Healthcare Industry Faces Escalating Cyber Threats

Tim Mackey, Synopsys Software Integrity Group, Explores Omdia Research as the Healthcare Sector Grapples With the Cyber Attack Surge Risking Patient Safety

The healthcare industry is witnessing a surge in cyber attacks, jeopardising patient safety, data confidentiality, and crucial advancements in research and technology. Global analysts Omdia reported that, between January and September 2023, healthcare experienced more attacks than any other sector, including governments.

"Cyber-attacks on hospital systems and health delivery organisations are a reflection of the reality that protecting human health represents a critical priority for any community,” shares Tim Mackey, Head of Software Supply Chain Risk Strategy at the Synopsys Software Integrity Group.

“Fortunately, health systems are experts in patient care and prioritise positive health outcomes. However, health data is among the most sensitive data available to a cybercriminal. That data is highly personal, difficult to correct if tampered with, and complications resulting from inaccurate data are quite severe.”

Synopsys, a technology specialist at the forefront of ‘Smart Everything', leads in advanced technologies for chip design, verification, IP integration, and software security. Rooted in innovation, Synopsys supports its customers' journey from silicon to software, driving the development and digitization of the future.

Protecting Healthcare Against Cyber Threats

The prevalent cyber breaches in healthcare encompass hacking, supply chain attacks, phishing (where cyber criminals pose as legitimate entities), ransomware, and malware (malicious software encrypting data, demanding a ransom for decryption). 

Mackey stresses the dilemma of allocating resources for cybersecurity versus patient care. He says, “To protect against the impact of a cyber-attack would require IT resourcing that arguably might be better spent on patient care.”

However, he suggests that principles like zero-trust networking can mitigate the damage in the face of an attack. Detailed cybersecurity reviews of potential vendors and medical device manufacturers can also unveil weak cybersecurity practices within complex supply chains.

Mackey's wealth of experience, spanning over 15 years, covers mission-critical systems design, open-source governance, data privacy, and application security. He joined Black Duck in 2016, which was later acquired by Synopsys. Previously, he spent a decade at Citrix Systems, and his educational background lies in electrical engineering, holding a degree from Concordia University.

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