Healthcare workers are working on the frontlines to save lives during the COVID-19 crisis but also tasked with handling the confidentiality of patient information, their safety as well as communication between physicians and patients.
We can learn from the first wave of COVID that the healthcare industry can take preventive measures to secure clinical networks, protect medical services and assure patient safety today and in the future.
Healthcare’s cyber vulnerabilities
The article focuses on the global cyber risks landscape containing the current COVID-19 pandemic. The main vulnerabilities which have been seen during the first wave of the Covid-19 cyber-security attacks are:
- Attacks which take off DNS or hijack router DNS settings through weak or default admin passwords
- Connected medical devices, or Internet of Things devices, are prominently vulnerable to cyber threats. Many were not outlined to connect to networks and don’t have any in-built cybersecurity protocols. More than 70% of IoT devices work on unsupported Windows operating systems that are no longer supported and can’t be covered.
- Healthcare IoT is susceptible to Standard security tools: Medical connected IoT devices have isolated communications patterns. Without medical context, standard firewall and NAC policies could disturb the normal function of crucial devices and put patient safety at a risk.
- Clinical network topologies are in a continuous state of irregularity. There are near about 10 billion IoT devices connected to the global clinical ecosystem today, and many devices are connected in every second where 50 billion devices are estimated by 2028. Most of the devices are connected without proper security checks and several are shifted between wards completely unchecked. To maintain track of them all without an automated IoT asset management solution is a tough task.
- Hospitals, insurance companies, medical device manufacturers and other groups all over the ecosystem are improvingly utilizing internet-enabled technologies. Many times these technologies and the software they operate are exclusive and unique to each device manufacturer as well as for hospital. The custom nature of these products hampers cyber breach prevention and a curative effort because upgrading them is often difficult, costly and breaks compatibility across various platforms in a health system.
Current COVID’s impact on healthcare ecosystem security
The crisis has made the healthcare industry’s cybersecurity challenges more complex:
- With the day by day increase in the patients, hospitals are understaffed, from medical staff to cybersecurity professionals.
- Medical Equipment shortages along with a flow of patients in pandemic mean devices are curved up to the network without any cybersecurity checks.
- Emergency quarantine wards and field hospitals need cross-site equipment relocation, further enlarging the attack surface and complicating compound clinical topologies.
In spite of these barriers, healthcare industries should overcome them as cybersecurity is a prime concern in the healthcare industry.
Embrace Preventive Measures
Healthcare industries can resolve most of their IoT cybersecurity challenges by taking the following preventive measures:
- Minimize the attack surface of the clinical network by restricting communications between devices to only those that are required to keep medical services.
- Initiate with a cybersecurity awareness campaign – For healthcare Industries, patients as well as employees to stay safe. An expert from IT to medical professionals requires being aware of cyber risks and hygiene best practices.
- Embrace a zero-trust security policy –With the help of the zero-trust policy, healthcare sectors can restrict access to crucial data such as electronic personal health information and minimize the surface attack. Zero-trust policies also support limit the reach of external attacks by terminating the diffusion of the infection into sensitive devices on the network.
- Enroll in a Healthcare IoT security program – Automated security solutions can clarify and accelerate healthcare IoT cybersecurity projects. They combine easily with IT tools and improve them with the medical context hospitals require to keep devices away from downtime and assure constant clinical services.
The current world may be bothered by things we can’t manage, such as hackers stealing critical health information and an expanding wave of COVID infections. Apart from all such hurdles, we do have control over the steps we take to minimize them