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Indian healthcare lags behind in cyber security investment compared to other sectors: Harshil Doshi

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, November 11, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Indian healthcare sector has been lagging behind in cyber security investment as compared to other major industries.  However, given the spate of cyber security incidents globally in the healthcare sector, there is a growing realization amongst healthcare providers in India to secure their critical data especially against growing number of ransomware attacks, said Harshil Doshi, Strategic Security Solutions Consulting – India, Forcepoint
 
The rapid digitization of the healthcare industry has led to a huge increase in the number of ransomware, malware and targeted attacks, which puts confidential patient data like personal details, medical history and financial information at risk. Despite regulatory requirements around data privacy, security, and preventing data breaches of personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI), breaches are on the rise, Doshi told Pharmabiz in an email.
 
Healthcare is seen to be  under investing in IT security. Its  main focus is on regulation rather than looking at cyber security as an enabler for a healthcare institution to function, he added.
 
The recent focus on implementing electronic health records (EHRs) under externally-imposed tight deadlines, along with difficult-to-update medical devices that continue to run outdated and vulnerable operating systems, are weaknesses to exploit. There are issues like lack of trained cyber security professionals’, paucity of backup capabilities, process failures that put  healthcare organisations under the constant of threat of cyber exploitation. When it comes to protecting data in a digital era, the healthcare sector needs to invest in IT security and education to create awareness, said Doshi.
 
More over the healthcare systems are emerging as an attractive industry for hackers to target with each stolen medical record fetching from anywhere US$50 up to US$20,000 , according to industry estimates. In the past year, cyber attacks on healthcare services have resulted in the loss of PII and PHI data and disruption of critical care services from reputed health care service providers like Anthem in the US and NHS in the UK. Now US has  enforced HIPAA(Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). But there are many regions where there is no accountability and penalties enforced on healthcare service providers for such breaches and disruption.

The  implications of cyber-attacks on healthcare  lead to a significant financial and brand reputation loss.  India  can become a rich source of medical research data which can be  exploited.   Advanced attacks like ransomware can cause major operation disruption by holding critical data and assets to ransom, he said.

Globally healthcare companies, even after spending millions of dollars on advanced security solutions, face a formidable task in defending their critical data against cyber-attacks and data theft. At the same time, they face the challenge in meeting compliance regulations.

“As with any industry, humans are the weakest link in the cyber security framework. Forcepoint’s Human Point vision powered by technologies like integrated Data and Insider Threat, addresses these challenges by understanding the behavioral aspects of users to not only detect but also predict some of these threats,” stated Doshi.

“We have been successfully helping healthcare organizations across the globe protect their networks, deliver great care and remain in compliance. Some of the other customers include the US Department of Health and Human Services, Visiting Nurse Services of New York, Adventist Health, and Hutt Valley District Health Board,” he said.

 

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