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2022 News-EN

CYBER SECURITY IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR: WHY IT’S A PRIORITY

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CYBER SECURITY IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR: WHY IT'S A PRIORITY

The scenario of cyber attacks is by no means rosy.

Criminal operations are constantly increasing, both in terms of frequency and criticality, with increasingly targeted attacks in order to maximize cybercrime profits.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a further aggravating situation: the criminals have not lost this opportunity to exploit this issue as much as possible, compromising companies, organizations and institutions already put to the strain by the management of the emergency.

Among the numerous targets, the healthcare sector is certainly the one that worries most of all.

As we showed in the Clusit Report 2022 presented a few weeks ago at the Italian Security Summit, since 2018, Healthcare is the fourth most targeted sector by criminals, with an ever-increasing number of attacks (13% of the total cyber attacks in 2021).

A trend, which not only shows no signs of decreasing, but also seems to be getting worse.
So what are the priority interventions for the health sector to try to stem this situation?
  1. Mitigate vulnerabilities
  2. The spread of IT and digital technology also in the Healthcare sector has facilitated activities and contributed to a more agile management of the entire healthcare sector.

    At the same time, however, it has contributed to increasing the risks of encountering several vulnerabilities:
    • incorrect configurations,
    • absence of patches or updates in operating systems and applications
    • installation and / or design defects
    • defects in the management of protocols and communications
    These issues can be exploited as an entry point to breach and compromise information systems, an even greater risk for those who manage data as sensitive as healthcare.

    It is a priority to carry out periodic checks (at least every 6 months) to find the evidence and mitigate it quickly.

    Unlike a normal company, in a healthcare facility Vulnerability Assessment must be performed with the utmost caution to avoid interruptions in activities.

    In addition, it would also be advisable to perform this check more frequently, in order to be sure to promptly handle issues.
  3. Verify the Cyber ​​Security strategy
  4. Solving vulnerabilities is really important but not the only solution.

    It is in fact very important to verify the cybersecurity strategy chosen by the healthcare facility.

    A good strategy must first of all include defensive solutions: these can include hardware products (such as firewalls), software (such as anti-malware products), and timely updating of systems and applications.

    A robust, up-to-date and properly configured backup system is equally a priority: in the event of a ransomware infection, the backup could in fact be the only salvation.

    Finally, it is also necessary to have a good disaster recovery plan, because, although the defensive solutions may be adequate, the chances of suffering a cyber attack are nonetheless.

    It is important, in this case, to be prepared and that the response would be rapid and effective, with priority of intervention previously shared and reviewed frequently.
  5. Cyber Security Awareness Trainings
  6. Some types of cyber attacks are complex to recognize and not easily intercepted by software solutions such as anti-malware products.

    Among these threats are, for example, Phishing, BEC (Business Email Compromise) scams and all types of online scams, which can have very serious consequences and induce victims to carry out harmful actions without their knowledge, such as installing malware or providing information to criminals.

    To try to stem this problem, it is useful to train staff to recognize the main threats and the most recent types of cyber attacks.

    Cyber Security Awareness trainings are useful for this purpose and should be organized for employees, collaborators and company management, at least once a year.
Being aware and prepared for the main cyber threats, and in particular for those specific to your sector, is now an essential priority for everyone.

But it is even more so for the healthcare sector, which is important and which, in addition to its systems, must also be able to protect our health data.

Good job!

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PROTECTING FROM CYBER ATTACKS: HERE ARE THE MAIN SOLUTIONS

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PROTECTING FROM CYBER ATTACKS: HERE ARE THE MAIN SOLUTIONS

After the description of the main techniques used in cyber attacks which, although evolving, always remain effective for cybercriminals, this time we will examine the main solutions.

As we have seen, threats types are numerous and not always easy to contain.

It is therefore clear that there cannot be a “magic wand” solution capable of defeating them all.

On the contrary, to mitigate these problems, it is necessary to put together multiple solutions in an organic way.

So let’s see the main tactics to protect yourself (as much as possible) from cyber attacks and prepare to better manage the major cyber threats:

  1. Anti-malware

    Malware is the leading cyber threat, used in over 40% of known cyber attacks. The first defense measure in these cases is to try to intercept this problem before it starts to violate computer systems by acquiring a good anti-malware.

    The market offers countless solutions for this purpose and basically all the main antivirus vendors provide good quality products.

    These software, installed on every computer device (and it would be good to include mobile ones too), have the task of detecting malicious codes, but it is important to emphasize that often they can only recognize threats already present in their database.

    For the correct functioning of a good anti-malware solution it is therefore essential that it is not only present on the systems, but also that it is updated regularly in order to recognize and disarm the latest threats.


  2. Backup

    In the case of ransomware, in addition to a good anti-malware product, backup remains the best solution.

    The goal of the ransomware is in fact to obtain the payment of the ransom to provide the encryption key that allows the data to be recovered.

    It should be remembered, however, that it is never recommended to comply with the requests of a criminal, without any guarantee, among other things, of actually obtaining the encryption key in exchange for payment.

    A good backup solution, on the other hand, is the best preventive measure against this threat, allowing the company to recover its data without considering to pay any ransom.

    For this solution to be effective, however, it is necessary that the backup is updated, appropriately configured and kept separate from the systems it protects (to avoid it being a victim of ransomware in turn).


