Business & Technology

The Next Generation of Healthcare Cybersecurity

By Troy Roberts | March 07, 2018

Healthcare networks have changed drastically in the past several years. Before the current consumer-focused, value-based care model became popular, healthcare networks were largely isolated, and not intended to facilitate the simplified sharing of information between providers and patients.

Today, however, these networks have been transformed. Healthcare networks are now far from isolated, and in fact are constantly becoming more distributed and intertwined.

Cutting-edge technology is driving the adoption of these more open, distributed networks as a way to get closer to consumers and improve the overall user experience. However, this trend that has swept across healthcare providers has inspired another transformative trend in the form of new cyberattacks. As healthcare organizations adopt more connected technology as a part of their digital transformation, cybercriminals are transforming the way they carry out attacks to exploit the expanding attack surface and potential new entryways.

This has led to another trend within the ongoing transformation process, which is security transformation. For a time, organizations were content to rely on the same security controls that had protected isolated networks. However, as cybercriminals demonstrate their ability to break through new defenses time and time again, cybersecurity must go through its own transformation, changing the game by tailoring its capabilities to meet both modern needs and attacks. 

The Transformation of Healthcare Cyber Attacks

Currently, there are 7.1 million patients using connected medical devices and remote monitoring.  Additionally, healthcare providers are expected to spend $9.5 billion on cloud services by 2020, with most organizations using a multi-cloud environment. These data points demonstrate that hospitals are putting more trust in these systems to store and analyze medical data, without necessarily revamping security measures.

In fact, the UK’s National Health Service has recently given hospitals and healthcare providers the go-ahead to begin storing confidential patient information in the public cloud. This is a notable shift in the level of trust healthcare providers are affording to the cloud, especially given the WannaCry ransomware attack that shut down the NHS in May 2017, as well as new regulations such as GDPR taking effect. Despite the cyber risks associated with these adoptions, healthcare organizations are moving forward due to the benefits they can provide.

A 2017 study revealed that more than 25 percent of all data breaches were related to the healthcare space, resulting in an estimated $5.6 billion lost to cybercrime per year. This is because cybercriminals have been working to make their attacks more advanced to easily target entryways such as connected devices, cloud, and multi-cloud environments and evade detection by most legacy security solutions in place. One way that cybercriminals have moved that attack needle is by adopting automation and machine learning to carry out complex attacks at a rapid pace, creating malware designed to detect and evade security devices. Botnets such as Reaper have been made more sophisticated, enabling them to target multiple vulnerabilities at once, while polymorphic malware allows for hundreds of variations of a threat to be created for different purposes in a matter of hours. New malware is also being developed to target the seams between different networked systems, especially multi-cloud, and threat predictions indicate that cyber criminals will begin to target cloud service providers directly in the coming year.

With the healthcare space continuing their push toward digital transformation, and cybercriminals adapting attacks accordingly, there must be a correlating cybersecurity transformation as well. 

Healthcare Cybersecurity Transformation

With automation, polymorphic malware, malware as a service, and more all already in place, carrying out cyberattacks has become inexpensive for criminals, but increasingly expensive for their targets. One key to the healthcare security transformation is flipping this paradigm. To address these challenges head on, Fortinet has recently released an arsenal of products that will tip the scales back in the favor of healthcare providers, and usher in the third generation of network security

FortiOS 6.0

To combat modern threats, healthcare organizations need an integrated security architecture that can span their distributed network and provide automated security. The release of FortiOS 6.0 brings hundreds of new security capabilities to organizations already running or moving to adopt the most widely distributed security operating system. For healthcare organizations, its expanded IoT, multi-cloud, and SD-WAN security capabilities are especially relevant. This update includes a Fabric Agent that can quickly identify what is running within networked endpoints to identify vulnerabilities that may become targets. The Security Fabric also has expanded Cloud Connectors that span private, public, IaaS, and SaaS clouds, giving security teams visibility into traffic across all cloud environments from a single console to create and execute a unified security plan. Furthermore, enhanced SD-WAN capabilities improve the performance of business-critical SaaS and VoIP applications. This ensures these applications operate at the necessary speed, without compromising security.

FortiGuard AI

Just as cybercriminals are harnessing automation and artificial intelligence to make attacks more effective, organizations must use this same technology to fortify defenses. FortiGuard AI is our latest solution, built from the ground up, to address these automated attacks. Built into Fortinet’s threat intelligence services platform, FortiGuard AI ensures Security Fabrics are constantly updated with the latest threat intelligence, and at machine speeds. FortiGuard AI is also autonomous, using machine learning to analyze and correlate threats. This automated service assesses threat intelligence from our three million security sensors deployed around the world to determine the most recent threat trends and updates security infrastructure accordingly at the speed of attack. This supplements often short-handed security teams, which can be overwhelmed by the volume and frequency of attacks. 

Threat Intelligence Services

To continue to build the next generation of cybersecurity, Fortinet has also updated its Threat Intelligence Services (TIS). TIS provides visibility into network activity and metrics, delivered through the cloud. This information gives healthcare security teams an understanding of their threat landscape, allowing them to shift their focus and prioritize to meet current threats.

Final Thoughts

Healthcare organizations are a major target for cybercriminals, who are now developing new methods of attack to take advantage of digital transformation. As these advanced new forms of malware, botnets, and more are distributed automatically at a mass scale, the status quo of cybersecurity methods will not be sufficient to protect health networks. To continue to innovate, healthcare providers must also transform how they approach network security. Fortinet’s third generation security products promise to do just that.