80% of Healthcare Executives Report Compromised IT Systems Due to Cyberattacks

Sep 02, 2015
3 minutes
... views

“Four-fifths of executives at healthcare providers and payers say their information technology has been compromised by cyber-attacks,” according to a survey of healthcare executives conducted by KPMG.  This was the most compelling finding from the survey, which polled 223 healthcare executives in the U.S., covering both for-profit (56%) and non-profit (44%), as well as payers and providers.

What this means is that 20 percent of responders claimed none of their IT systems had been compromised in the past two years.  That is quite a bold claim!  All of the responders had revenues of at least $500 million (70% had revenues over $1 billion), so they must have quite a few endpoints to manage. 

From my perspective, having led a security operations team at a large hospital network, it’s hard to believe they were able to fend off all malware attacks for two years. No one in their organization fell prey to the phishing email campaigns that enticed users to listen to their “Voicemail Recording.wav.exe”? I highly doubt that.

The answer is revealed in another finding of the survey:

44 percent of responders said their organization tracked between 1 and 50 cyberthreat attempts in the last 12 months. “This is indicative of [healthcare] organizations not understanding, tracking, reporting and managing threats effectively.”

So, the 20 percent of responders who claimed that none of their IT systems had been compromised in the past two years must be a subset of this group who do not have the visibility into cyberthreats to detect them in the first place.  This makes more sense.  Many healthcare organizations don’t have the capability to detect or prevent malware and exploits in real time.

There are many best practices to consider in the effective protection of today’s hospital networks, which can help prevent threats to connected medical devices, patient data, and overall patient care, including being able to:

  • Maintain visibility, effective control, and the enablement of applications and activity to reduce the threat footprint and minimize needless bandwidth consumption.
  • Virtually segment your network to prevent the movement of malware through the network using a Zero Trust approach.
  • Protect and defend systems at all places in the network, across all network traffic on endpoints, in data centers, in remote locations, and at major Internet gateways.
  • Maintain advanced malware detection to identify and prevent zero-day as well as known malware attacks.
  • Include off-network endpoint protection and ongoing defense, regardless of location or device.
  • Ensure timely reporting to enable IT, cybersecurity and intelligence professionals to coordinate actions.
  • Ensure immediate and automatic sharing and distribution of threat intelligence between systems.

Read more about how the Palo Alto Networks next-generation security platform can help your healthcare organization. Stay tuned for a soon-to-be-released healthcare reference architecture that will elaborate on these security principles in more detail, and how best to apply them, using Palo Alto Networks next-generation security platform.

Subscribe to the Blog!

Sign up to receive must-read articles, Playbooks of the Week, new feature announcements, and more.