Ransomware and Data Breaches Top Threats in Health IT
Featuring George Gray, CTO and VP of research & development, Ivenix: Featured in MedTech Intelligence, 11/13/20
This year has further accelerated the digital health revolution. The pandemic has also exposed vulnerabilities in the healthcare system, and the challenges that hospitals and medtech companies faced as a result. In a discussion with MedTech Intelligence, George Gray, CTO and VP of research & development at Ivenix, shares some of the top trends that are threatening health IT, along with 2021 predictions for the healthcare and medtech arena.
MedTech Intelligence: What are the current top threats to health IT?
George Gray: I see two cybersecurity threats in the health IT space.
The first is ransomware, which continues to become more prevalent in healthcare. A recent example of this is the Ryuk attacks that, once again, are placing several hospitals in the U.S. under siege. With this type of threat, attackers try to take control of the hospital’s system through encryption of its data or in another way that compromises the system until their demands are met. This is going to continue being a major issue for health systems. In fact, IBM predicted another surge in ransomware delivered via connected devices this year targeting healthcare organizations—and last year, 491 of the 621 successful ransomware attacks were against U.S. healthcare companies.
The second top threat is data breaches. Compared to other businesses and systems, hospitals are unique in that the data they hold gives attackers a breadth of personal patient information, including social security numbers, billing details, health concerns and overall demographics. Attackers can break into electronic medical record (EMR) systems and steal that personal data, leaving patients vulnerable to identity theft.
MTI: What role do you see real-time data playing in the healthcare space in 2021?
George Gray:: Real-time data has always been key to assessing patient conditions and coming up with a plan of attack. With the recent [pandemic], we’ve seen the need to gain access to reliable healthcare data that, though not changing in real time, is evolving at a rapid pace and critical in the containment of this invisible enemy.
Today, there are large amounts of real-time data available to clinicians, who are responsible for using the information to form a plan of care for their patients. Relative to other industries where data collection and correlation is more automated, having highly skilled clinicians bear the brunt of most of this work is fairly labor-intensive and costly. With the growing costs of healthcare, this obviously begs the question: How can we drive down these costs while maintaining or improving the quality of care being delivered?
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