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Cybersecurity in Medical: Evolving Technologies

By GlobalData Thematic Research 01 Feb 2021 (Last Updated February 1st, 2021 12:49)

Hospitals and health systems have historically been slow to adapt to changing technologies, preferring established methods of practice in most arenas.

Cybersecurity in Medical: Evolving Technologies
Credit: Mashka, Shutterstock.com.

As the importance of cybersecurity in healthcare is becoming increasingly apparent, healthcare providers are now beginning to shift to prioritising data protection and cybersecurity.

Evolving Technologies

Listed below are the key evolving technologies impacting the cybersecurity in medical theme, as identified by GlobalData.

Prevention, detection and response

There has been a move away from a prevention-based approach to cyberattacks towards active detection and timely responses. This approach uses three levels of cybersecurity: people, process, and technology. The prevention approach is futile unless it is combined with detection and rapid response approaches.

Detection and response-based technologies are also extremely useful in healthcare, with some companies directly marketing this approach to the healthcare industry. For example, LastLine (recently acquired by VMware) advertised detection and response technologies to healthcare industry users on their website in 2019.

Unified threat management

In recent years, multiple vendors have sold a patchwork of security products to corporations without considering how well they work together. The result has been a lack of strategic direction and co-ordination within many companies’ information technology (IT) departments.

This could be reworked so that unified threat management systems powered by intelligence engines that take a risk-based approach to security are in the lead. By automating threat discovery, investigation, and response, unified threat management can reduce incident response times and enhance overall threat detection rates.

Behavioural Analytics

Some breaches are caused by insider threats—whether through malicious intent or negligence—so behavioural analytics are critically important as a cyber defence. AI leaders IBM, Google, Microsoft, Splunk, and Palantir are among the best-placed companies to exploit this trend. In 2017, Cybraics used behavioural analytics to identify cyberattacks that had previously been missed within a large health system in the US.

Biometric security

Amazon and Mastercard are among the first major payment players to use selfies as an alternative to security passwords. In October 2016, Mastercard announced the European rollout of Identity Check Mobile, a new payment technology application that uses biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition to verify a card holder’s identity.

Passwords offer poor security for most digital transactions and are overdue to be replaced. Facial recognition and fingerprint technology companies should be a major beneficiary of this trend. Leaders in this space include Clarifai, 3M Cogent, and Safran.

In healthcare, biometric authentication could significantly improve security in electronic patient records. Currently, biometrics are being used in hospitals across the US for a variety of reasons, such as during patient registration. For example, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center first implemented finger scanners in 2016, and by the end of 2019 boasted a total of 3,800 biometric readers across 68 sites, according to HealthTechMagazine.net.

Incidence response services

British telecom operator TalkTalk was fined £400,000 ($521,294) for security failings by the Information Commissioner’s Office in the aftermath of its October 2015 cyberattack. There is a growing market for post-breach strategy consultancy services.

Post-breach strategy focuses on gathering information about the cyberattack as quickly as possible after the event and formulating a credible public relations (PR) strategy to demonstrate that the company remains in control of their business and has taken all actions possible to protect critical digital assets.

Managed security services

Few organisations have the necessary skill base to build cybersecurity defences themselves or even make effective use of cybersecurity technology. This tilts the balance in favour of managed security services, where a single security vendor manages an organisation’s cloud applications, compliance with data protection laws, and other cybersecurity risks. Companies such as Securitas, offer managed security services in packages specific to healthcare needs.

Security as a service

Cybersecurity is also moving from the purchase of one-off software products to security as a service. This is because one-off security products are designed for a specific purpose, while the threat environment is constantly changing.

Security as a service replaces the one-off cost of purchasing on premises equipment with a monthly subscription. It also enables corporations to ensure their IT security is constantly up to date without having to manually replace equipment or download the latest security patches.

The network segmentation imperative

There is a growing trend among enterprises to separate their enterprise network from their external network. Splitting the network into a subnetwork or separating a group of systems and applications can prevent hackers from pivoting from one vulnerable system to allow malware or a virus to propagate across the whole organisation’s network.

A 2019 study by security firm Forescout reported that only 49% of medical devices were deployed across 10 virtual local access networks (VLANs) or fewer, which indicates a lack of network segmentation. However, organisations are being educated on better protection mechanisms for the outer perimeter in order to guard internal infrastructure, workloads, and data, as well as to support their organisational systems.

The concept of micro-segmentation ensures that data cannot randomly be moved from one network zone to another. Some examples of vendors delivering this type of segmentation include VMware, Juniper, and Cisco.

Risk-based security approach

Risk-based strategies allow businesses and organisations to adopt strategies that are tailored to their unique operating models and environments, threat landscapes, and business objectives. This approach allows organisations to understand the impact of risk mitigation initiatives and providing a comprehensive view of their risk.

This is an edited extract from the Cybersecurity in Medical Devices – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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