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Irony of cybercriminals targeting tech-savvy health industry

By James Wanzala | September 19th 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The healthcare industry, arguably one of the most technologically advanced considering the gadgets and devices now used to monitor health statistics and perform medical procedures, is ironically among the most "unhealthy" when it comes to network security.

Delegates attending the recent Healthcare Innovation Summit were told that medical records are being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals.

Data from the US showed that 89 per cent of healthcare institutions suffered a security breach and were twice more likely to be targeted than other organisations.

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Healthcare record theft increased by a shocking 1,100 per cent this year with more than 100 million records compromised.

"The richness of the information means that the cyber security threat to healthcare has increased," says
Michael Ebert, KPMG partner and healthcare leader at the firm's Cyber Practice.

"The magnitude of the threat against healthcare information has grown exponentially, but the intention or spend in securing that information has not always followed."

As a result of divergent priorities, payers and providers have differing concerns when it comes to security breaches.

The biggest threat, says KPMG, comes from external attackers at 65 per cent while malware tops the list of information security concerns.

But why is an industry with the technological ability to perform surgery on patients in other countries so ill-equipped when it comes to protecting information?

Data collected and stored by hospitals and other organisations such as medical aid schemes is up to 10 times more valuable to cybercriminals than credit card information.

This is due to the large volume of information gathered about individuals, and the fact that there is an increased shift to digital medical records, which makes it easy to commit fraud and identity theft.

But why this increase in cyber crime in this sector?

Given the value of this data on the black market, cyber-attacks are becoming ever more sophisticated in their attempts to hack healthcare institutions. Hospitals are melting pots of outdated infrastructure, old operating systems and state-of-the-art medical technology, all communicating over the same networks.

Often, hospitals take an "if-it-is-not broken, don't-fix-it" approach to technology, so devices may not be patched with the latest software versions, for example.


cybercriminals healthcare KPMG
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