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Activism's slippery slope: Anonymous targets children's hospital

Steve Ragan | April 25, 2014
Supporters of the faceless collective known as Anonymous have taken up the cause of a young girl, after the State of Massachusetts removed her from her parents earlier this year. However, the methods used to show support may have unintended consequences, which could impact patient care.

"Hacktivist organizations are going to take notice of these things, especially because they will hold strong opinions that coincide with the questions surrounding patient care, patient rights, healthcare costs, etc that become involved. Because of this, healthcare needs to realize that they are definitely going to be targets for hacktivist organizations."

This is the exact reason, he explained, why it's important that the security team within a healthcare organization be aware of contentious issues that are being dealt with by the business.

In related news, the FBI issued a warning to healthcare organizations earlier this month, urging them to upgrade security.

"The healthcare industry is not as resilient to cyber intrusions compared to the financial and retail sectors, therefore the possibility of increased cyber intrusions is likely," the FBI's memo stated in part.

Trey Ford, Global Security Strategist at Rapid7, commented further.

"Healthcare networks are not typically built with inherent mechanisms for detecting leaks or breaches in the way that financial networks might be. When payment information like credit and debit cards are stolen and moved to the black market, the payment system is designed to pinpoint a common point of purchase' so affected accounts can be quickly identified and isolated."

In contrast, Ford added, when fifty people have their identities stolen from a health care provider, there is no simple mechanism to pinpoint where the data was taken from, and who else may be affected.

"The timeline required to open new lines of credit, or assume identities is longer. This means the criminal responsible for the initial theft is protected by that wide gap between the crime and the detection."


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