Trustwave highlight cyber vulnerabilities within healthcare

In the wake of organisations like the NHS experiencing data breaches, Trustwave has released a report on how to better protect digital areas in healthcare

Trustwave has released a report detailing data from a lengthy investigation focusing on huge cyber threats the healthcare industry is battling in 2023.

The report, “Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Industry: Actionable Intelligence for an Active Threat Landscape,” Trustwave’s SpiderLabs team presents a comprehensive roadmap that highlights the attack methodologies of threat actors and offers insight on how organisations can safeguard themselves against specific types of cyberattacks.

With the NHS having experienced its largest data breach on record, continued ransomware and phishing hacks on global businesses speaks to wider concerns about increased cyber threats and the warfare on online security systems.

Ransomware continues to cause hospital disruption

SpiderLabs found in its report that attackers often employ multiple vectors to continuously target healthcare organisations. While these attacks may change over time, the report claims that underlying tactics often remain consistent. 

It states that in 2022 alone, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 28.5m breached healthcare records, which it states is a significant increase from 21.1m in 2019.

Due to the sensitive nature of healthcare data and organisation requirements, the financial impact of breaches in the industry was higher than any other industry, according to Trustwave. It noted that the average cost of a data breach in 2022 was US10.1m - more than double the industry average of US$4.4m.

It also suggests that traditional methods of scamming such as phishing emails, exploiting known vulnerabilities, and compromising third-party vendors continue to pose significant threats, which threat actors steadily improve to remain useful and dangerous.

Phishing in particular continues to have a significantly large impact on cybersecurity sectors, with bad actors targeting businesses and critical infrastructure. It was recently revealed in particular that, in the first half of 2023 alone, the number of email-based phishing attacks surged 464% in comparison to 2022.

Unique industry risks due to generative AI and LLMs

The report highlights generative AI and large language models (LLMs) as posing unique risks to healthcare organisations due to the tools having access to sensitive data. In addition, it claims that the risks associated with third-party vendors and the huge expansion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in healthcare further amplifies potential attacks and vulnerabilities to the industry’s infrastructure.

In addition to cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated, threat actors are showing clear preferences for particular hacking techniques, with notable shifts toward weak IoT devices, cryptojacking and potentially targets like schools and hospitals.

Stating in its report that ransomware attacks causing disruptions in hospitals have already been linked to patient fatalities, the report cites the American Hospital Association, who warn that delays and interruptions in healthcare delivery as a result of ransomware attacks dramatically increase the risk of more deaths.

With this in mind, the report highlights the necessity for the healthcare sector to minimise cyber risk and prioritise data protection.


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