without bending to extortion attempts is to restore from a backup. However, given the massive troves of data healthcare providers generate on any given day, it’s common for backups to be several weeks or months old.

This is where emerging technology like 5G will make a huge impact. Not only is 5G helping to usher in the era of smart health—providing the underlying infrastructure for IoT, big data and cloud-based healthcare—it’s also radically changed data transfer, allowing providers to clone entire systems within a more reasonable timeframe.

Next-generation networking (NGN) technology promises even more. Engineered to deliver a better end-user experience, next-generation networking consolidates the myriad network transport technologies we rely on today into a single transport layer based on IP. This approach allows for simplified messaging protocols, making distributed VR /AR, intelligent sensors and on-demand bandwidth a reality.

The Current Solutions

According to the best estimates, NGN ubiquity is still 5 to 10 years away. In the meantime, providers can rely on the best available tools and appliances to protect patients, networks and employees. Cisco offers many cutting-edge security solutions, providing reliable networking, robust security and built-in compliance.

For example, Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) offers next-generation threat detection and removal. AMP is a web-based platform that provides threat intelligence, sandboxing and other industry-leading malware management features.

Another popular industry solution, Cisco Umbrella, offers unified security that helps secure healthcare organizations with remote workers or multiple branch locations. With Umbrella, your IT staff will have the tools to closely monitor threats such as ransomware as well as keep an eye on insider threats.

Cisco Umbrella and its other security solutions are supported by Cisco Talos, a global, round-the-clock threat intelligence research team. Talos finds out about new threat vectors as soon as they emerge and works counter cybersecurity measures into Cisco’s security offerings. That way, all your Cisco security technology can recognize and block the vast majority of threats—even new and obscure ones.

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Custom Computer Specialists has a track record of helping healthcare organizations modernize and secure their operations. We’ve developed a guide to next-generation networking in healthcare to help you modernize and secure your practice. Download the free guide now.

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