How Cyber Threats in Healthcare are Evolving – And What to Do About It

Healthcare IoT

Historically, cybersecurity practices in the healthcare industry have revolved mainly around securing medical records and ensuring patient privacy. However, the increasing reliance on operational technology (OT) throughout hospitals and healthcare networks has caused an evolution in cyberattacks.

The uptick in interconnected devices in the medical field has created tremendous benefits for patient care, diagnosis and treatment. However, it has also resulted in countless new entry points for hackers to breach a health system’s network. Now, cybersecurity breaches in healthcare networks could lead to far more serious ramifications, potentially impacting operations that could endanger individual patients and even entire hospitals.

Once a hacker gains access to the healthcare network, they can impact a wide range of health functions. From intercepting and modifying a prescription between the doctor’s office and the pharmacy, to turning off or modifying medical devices such as pacemakers or heart rate monitors, these attacks can have fatal consequences. Already, the three U.S. manufacturers of implanted pacemakers and defibrillators have been issued warnings for cybersecurity warnings for their devices. Most recently, the FDA recalled more than 465,000 devices that treat irregular heartbeats, after a safety commission discovered a cybersecurity vulnerability that could impact performance of the devices.

On an even larger scale, a breach to a hospital’s network could give hackers access to critical infrastructure functions such as water or electricity. Consider the outcome if those resources were cut off during a critical medical procedure.

Fear of the consequences from these types of attacks puts a tremendous amount of power in the hands of the hacker. When the wellbeing of individual patients, or entire hospitals, is held for ransom, there is little that an organization wouldn’t do to quickly resolve the situation. As a result, ransomware attacks seem like a lucrative strategy and have attracted a new breed of cyber criminals.

The best, and only reasonable way to mitigate threats from the rapidly growing population of hackers is to establish a solid defense that focuses on identifying and eradicating vulnerabilities, rather than honing in on specific attack vectors. For most organizations, this means a shift in their overall approach to network security.

In an industry like healthcare where it is almost impossible to divorce yourself from the physicality of interconnected devices, it is critical to deploy isolation and containment tactics throughout your infrastructure. The LinkGuard platform from Blue Ridge Networks does just that, by establishing a self-contained cybersecurity ecosystem that protects organizations from vulnerabilities posed by connected devices, networks, and people. As a result, LinkGuard eliminates vulnerabilities at the source by isolating and cloaking medical devices themselves making them invisible to hackers and the public network. This drastically reduces the attack surface of the network before attackers can penetrate network barriers and move laterally to cause serious damage.

Learn more about LinkGuard and the benefits of a prevention, rather than detection approach to cybersecurity here.