Posted in Breaches

Connected care comes at a cost: More security threats

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
Connected care comes at a cost: More security threats

The increasing use of connected technologies in healthcare will force provider organizations to adopt more holistic approaches to security, according to a new forecast by global IT software and services vendor Unisys.

“As more providers utilize personal or hand-held devices to access data, it means extremely valuable patient data is more vulnerable to cyber threats,” Unisys said. “In the coming years, the industry will see a rapid rise in ransomware and DDoS attacks that threaten patient data, as well as the business reputations of the organizations trusted to protect it.”

Not only is patient data more vulnerable to cyber threats, there’s also more of it being created, collected, stored, and transmitted from clinical medical devices, consumer wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s no coincidence that in the second quarter of 2017, there were more publicly disclosed security incidents in the life sciences and healthcare industry than in any other sector, a recent McAfee Labs Threat Report shows.

Speaking of the public, these risks to medical devices and patient data have not gone unnoticed by consumers. More than half of respondents to the recent Unisys Security Index survey on IoT devices said they were “extremely concerned” (27 percent) or “very concerned” (24 percent) that an unauthorized person or hacker could gain access to an internet-connected medical device such as a defibrillator, pacemaker or insulin pump belonging to them or someone they know.  

In response to these anticipated threats, Unisys predicts, healthcare organizations will “shift toward a multi-tiered, holistic approach to security” in which all devices (including personal devices) that interact with multiple networks are equally protected. In other words, no soft spots or open windows.

“While it will require more than one type of protection, those that are best poised to adapt will start with a thorough security assessment to analyze network and devices, which in turn can determine how different aspects of security can work together best for the business,” Unisys says.