What threats is the healthcare industry facing today?

CyberMDX took it upon themselves to answer this question in their 2020 Vision Report. "Following  2019, a year that saw the number of cyberattacks in healthcare triple from 2018 — from 15 million breached personal records to over 40 million — the CyberMDX team undertook a project to analyze the most significant healthcare breaches from 2019," says CyberMDX.

Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra, says that the results are not “surprising. Most medical devices are not updated as they serve a specific lifesaving function. While an OS update might seem benign, any interruption with the functioning of a medical device could have serious implications. Now this isn't a total excuse for not updating. Manufacturers need update testing processes that enable to have a timeline for validation and updating. Part of the problem is lack of accountability on the manufacturer. Often devices are brought in by medical staff and no one bothers to inform IT or security.”

Some of the key takeaways from the report include:

  • In the US, hackers find the most success targeting mid-sized or less well-known healthcare organizations outside of the nation's largest population centers
  • Four months after a vulnerability disclosure, the typical hospital will have patched 40 percent or fewer of their vulnerable devices
  • Medical devices are twice as likely as standard network devices to be vulnerable to Bluekeep
  • Medical devices are up to 5X more likely to be vulnerable to URGENT/11 compared to standard network devices
  • Medical information and health research data fetch a high price on the black market — as much as $1,000 per record. (Compared to $1 for a social security number and $110 for credit card details.) 
  • 15,085,302 individual medical records were breached globally in 2018 — representing a nearly 3X increase over the year prior. 2 Things are only getting worse with that figure having more than doubled — reaching nearly 32 million breached records — in the first half of 2019 alone
  • Healthcare is the most cyber-targeted industry, with a full third of all US data breaches happening in hospitals.
  • 80 percent of device makers and healthcare delivery organizations report that medical devices are very difficult to secure. The top reasons cited include lack of knowledge/ training on secure coding practices and pressure on development teams to meet product deadlines.
  • 53 percent of device makers say there is a lack of quality assurance and testing procedures that lead to vulnerabilities in medical devices. Similarly 58 percent HDOs explain medical device vulnerabilities on account of a perceived laxness in manufacturer QA processes. 
  • Device manufacturers also point to the development process as a cause for concern, with 50 percent citing the pressure to comply with highly condensed release cycles as a problem.
  • 71 percent of HDOs acknowledge that they lack a comprehensive cybersecurity program.
  • Just 18 percent of healthcare companies feel confident that they could detect a sophisticated cyber attack against their organization. 
  • 56 percent of HDOs believe an attack on a medical device they use is likely to occur within the next 12 months.
  • 67 percent of medical device manufacturers believe an attack on a medical device built is likely to occur within the next 12 months. 

"To understand the future of healthcare security we must first look at what has allowed attackers to be so successful," said Jon Rabinowitz, VP of Marketing at CyberMDX. "The vast amount of data we analyzed has given us greater insight into the challenges healthcare faces as an industry, and how we can help improve cybersecurity and mitigate future breaches."

Thomas Hatch, CTO and Co-Founder at SaltStack, says “IoT devices are notorious for being difficult to patch. The systems built around them are designed for, in this case, hospital medical staff, not maintenance. IoT devices get built for the target use case which makes them difficult to maintain because a single doctors’ office can be using many dramatically different devices; an entire hospital is even worse. So this is a tip of the iceberg problem, where the real vulnerabilities are much more vast than what we can even see.”

Charles Ragland, security engineer at Digital Shadows, similarly notes on the difficulty to secure IoT devices. “Maintaining a secure environment in healthcare remains difficult due to the large amount of connected devices, the length of time that those devices will be deployed, the difficulty of large scale asset management, and the dependency on Operational Technology for some devices involved in direct patient care. Many systems rely on outdated technology, due to the financial constraints involved with upgrades," he says.

"Between 2008 and 2018 I worked in healthcare, in several emergency rooms and on the ambulance as a paramedic. During that time, I recall seeing cardiac cath lab systems running on Windows Server 2003 and using an MS-DOS based electronic health record system for charting patient care, among other things. With the level of complexity that involves managing networks with vast amounts of connected devices, it is not surprising that many of these devices have slipped through the cracks and remain vulnerable to threats such as BlueKeep. As always, the most effective risk mitigation techniques involve turning off unnecessary services, implementing Network Level Authentication, blocking access to sensitive ports, and ensuring timely security updates,” says Ragland. 

To see the full report please click here