SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Cyber attacks: A growing risk for healthcare professionals

Mon 5 Dec 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

While data breaches in the financial and government sector tend to resonate more in consumers’ minds, it is in fact the healthcare industry that is becoming a popular target for hackers and data thieves. Earlier this year, more than one million personal and medical records of Australian citizens donating blood to the Red Cross Blood Service were exposed online in Australia’s biggest data breach to date. Additionally there were also fears sensitive medical information was leaked in a Medicare data breach.

When considering both the hack attempts and the latest findings of the Breach Level Index, the healthcare sector accounted for 27 percent (or 263 incidents) of data breaches in 2016. Compared to financial, which was only 12% (118 incidents), and even government, a surprising 14 percent (137 incidents), it is clear that Australians’ medical records are of significant value.  

However, the question remains, why is the healthcare industry becoming such a popular target for hackers and data thieves? To put it simply, the answer is in the data. Let us not forget that not only do medical records usually contain payment and billing information, leaving credit card information exposed, but they also often contain information that could enable a hacker or impostor to obtain medical services under the victim’s identity and private healthcare insurance benefits.

Given there has been such a huge focus on other sectors like financial and government, the healthcare industry has often been thought of as a ‘spectator’ in terms of data breaches. Furthermore, seeing as medical data is not protected enough, as demonstrated by the breach data results, healthcare providers are an easy target for hackers and data thieves.

Cyber-criminals are now finding more and more creative ways to steal data – and identifying spaces where it’s relatively easy to do this – and as a result of this healthcare professionals are increasingly falling victim to data theft. It is now more crucial than ever for the healthcare sector to prioritise patient data protection, given the industry is moving at incredible pace digitally.  

As well as this trend, ransomware has recently surfaced in this space and is currently demonstrating just how vulnerable many medicals records are. As the name suggests, hackers are able to break into a healthcare institution network and server, encrypt the data or take control of the encryption system used for securing or backing up its data, change the keys, and demand payment to unlock the files and demand payment or a ‘ransom’ to unlock the files.

Ransomware is clearly on the rise and is hitting the healthcare sector at a fast pace with new stories making headlines around the world. This means that healthcare professionals are among the groups that need to implement protective measures against it. Experts agree that more hackers will start abusing the ransomware technique in coming months, as news spreads among cyber criminals of the attack’s effectiveness and financial rewards.

Ransomware hackers typically scan the internet for unsecured websites or platforms and then modify the hospital or the clinic’s server scripts so that data is encrypted before being inserted into the database. With that being said, traditional perimeter security measures such as firewalls, antivirus, content filtering, and threat detection are no longer the sole deterrent for cyber criminals.

In order for healthcare institutions to combat ransomware threats and guarantee the protection of their patients’ data both at rest and in transit across networks, they must move to a framework that centres on the data itself.

Organisations need to provide protection that stays with the data wherever it is being sent, such as encryption and digital signatures, which enable them to maintain control of their data and detect any unauthorised modifications, even when data is deployed in the cloud or in their data center. By moving security controls as close as possible to the data, they can ensure that even after the perimeter is breached, the information remains secure.  

Still it is integral to note that encryption is still only one part of the solution as an organisation’s infrastructure is only as secure as the private keys and certificates used to protect it. Hackers also target encryption keys stored on remote servers and remove these from the organisation’s server, which is why we recommend that healthcare providers install a Hardware Security Module (HSM).

This is a type of electronic safe that stores their cryptographic keys, securely managing, processing and saving them inside a hardened, tamper-resistant device/virtual device.  Simply putting it that way, locking the door to the hacker but hiding the key under the doormat will not bring much security, this is why cryptographic keys management is pivotal.

Cyber-criminals are only getting smarter and are finding new ways to access data from multiple points. Healthcare organisations should implement a multi-layered, dynamic approach to their security measures to ensure their valuable assets remain uncompromised. In realising the true worth of healthcare information assets, appropriate systems combining strong authentication, data encryption and key management, can be put in place to safeguard these as they need to be – preventing potential breaches by hackers.

Article by Graeme Pyper, Regional Director, Australia and New Zealand at Gemalto

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Manufacturing
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Collaboration
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”