  3. Assessments of computer systems

    Computer system vulnerabilities are exploited in 16% of known attacks.

    These issues include mis-configurations and installation or design defects that plague computer systems, particularly in the presence of very complex or rapidly growing networks.

    Vulnerability Assessment is the periodic check of the systems in search of these problems and it is the main defense for this type of threat.

    Through this check it is in fact possible to identify the systems and applications to be updated or any problems not yet known.

    It is also very useful to associate a Penetration Test with the Vulnerability Assessment: with this second type of verification it is possible, in fact, to test how a possible cyber criminal could exploit the problems encountered and what damage it would be able to cause once the systems are violated.

    Performing both checks has the advantage of obtaining a good picture of the company’s risk level, as well as the priorities to be assigned to remedial interventions.

    Researchers, as well as criminals, continuously discover new vulnerabilities, so it is good to periodically perform these assessments: ideally every 6 months, but at least once a year.

    Continuous vulnerability assesment and remediation is called Vulnerability Management and is highly recommended for critical systems or large enterprises.


  4. Cyber ​​Security Awareness trainings

    Phishing and Social Engineering are threats that try to exploit the only vulnerability that does not include security patches: the human factor.

    The solution to this type of threats are the Cyber ​​Security Awareness trainings, specific trainings in order to illustrate the main and most up-to-date types of threats and to learn more about how to recognize them.

    It is important that these paths are provided for all personnel who use company systems, for employees, therefore, but also for collaborators and, ideally, suppliers.

    The management should have a clear idea of responsibilities in the event of systems and data breaches, both of the company itself and regarding customers data.

    Finally, it is a good idea to organize these courses at least once a year in order to be updated on the latest news from the cyber world and the main examples of cyber attacks.


  5. CDN and WAF

    DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) can be very insidious and make inoperable websites or web applications.

    The first solution is to reduce the attack surface by limiting the services exposed to the Internet to a minimum or by redesigning them so that critical applications are properly shielded.

    Once identified the smallest number of servers and applications that need to be exposed on the Internet, a good practice is to protect them by adopting a CDN (Content Delivery Network) system.

    The CDN consists of a network of servers connected to each other to optimize the distribution of the contents of a service or web application.

    The use of a CDN allows to manage the traffic load directed to web services in order to solve, among other things, any overload problems.

    It is also a great way to improve the loading speed of website content, optimizing its positioning in search engines.

    Another good solution is to have a Web Application Firewall (WAF), a system capable of filtering and managing traffic at the application level directed to web services.

    In this way it is possible to intercept and intervene in the event of malicious requests for access to web services, also with regard to further threats in addition to DDoS.
Whatever threat we are most concerned about or to which we are most exposed, it is important to remember that the solution will hardly be univocal and definitive.

Cyber ​​security must in fact be considered as a continuous process in which technological, organizational and managerial elements are integrated.

Good job!

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HOW AN ASSESSMENT OF IT SYSTEMS CAN PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

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HOW AN ASSESSMENT OF IT SYSTEMS CAN PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

After having seen which assessments should be performed periodically on IT systems to identify the problems exploited by cyber criminals, let’s see instead how one of these checks allowed a company to save itself from a series of threats it did not know.

Our customer, with over 100 locations and stores around the world, had reports on their systems vulnerabilities.

In a company of this size, however, there are countless systems that could be affected by problems, not only servers, but also employees’ PCs, mobile devices, network devices, printers, etc.

It is not easy, therefore, in the presence of such a complex and constantly evolving architecture, to be able to highlight the critical issues.

Our task every year was to carefully analyze the last report, identify the most serious vulnerabilities and, subsequently, carry out a Penetration Test on these, or a verification of how they could have been actively exploited by a cyber criminal to violate the company’s systems.

We also added some extra assessments such as verifying the company’s Social profiles, a phishing or Social Engineering test.

Certainly, a complex and ambitious project, carried out regularly starting 10 years ago, when such activities were not widespread at all, but which allowed the company to avoid various problems, to implement new countermeasures and to verify thir improvements over time.

So much work, but also great satisfaction.

For example, when we checked Social profiles, we came across a fake customer care from the company offering customer support.

The criminals intercepted the comments of customers who needed support directly from the official company page, then diverted them to a fake profile.

In addition to the damage to customers, the situation presented clear risks to the brand’s online reputation.

Our prompt identification of the problem has certainly averted the worst scenario.

On another occasion, we identified instead a malicious websites that, using domains similar to our customer’s one, were selling counterfeit products.

With a thorough research we were able to find several sites of this type, one of which, of Chinese origin, was selling fake products from the new collection.

The customer had developed the design months before, but the collection, intended for sale only later, had not yet completed the production phase.

The Chinese fake site, on the other hand, was already selling the products well in advance, a clear indicator that the company’s servers had been hacked to steal the collection design.

Thanks to our business, the customer has therefore obtained two advantages.

  • First, he was able to file a complaint with the relevant authorities, making sure that the malicious site was closed.
  • It also carried out a thorough investigation of its systems to assess how and when the attack occurred.

With this information it was possible to reassess the company’s cyber defenses, updating them in light of the violation suffered.

Ultimately, systems assessments allow companies to uncover issues that could be exploited maliciously.

But it is also often possible to identify indicators of cyber attacks that have already occurred, mitigating their effects and preventing further damage.

Definitely a major benefit!

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