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

Interview: Cisco on the cyber dangers lurking in healthcare

By Sara Barker
Mon 4 Sep 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The healthcare industry may have had the spotlight cast in its direction after the major cyber attacks like WannaCry that struck this year, but in reality they face the same threats as anyone else, and the stakes are much higher.

What is the state of cybersecurity in healthcare? We talked to Anthony Stitt, Cisco’s A/NZ general manager of security, about data privacy, automation and shocking findings from the Midyear Cybersecurity report.

As with any sector, healthcare risks data loss, service disruption, privacy issues and public backlash in the wake of a cyber attack, Stitt says. But healthcare data pushes up the stakes.

“Healthcare data is understandably sensitive and is often governed by separate regulations in comparison to other sectors. Any disruption to services potentially fatal. In the age of public healthcare, the government underwrites security, so issues can be very embarrassing and create public distrust," Stitt says.

However, he believes that data is difficult to monetise – a disadvantage for cyber criminals, whose crimes are motivated by money. Data is not as universally valuable to everyone.

“Historically, this has meant attacks on data are much less common and as a result healthcare organisations have not had to deal with the issue of cybersecurity as frequently. Therefore, they’ve learnt to be complacent.”

Holding data to ransom is a way of monetising that data – especially when a criminal can do it at scale. The WannaCry ransomworm was a clear example of how ransom demands are spreading to capture large chunks of an organisation’s network.

“The antidote for malware, especially worm-like propagation is: 1) vulnerability patching and 2) network segmentation. Healthcare organisations often have clinical machines, management software, ERP systems and other connected devices (like CCTV), which are not tolerant to frequent patching. In some instances these machines are owned and/or managed by third parties, who explicitly forbid untested patching,” he explains.

“These machines are responsible for life-giving capabilities and patching can often introduce instability. Further, many healthcare networks are not segmented well. Segmentation takes time, increases complexity and requires more IT staff to manage. When the CEO of a healthcare organisation is faced with investing more in IT staff or investing in some new life-saving machine, you can understand why they make the frontline health investments over security enhancements. Especially, given that historically they have not been attacked as frequently as other industries.”

But change is sweeping the sector: IT and network are now mission critical – even for the smallest businesses and GPs.

“We’ve seen numerous examples of small businesses being attacked by ransomware and extorted. This is less about using the data externally and more about an easy route to monetisation for criminals, with some victims not being able to recover their data," Stitt says.

Cisco concentrates on making security simple, open and automated to the same visibility previously reserved for larger businesses.

“The days of “set and forget” though, are over. We call this a protection-only mindset and countless public breaches attest that this approach doesn’t work. Unfortunately, the industry is filled with vendors are service providers selling their wares as “silver bullets” to the problem," he explains.

“Further, operational security matters. Systems need to be reviewed periodically. Adjustments are required. There needs to be a process of visibility, review, adjustment (protect –detect-respond).

“Without that, businesses are simply proverbial zebras in the herd hoping the lions don’t pick them off. Good security requires people and if a business can’t afford the people to do it well, it must outsource.”

He says that outsourcing is a good option for business leaders because it allows service providers to aggregate smaller businesses. But that aggregation also attracts criminals, such as in the case of ‘Operation Cloud Hopper’, a cyberespionage campaign that targeted managed IT service providers.

The data that is at stake represents critical life data for patients, but Stitt says that threats are outside patients’ control. To an extent, so are vulnerabilities.

“For example, are you really going to stop going to your local GP because you think they might vulnerable to data theft? Of course, you could ask if they keep the data in-house, or use some kind of SaaS application or utilise a hosting provider elsewhere. Larger private businesses will be regulated by the Privacy Act, which you could always ask if that is the case too,” he explains.

“So, you’re left with “asset value”. What is the value of your data? It might be less than you think. In the wrong hands, it is often signficantly more than you think. You could chose your healthcare provider based on how you feel about this question. What would be the impact to you if some or all your healthcare data was exposed?”

Earlier this year Cisco released its Midyear Cybersecurity Report, which found that IoT devices feature standard chipsets that are designed for functionality, not security.

“Cisco has invented an architecture (Digital Network Architecture, or DNA) to deal with this, zero-trust networking, where the network treats all traffic as untrusted. This is the future of networking and segmentation. Know every device on the network, explicitly give it access based on what you know about it and what your policy says it should have access to,” he explains.

