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Healthcare technology advances opening up new attack vectors

Joe Green, Head of Systems Engineering-Asia Pacific at Palo Alto Networks | Jan. 8, 2016
A rise in the number of cyberattacks on the healthcare industry in 2015 exposed vulnerabilities and risks that were previously not in the spotlight, says Sean Duca of Palo Alto Networks.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Advances in healthcare technology across the world and in Asia Pacific have resulted in improved patient care, more accurate diagnostics, faster turnaround times and a host of other benefits. However, a rise in the number of cyberattacks on the healthcare industry in 2015 exposed vulnerabilities and risks that were previously not in the spotlight.

C-level executives at healthcare organisations understand that cyberattacks can have a direct impact on patient care, but they still struggle to advance their security maturity to the point that other industries with a longer history of regulation (i.e., financial services) have reached.

Grand View Research, a U.S. based market research and consulting company, forecasts significant growth within the global healthcare cybersecurity market, which was valued at nearly USD 5.5 billion in 2014. Over this seven-year forecast period, Asia Pacific is expected to witness a CAGR of over 8.50 percent, making it the most rapidly growing regional market in this space.

2016 will prove to be a year of innovation for healthcare organisations in Asia Pacific as they rush not only to implement new technologies that improve the patient experience, but also to put measures in place to protect their data and networks.

Here's a look at my top 2016 predictions for the healthcare industry.

Breaches caused by sophisticated cybersecurity attacks will continue to increase
In the U.S., according to the Health & Human Services breach portal, 112 million healthcare records were breached in 2015. This is nine times (9x) higher than the number in 2014. The top six healthcare breaches in 2015 also account for over 98 percent of the total breached records. What's more, each of the top six was caused by an advanced cyberattack. All signs indicate that sophisticated and targeted cyberattacks in the healthcare industry are increasing with a few of the largest breaches linked to China-sponsored attackers.

In 2016, we will continue to see an increased number of targeted cyberattacks across the globe, a trend that will extend in to Asia Pacific as well, resulting in major breaches in the healthcare industry. The healthcare providers who will be least impacted are those who:

1.     Conduct regular end-user security training to reduce successful phishing.

2.     Enforce a robust threat and vulnerability management program to identify risks.

3.     Deploy an advanced integrated security architecture to prevent cyberattacks on the network, on the endpoint, and in the cloud.

The IoT revolution will take off in the healthcare industry
The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution will go mainstream in 2016. According to Gartner, there will be six billion IoT enabled devices by 2018. The IoT revolution has many applications within the healthcare industry, including remote patient monitoring for high-risk patients and behaviour modification to help with obesity and smoking problems. As IoT becomes more widespread and connected smart devices get smaller and less expensive, we will see more healthcare practices use them to treat patients.


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