The Opportunities and Dangers of High-Tech Health Care

Written by: Francesco Trama | Published on: April 15th, 2016

About The Author

Francesco Trama
As Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Francesco is responsible for the overall operating performance, leading the strategic direction of the company’s products and solutions internally while building technical and business credibility externally as a market-facing thought leader.

High Tech HealthcareDid you know that a revolution is taking place in healthcare? Institutions are connecting up all their equipment to improve communication and speed up the delivery of results to patients and doctors. Although increasing connectivity improves the patient experience, it also presents security risks because there are more points in your network where a hacker can potentially gain access to steal sensitive data.

Why Do Hackers Want Patient Data?

Medical information is extremely valuable to criminals. A hacker can sell a stolen financial identity for about $5 to $10 if they have a complete set of information. A medical identity can be worth up to 10 times as much, which means there is a strong financial incentive for hackers to steal medical data from networks in hospitals and other health-care institutions. Every day, hackers are trying to obtain as many patient records as they can, which can lead to devastating consequences for patient privacy if the criminals succeed in stealing and publishing their data. Whereas victims of financial fraud can cancel their credit cards and dispute fraudulent transactions, it isn’t so easy to change medical information.

How Do Hackers Steal Your Health-Care Data?

Hackers can rip off confidential data from healthcare institutions in many ways. Think about it. When you go to any local doctor’s office, there is often a computer sitting in the waiting room. A hacker who has physical access to that computer may be able to quickly install software that gives them access to your network. Once a hacker has gained access to the network, they may be able to access confidential records and steal sensitive data.

An Ever-Expanding Network of Risks

Desktop and laptop computers aren’t the only potential sources of entry into a health-care institution’s network. Hospitals are currently adding a wide range of connected medical devices to their networks, each of which presents a potential security risk. If one particular medical device has an old operating system that hasn’t been patched correctly, an attacker could use this device to get a foothold into the network. Attackers can install some kind of malware, Trojan horse, or worm that is able to spread through the whole system, creating a serious security problem.

Addressing the Risks of High-Tech Health Care

The network in a healthcare institute can be much more complicated than networks in other types of organizations. A regular network includes computers, phones, copiers and other standard office devices, whereas you know that a medical facility usually has a wide variety of devices, each of which needs to have its software updated regularly to keep it safe from attackers. Even experienced network administrators can miss potential security issues, especially if you aren’t used to managing networks in a medical setting.

“Geo-IP” Filtering Can Help

Geo-IP filtering is a kind of technology that can let you know the physical locations of IPs that are connecting to your network, which is a very useful technology for monitoring your traffic. Remember, it’s not only the traffic coming into your network that can signal a problem; if you see a lot of traffic leaving your network and going to a high-risk country, that could be a sign that criminals are stealing data from your medical systems. When your Geo-IP filter reveals this kind of suspicious activity, you need to quickly take action to check for a security breach and secure the network.

Increased connectivity in healthcare institutions allow medical professionals to quickly and easily share information with their colleagues, leading to improvements in the patient experience. However, medical networks are also vulnerable to attack. Therefore, always update your devices and use Geo-IP filtering to monitor your institution’s network and keep patient data safe. Remember that every device with an operating system can become an entry point to your system and ask yourself: How many devices are connected to your health-care network?  {{cta(‘722f9f0e-2e8c-4b6e-a441-d8a2128f5a4d’,’justifyright’)}}