“Zero trust architectures are a great start. There is also a responsibility of equipment manufacturers to make their devices secure. This includes secure coding, minimum functionality (sometimes called minimum viability) and starting with security rather than bolting it on at the end or late in the development process."

The Midyear Cybersecurity Report also highlighted that operational security is struggling under the weight of too many alerts, a lack of investigation and a lack of mitigation. Spot solutions have created complex security technologies that are difficult to manage.

“These technologies have, in many cases, declined in efficacy over time - take anti-virus for example. With these declines in efficacy, the focus has shifted from protection to detection and response. Unfortunately, detection and response is all about people, and about how systems work together, amplifying weak signals, or simplifying the job for investigators,” Stitt explains.

“Cisco blocks billions of attacks every day, more than the number of google searches made every day, it gets rid of 99.9% of the issues but the 0.1% of attacks will hit you eventually; especially if you have no way to detect and remove them.”

“Moreover, we use our cloud to store attack meta-data, including where we first saw it, so even unknown attacks can be blocked after the fact. Cisco calls this retrospective security and we do it hundreds of thousands of times a month, we do it automatically, we block the execution of previously unknown malware on infected machines without our customers having to do anything. Cisco does this, currently, at an average of 4 hours from the initial infection.”

Looking to the future, Stitt sees the cybersecurity industry as an arms race that’s tipping back in favour of the defender.

“Collectively, we are making it more expensive for the attackers and as a result they are getting more focused and professional. One may see this as bad but raising the stakes is ulitmately a good thing. We will see a shift to SaaS (software as a service) and I think this will raise the stakes further be aggregating data and protection at a large scale,” he says.

He also says the security vendor landscape is large and fragmented, so consolidation will be a big part of the future.

“Cisco’s primary route to market here is via our security Enterprise Licensing Agreement, and these are one of the fastest growing procurement models in our portfolio, both here and globally,” Stitt says.

Stitt sees an increasing importance on privacy and law enforcement in the digital world.

“Right now, we don’t really have equivalent law enforcement online versus in the physical world. Online, every criminal is at your digital doorstep, whereas this is not the case in your home or at work. I doubt we will ever completely close this gap, although Governments will increasingly enforce the rule of law online.”

“I believe we must, and will, change our attitude to online security and what is required to be safer. The idea that every person, business and organisation needs to be a vigilante responsible solely for their own protection is ludicrous. This often governs talk about t online security. If your network is breached by criminals it’s your fault, whereas if your home or business is physically broken into, you’re a victim of a crime,” Stitt concludes.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Your tools, your choice: why allow employees to choose their own devices?
Jamf Australia says giving your team the freedom to work with their digital device of choice could help to attract and retain top talent in a tight labour market.
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
Document Management
NZ's FileInvite raises $10M in latest investment round
FileInvite has raised $10 million in Series A investment to fast-forward the extinction of email for requesting and collecting documents online.
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
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
Training
Barracuda customises training to fit ACSC Essential Eight
Barracuda has announced that its Security Awareness Training now provides a customised training curriculum in line with the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) Essential Eight.
Story image
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's 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
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
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
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
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
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
Document Management
Regaining digital trust and enhancing digitisation in Australian Government agencies
Having a digitised ecosystem of documents, tools and data can help bolster security, improve workflow and ultimately create better services.
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
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks' cloud security platform receives IRAP assessment
"We provide help protect all forms of compute, cloud native services and access to data within public and private sectors."
Story image
SaaS
Ping Identity appoints Deloitte Australia as a partner
Ping Identity has appointed Deloitte Australia as a Consulting Technology Partner, uniting its offerings with the company's consulting services.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
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
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
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.
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
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
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
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
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.”
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
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
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
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Security driving customer identity & access management adoption
"CIAM allows businesses to embed a secure identity layer into their consumer and SaaS applications, facilitating secure, seamless end user experiences."
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
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.  
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
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
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
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
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
Media
Registrations for the W.Media Sydney Cloud and Datacenter Convention 2022 now open
Are you a C-Level executive looking to enhance your knowledge in the cloud and data center space in order to get the best results for your company?
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."