On December 8th, 2022 the U.S Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Information Security’s Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) released a detailed brief titled Automation & Hacking: Potential Impacts on Healthcare. In it, they explore the development of malicious automated software and the significant risk posed by cyber crimes targeting healthcare enterprises.

At least 590 provider organizations have reported personal health information (PHI) data breaches to the HHS’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) since the start of 2022. The total losses impacted 48.6 million individual records—up from just 40 million in 2021.

According to the HC3, healthcare organizations face substantial automated threats involving social engineering operations, phishing/spear phishing attempts, credential stuffing, brute force attacks, and many other new forms of artificial intelligence-generated malware. Malicious threat actors leverage automation to launch attacks with global reach at scale.

Cybercriminals leverage artificial intelligence to design better malware that is easier to detect, isolate, and mitigate. To respond, cybersecurity specialists use machine learning-enabled penetration testing tools to proactively scan the threat environment. Hackers use automation at scale to identify personal information, financial data, medical research, and corporate data.

Malicious threat actors launch cyber attacks against healthcare enterprises using a variety of open-source automated cyberattack tools:

  • Nmap
  • Wireshark
  • Legion
  • Jok3r
  • Zed Proxy Attack 11
  • Nikto2
  • OpenSCAP
  • Sqlmap
  • Scapy
  • CrackStation

Today’s cybersecurity threat landscape is unlike ever seen before. Private health information is one of the most lucrative targets for criminals interested in quickly executing automated cyber attacks using highly sophisticated malware applications and crimeware-as-a-service (CaaS).

In this article, learn more about HC3’s perspectives on what healthcare organizations need to do to protect their organizations from the pervasive and rapidly expanding landscape of automated hacking threats.

Supply Chain Attacks are on the Rise:

Securing America’s Healthcare System Requires a Holistic Approach

Since the start of 2022, 99% of cyber attacks targeting healthcare organizations were launched through their supply chains. Supply chain cyber attacks launched against third-party vendors can have devastating consequences as attacks complete lateral movements to gain further access to system resources.

The vast majority of cyber attacks being launched against healthcare organizations today are being perpetrated using automated software solutions. Automation offers incredible benefits for healthcare organizations but also provides adversarial hackers with the firepower they need to launch attacks around the clock, at scale using highly advanced, metamorphic structures that are extremely difficult to defend against.

Supply chain attacks against healthcare providers succeed by penetrating an organization’s weakest links. This form of cybercrime is a type of island-hopping attack that hackers launch in hopes of gaining greater access to vital system resources and data which can be used to infect other businesses in the supply chain.

Countering the persistent threat of cyber-attacks requires healthcare organizations to adopt a holistic approach and leverage the positive defensive benefits of automation and implement cyber security best practices at every level of their organizational structure.

Medical devices, digital health apps, and electronic health record (EHR) software are just a few entry points for criminal hackers. It is essential for healthcare organizations to adopt modern cybersecurity strategies such as zero-trust frameworks, end-point security, and the cyber kill chain.

Managing Cybersecurity Risk in the Digital Health Ecosystem

Safeguarding your healthcare organization against the threat of cyber attacks is essential to fulfilling corporate risk management criteria.

Accomplishing the task requires embracing cybersecurity as an organizational priority and leveraging resources towards implementing best practices such as zero-trust frameworks, two-factor authentication, end-point security, and the cyber kill chain defensive posture.

Managing cybersecurity risk across the digital health ecosystem requires:

  • Constantly evaluating, analyzing, and responding to risks posed by third parties. These efforts should be intelligent, coordinated, and ongoing.
  • Constantly evaluating the system resources that employees, third-party contractors, or suppliers require access to. Reduce the number of individuals responsible for installing and modifying third-party software solutions.
  • Emphasize supply chain-wide response and remediation plans to ensure a fast response time and manage the damage of an attack.
  • Review who has access to what organizational data. Information security is mission-critical to the success of your healthcare organization.
  • Ensure your third-party vendors are practicing proper data security best practices when handling your organization’s information.
  • Invest in professionals, tools, and training opportunities to improve your organization’s cyber resilience. Improving cybersecurity is an ongoing quality assurance process.

Develop Custom Healthcare Solutions to Remove Third Party Risk

Our organizations are only as secure as our partners. Third-party risk places your healthcare providers at unnecessary risk. Hackers threaten your success and limit your organization’s potential. Safeguarding your healthcare enterprise against third-party risk is an essential part of risk management.

Asahi Technologies is a New-York based custom software development firm that delivers holistic, cutting-edge technology solutions for web, desktop, mobile, and platforms for competitive healthcare organizations. Powered by a core leadership team with more than 45 years of combined experience, we leverage our proven technical proficiency and incisive domain expertise to deliver life-saving digital health technology solutions.

FAQ

What is automation?

Automation is a term used to describe technologies that streamline, expedite, and improve manual processes. Hackers leverage automation to launch cyber attacks. Cybersecurity professionals implement automation in the cyber kill chain to mitigate the attacks.

What are data breaches?

Data breaches are events where hackers gain access to sensitive organizational data by penetrating an organization’s network security. Personal health information is a very lucrative target which makes data breaches against healthcare organizations attractive targets for hackers.

What are AI generated cyber attacks?

Artificial intelligence-generated cyber attacks are launched using hacking tools such as Nmap, Wireshark, Legion, Jok3r, Zed Proxy Attack 11, Nikto2, OpenSCAP, Sqlmap, Scapy, and CrackStation.

What is the cyber kill chain?

The cyber kill chain is a defensive protocol developed by Lockheed Martin in 2011 for use with the United States military. This system is comprised of 8 phases:
Phase 1: Reconnaissance
Phase 2: Weaponization
Phase 3: Delivery
Phase 4: Exploitation
Phase 5: Installation
Phase 6: Command and Control
Phase 7: Actions on Objective
Phase 8: Perimeter Security

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