Health CISO Shares Security Strategies for Ransomware, Enterprise Risks

By Jessica Davis

– The threat landscape in the past year has demonstrated just how low cybercriminals will stoop to make a quick payout. The healthcare sector, already burdened with the COVID-19 pandemic response, faced heightened cybersecurity threats and data exfiltration attempts that threatened to disrupt the overall infrastructure.

Mitch Parker, Chief Information Security Officer for Indiana University (IU) Health, detailed just how serious things have become for healthcare on the cyber front, in a recent Xtelligent Healthcare Media webcast—and just how pressing it is for providers to take action now to prevent falling victim.

“Last year in healthcare cybersecurity, we’ve seen an influx in the number of targeted attacks,” Parker said. “And we’ve seen a complete rapid expansion of the healthcare infrastructure to meet the response to this national crisis of COVID-19.”

“Providers now, because of the complete change in infrastructure, are facing a greater number of vulnerabilities, and we have to ensure the care strategy that we now have can meet our needs,” he added.

Ransomware is one of the largest risks facing the healthcare sector today. The threat has evolved from full reliance on phishing emails or corrupt PDF files to infect victims, said Parker. Now attackers are actively seeking vulnerabilities to exploit, such as remote desktop protocols (RDPs), virtual private networks (VPNs), or even secure shell.

READ MORE: How Automation Improved Identity, Access Management at Molina Health

By leveraging stolen credentials and password spraying attacks, hackers can gain access to networks. Parker stressed that hackers are increasingly delaying the ransomware deployment to first take control of all connected, vulnerable devices and some internal storage, to use that control for the maximum effect and damage.

To Parker, this was brought on by providers effectively using backups to restore data without paying hackers’ demands.

“When you think about it, ransomware is a business. And the costs have significantly increased because of the increased time and…