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We’re Worried About Healthcare Cybersecurity. You Should Be, Too.

by Erik Briceno

Technology has come a long way. Mostly, it’s improved our lives tremendously. With each new innovation, however, comes danger. And if anything, 2020 has already made this increasingly apparent even though we’re only in February (at the time of posting this article).

Today, we’re going to discuss something very important that affects all of us. There’s an industry that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the point where it’s actually putting lives in danger. While this may sound alarmist, the problem — and the stakes — are all too real.

To put it bluntly, our healthcare system’s cybersecurity is currently a disaster — and not one that’s “waiting” to happen, either.

Current Healthcare Cybersecurity Is Endangering Lives.

We share stories all the time about businesses, organizations, public services and even entire cities being locked down after being infected with ransomware. Hospitals are no stranger to this event. In fact, it was last June that five U.S. healthcare organizations were attacked and infected with ransomware all within a single week. A typical nightmare scenario is when doctors are unable to access vital systems and record-keeping software required to treat patients when time is of the essence and someone’s actual life is at stake. This is especially problematic when the lockdown is company-wide, and the patient literally has nowhere else they can go.

What about some more extreme possibilities, like when a blood type database is infiltrated and maliciously altered? Or how about the possibility of a pacemaker connected to a network being made to malfunction or purposely send shocks at the wrong time? These examples all may sound increasingly like paranoia — if it weren’t for the matter that they are factually real.

Technology Is Changing, and Our Healthcare System Can’t Keep Up.

There are more “connected” medical devices than ever before. As a result, healthcare providers now have to secure these devices as the “Internet of Things” (IoT) continues to proliferate throughout the industry. As more devices are added to the network, the chances and opportunities of an attack increase as well. Cybercriminals are constantly developing more sophisticated tools and techniques to attack healthcare organizations and gain access to their data, which they can use to hold this data and its networks for ransom.

Healthcare Is Slower to Respond to Cybersecurity Threats Than Other Industries.

When it comes to cybersecurity, our healthcare system is lagging behind. Hospitals have developed a reputation for frequently running outdated software and never patching their patients’ medical devices. Hospital staff are also frequently made to use terminals that are woefully out of date and well past their end of life (EoL). And to make matters even worse, whenever a hospital budget is cut, IT services are typically the first to go. Being an IT service ourselves, we may sound biased for saying this, but this is without a doubt one of the last things that should ever be cut from a budget.

Hospital Staff Are Frequently Untrained in IT Security.

We’re Worried About Healthcare Cybersecurity. You Should Be, Too.In addition to using antiquated systems and software, hospital staff members are frequently untrained in the realm of digital security. Many medical practices don’t have dedicated IT or cybersecurity personnel. After all, the majority of healthcare workers are in their field because they want to help patients. Unfortunately, as healthcare services have become more interconnected and dependent on networking software, hospital workers are now expected to wear multiple hats — at least one of which they’re not necessarily qualified for.

Our aim at V2 Systems is to provide peace of mind so that our customers don’t have to worry about technology. Worrying is our job. But when we take a closer look at how cybersecurity is handled in such an important institution like healthcare — something that affects all of us — we worry indeed. So please, let us help.

 

Since 1995, Manassas Park, VA-based V2 Systems has employed local systems administrators, network engineers, security consultants, help desk technicians and partnering companies to meet a wide range of clients’ IT needs, from research, to implementation, to maintenance. Concentrate on your VISION…We’ll handle the TECHNOLOGY!

ebriceno
About ebriceno
Erik Briceño is the owner of V2 Systems, Inc., one of Northern Virginia’s leading Information Technology Managed Service Providers. He is an inspiring leader for its employees and instrumental business partner for its customers. He is passionate about V2’s purpose, dedicated to exceeding expectations and a consummate professional not afraid of jumping in and getting his hands dirty. Prior to joining V2 Systems in 2002, Erik was a co-founder and COO of Ampcast.com, a leading provider of online resources servicing over 5,000 independent musical artists. At Ampcast.com, Erik spearheaded all aspects of corporate development, funding, strategic vision, and business development for the firm. From 1997 to 1999 Erik held the position of Acoustic Systems Engineer for Electric Boat Corporation, a leading defense contractor. In this role, Erik was responsible for the acoustic fidelity of two noise critical systems and components in the US Navy’s nuclear submarine systems. Erik holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and a Masters of Business Administration from George Mason University. When not working, you will find Erik a dedicated family man, raising two young children with his lovely wife Karen. Together, they enjoy building legos, playing baseball, skiing, riding horses, swimming, traveling, and fixing up old Mopars.
We’re Worried About Healthcare Cybersecurity. You Should Be, Too.
We’re Worried About Healthcare Cybersecurity. You Should Be, Too.