Cyberattacks a Growing Threat for Healthcare

Because of the high value of medical records and healthcare databases to criminals, they pose ever more attractive targets. In fact, a number of reports have shown that cyberattacks are costing the healthcare industry billions of dollars annually, with a median loss of $150,000 per incident. Cybersecurity risks in healthcare have also drawn attention to the vulnerability of hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers.

The infographic below, which is part of a series by Advisen and Hiscox, looks at:

  • The frequency of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations over the past five years
  • The median loss in healthcare cyberattacks
  • The percentage increase of protected health information (PHI) losses between 2006 and 2011 for printed records, servers, laptops, desktop, website, portable data storage devices, and other sources.

It also examines which revenue groups suffered more PHI losses and the size of breaches that occurred more frequently.

The majority of losses involve printed records, which have increased to 45% since 2011 compared to 3% by email.

While some may think that the majority of breaches are large, in the past five years, almost 50% of breaches have been small, with fewer than 100 records lost.

Along with Hurricanes Come Hackers

Cyber crime
With hurricane season in full swing, supermarkets and electronic stores aren’t the only businesses in danger of looting. When defenses are down and attention is elsewhere during a natural disaster, critical data and intellectual property is just as vulnerable to looting as the shopping center down the street.

Each year, the amount of personal information targeted from data breaches only continues to grow. There was a new record set near the end 2015 when 191 million U.S. voters’ identities were exposed, surpassing the previous record for the largest single data beach. Personally identifiable information, including voters name, date of birth, gender, and addresses were exposed for more than a week before the database was officially shut down. Just imagine the opportunity for hackers during natural disasters when systems are down for a similar time frame.

Take “Superstorm Sandy,” back in 2012. Cyber criminals used confusion in the aftermath of the hurricane as part of a social engineering scheme to steal information. One organization received a call requesting an emergency download of sensitive personnel information needed to assist staff that had been affected by flooding. Lost internet connectivity as a result of the storm meant the help desk could not make a reasonable verification of who was making the request and sent the highly sensitive information to the bogus caller’s “backup site,” which was, as it eventually transpired, a system controlled by hackers. During times of crisis we are more susceptible to cyber criminals willing to prey on our good nature and eagerness to help.

The semi-controlled chaos of an emergency response is rife with opportunities for exposure of sensitive data. Here are five steps enterprises can take to minimize cyber exposure before, during and after a natural disaster.

  1. Security Analytics: According to the 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, the overall total number of identities exposed has jumped 23%, to 429 million. Security analytics tools allow IT managers to have full visibility into all network traffic, they can also help enterprises determine if and when anything happened, what systems and data were affected and if the attack has been contained. Monitoring these tools can also be outsourced to security service providers.
  1. Be Secure in the Cloud: During a natural disaster, buildings may be flooded or damaged and roads may be closed, ‘dedicated’ servers can lack the flexibility and access provided in a cloud environment. Access for continuing operations and first-responders operating from mobile devices can be critical in a disaster. But, it is important that your cloud is protected and monitored; access management is top priority. IT managers can use cloud access security brokerage technologies to restrict workers from creating accounts on services such as Box or DropBox and transferring restricted data. More importantly, the information residing in cloud applications can be encrypted and tokenized.
  1. Plan for Emergency Web Access & Bandwidth Management: Prioritizing access to the network becomes critical during natural disasters. With bandwidth tight, restrict and prioritize web access to only the most critical sites and resources. Set up a more restrictive web access policy prior to an emergency and be ready to deploy it when needed. Do the same for bandwidth management. Be ready to prioritize applications such as VoIP and cache critical information like official communications for viewing from a local cache.
  1. Protect social media and public websites: Customers will be looking for updates via social media and websites during and after emergencies. During these times, it is critical to protect public information resources. Web application firewalls can protect the website from common attacks, control input/output and access as well as detect unfamiliar traffic patterns. Twitter is a critical communication resource, but this can also be used to promote malicious information. Deploy security features such as two-factor authentication and verification codes for social media accounts.
  1. Practice, Practice, Practice. Table top exercises, readiness assessments and “live fire” exercises are essential to good preparation. I’m fond of the quote, usually attributed to the boxer, Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Having led a significant number of crisis teams, every disaster presents unique challenges but successfully surviving a determined cyber criminal’s attempts demands on both preparation and practice.

While we can’t always predict the weather, with the right protocols for security in place, enterprises can ensure that their IT infrastructure is protected 24/7.

Holding Executives Accountable for Cybersecurity Failures

The average cost of a data breach for companies surveyed has grown to $4 million, a 29% increase since 2013, with the per-record costs continuing to rise, according to the 2016 Ponemon Cost of a Data Breach Study, sponsored by IBM. The average cost hit $158 per record, but they are far more costly in highly regulated industries—in healthcare, for example, businesses are looking at $355 each, a full $100 more than in 2013. These incidents have grown in both volume and sophistication, with 64% more security incidents reported in 2015 than in 2014.

Ponemon wrote:

Leveraging an incident response team was the single biggest factor associated with reducing the cost of a data breach–saving companies nearly $400,000 on average (or $16 per record). In fact, response activities like incident forensics, communications, legal expenditures and regulatory mandates account for 59 percent of the cost of a data breach. Part of these high costs may be linked to the fact that 70 percent of U.S. security executives report they don’t have incident response plans in place.

