Contrarisk Security Podcast #0045: The threat to healthcare data

Niall MacLeod, Anomali

Healthcare organisations globally are facing the same issues. Data breaches are increasing whether through the accidental loss of data or as a result of cyber-attacks.

Health organisations are responsible for the care of large amounts of personally identifiable information (PII), and data doesn’t get much more personal that when it involves medical records. To complicate matters, medical practices of all kinds, from GP surgeries to hospitals, are increasingly dependent on technology to operate – something that has made them high-profile targets for ransomware attacks.

One issue is that many of the technologies used by healthcare organisations run on ‘legacy’ systems – which is most often a euphemism for Windows XP.

It seems the healthcare sector suffers from a unique combination of vulnerable systems, a need to remain operational because of the criticality of the services they provide and data that is attractive to attackers.

In this interview, Niall MacLeod of Anomali talks about the kinds of attacks this sector has seen and why they’re happening.

And he traces how the nature of attacks is evolving – for example, he explains how massive data breaches, such as the one suffered by Anthem, have actually driven down the black market value of health-related PII, which may partly explain the shift to ransomware attacks as a way of cyber-criminals to make money out of attacking this sector.

As all sections of the healthcare sector move to building service based on their use of data, there are also issues to do with medical data being used inappropriately.

On the other hand, as MacLeod points out, there are significant benefits to be gained from healthcare organisations sharing information, particularly when it relates to security issues.

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