With so much on the line, more and more companies and consumers continue to search for whom to hold accountable for cybersecurity failures, and the message is becoming clearer: executives need to get serious or watch out.

In a recent report from Bay Dynamics, “How Boards of Directors Really Feel About Cyber Security Reports,” board members expressed a surprising amount of confidence in their abilities to understand and act on cyberrisk threats and indicated there are real risks on the table for IT and security executives. Almost all of those surveyed said that some form of action will be taken should these executives not provide useful and actionable information, with 59% claiming there is a good chance one or more security executives would lose their job over such reporting failures.

More board members (26%) ranked cybersecurity risk as their highest corporate priority than any other risk, including financial, legal, regulatory and competitive risks, and 89% said they are “very involved” in making cybersecurity decisions.

Following the typical presentations from IT and security executives, more than three in five board members are both significantly or very “satisfied” (64%) and “inspired” (65%), but 32% are significantly or very “worried,” and 19% are significantly or very “confused” and “angry.”

According to the report:

Of the information provided to them during these presentations, the majority of board members (97%) say they know exactly what to do or have a good idea of what to do with the information. This statistic, however, does conflict with IT and security executives’ thoughts on the information they present. Based on our December 2015 survey, only 40% of IT and security executives believe the information they provide the board is actionable. There is a clear disconnect here between what the board perceives is actionable information, and what IT and security executives define as data that can be used to make informed decisions.

“IT and security executives are focusing on what they believe are the most impactful issues: a) forward-looking information about known vulnerabilities that could potentially harm the company in the future, b) specifics about data that was lost as a result of known infiltrations and data breaches, and c) the impact of these infiltrations and breaches,” Bay reports. “Interestingly, while information about how much is spent to address cyber risk is reported by IT and security executives in less than one-half of the companies surveyed, this was the most commonly cited information that board members said they needed to make investments for cyber risk planning and expenditures.”

Bay also pointed to a critical challenge in the education gap of many board members and the reliance upon information security executives: a large portion of the education board members have on infosec is from the organization’s IT and security executives, and “when the person education you on cybersecurity is the same individual tasted with measuring and reducing cyberrisk, there’s a fundamental disconnect.” It is extremely difficult for board members to understand what they are missing without education of their own and a third-party audit in place.

As cyberrisk continues to become a top enterprise risk priority, the consequences of failure may impact more of the C-suite than just chief information security officers or top IT executives. In May, following a social engineering fraud case that resulted in a wire transfer of 50 million euros, Austrian aircraft parts manufacturer FACC fired its chief executive of 17 years. Some regulators also want to start holding chief executives accountable in a way that truly speaks to them: their paychecks. According to a report from members of parliament on the British Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Britain’s status as the leading internet economy in the G20 is under threat from a combination of increasing reliance on digital infrastructure, and inadequate protection of it. To address the issue, they suggest that chief executives who fail to prevent cybersecurity breaches have a portion of their pay docked.

Such was the case with Baroness Harding, the chief executive of TalkTalk, Britain’s fourth-largest broadband provider, which suffered a high-profile cyberattack recently. Her performance bonus was slashed by more than a third as a result of the company’s security failings.

“Companies must have robust strategies and processes in place, backed by adequate resources and clear lines of accountability, to stay one step ahead in a sophisticated and rapidly evolving environment,” said Jesse Norman, chairman of the committee. “Failure to prepare for or learn from cyber-attacks, and failure to inform and protect consumers, must draw sanctions serious enough to act as a real incentive and deterrent.”

Customers Accept Hacking Risks, But Hold Businesses Fully Accountable for Cyber Risk

While most consumers are coming to consider hacking normal, they are definitely far from letting businesses off the hook for their failures to guard against cyberthreats. According to a new study from enterprise security firm Centrify, about three quarters of adults say it is probably or definitely normal and expected for businesses and large organizations to be hacked, and 66% of adults in the U.S. are at least somewhat likely to stop doing business with a company that has suffered a cyberbreach – a figure that rises to 75% in the U.K.

Consumers also firmly believe that the burden of responsibility for guarding against cyberrisk falls squarely on businesses. On a 10-point scale, two thirds of respondents rated corporations as a nine or 10 in terms of how responsible they should be for preventing hacks and securing customers’ personal information. When companies are hacked, they consequently also bear the burden of being fully accountable to their customers, and many are failing, further compounding the odds of concrete consequences from clients. In the U.S., 41% said that corporations do not take enough responsibility when they are hacked, a sentiment shared by 50% of U.K. respondents.

The study found that 21% of U.S. consumers say they are “very likely” to stop doing business with a company that has been hacked. Those most likely to do so include those who have had their personal information compromised in a hack, those who are tech savvy, and those who are frequent online shoppers.

“The study clearly points to the need for organizations to dramatically bolster their security systems and do everything in their power to protect consumer information and prevent a breach,” said Tom Kemp, CEO of Centrify. “When companies put customer data at risk they are really putting their entire business at risk. Consumers simply will not tolerate doing business with hacked organizations. It’s time for organizations to take full responsibility for their security and put the proper measures in place once and for all.”

Check out some of the study’s findings in the infographic below:

Centrify Infographic