Number of cyber attacks in healthcare on the rise

The risk of cyber attacks has increased, especially in the gaming, education and healthcare industries. In addition, attacks from the network are increasingly taking longer – up to weeks and months. This is reflected in the current situation report on IT security from Radware. The IT security specialist identified several major cyber threats for the coming year in its Global Application and Network Security Report 2014-2015 report.

The cyber attacks are taking longer and longer. Meanwhile, most attacks last several weeks. The most frequently cited attack duration in 2014 was one month. At the same time, 19 percent of the largest attacks were permanent. These findings are in stark contrast to the security situation in previous years, when never more than six percent of recorded attacks were classified as long-lasting. The increasing duration and severity of attacks poses a major threat primarily because most companies and organizations are not prepared for them. For example, 52 percent of companies are currently only able to maintain their defenses for one day or even less.

The threat situation has also worsened for healthcare and education companies in particular, as well as in mobile telecommunications, which have only been attacked comparatively rarely to date. In the coming year, their risk of attack is to be assessed as medium high.

Clinics, doctors, insurance companies and government agencies must act: Lack of security measures fosters theft and misuse of patient data. German healthcare system severely weakened by cybercrime, security of medical or patient data not fully guaranteed. The company Protected Networks GmbH warns that it is particularly frightening how easy it is to steal data. A self-experiment by the Rheinische Post in the summer of 2014 also proves this. Reported on experiment to learn third-party data from health insurer. Alarming result: only a few pieces of information, such as the date of birth of the third party in question, were enough to find out what was wanted about him or her.

IT firms are developing security software that visualizes technology and organizes access rights to sensitive data in real time. For example, even in an almost completely digitized healthcare system, doctors, insurance companies and official bodies can reliably and efficiently secure sensitive private data as they would in a bank vault.

"This means not only protection for the patient, but also more security for the operators. Today, managers often have no idea exactly where individual patient data is or who has access to it. This puts the identity of each individual in the greatest danger," says Stephan Brack, CEO of Protected Networks GmbH.

To optimally protect patient data, the security expert advises authorities and companies to focus on internal IT structures first. "This is the only way that a clinic, for example, can find out in a short time who has and had access to the enormous amount of patent data in the first place," says Brack. This initial overview quickly exposes many sins from the past, he said. For example, it also shows how many former employees are still on the server.

In past years, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks were primarily directed against servers or firewalls. In the meantime, however, Internet access has become the number one weak point. This was primarily due to an increase in UDP(User Datagram Protocol) attacks. UDP is a network protocol whose job is to match data transmitted over the Internet to the right applications.

In 2015, the vast majority of DDoS attacks will definitively use multiple attack methods simultaneously to breach defenses. This mix of methods primarily includes anonymization, masking and fragmentation of malicious data packets, the use of dynamic parameters, circumvention and coding techniques, so-called parameter pollution, and extensive abuse of application functions.

Cloud computing and the Internet of Things are creating new security vulnerabilities, with the result that traditional corporate IT networks are disintegrating. Thus, the trend toward cloud computing continues unabated, the Internet of Things is on the rise, and traditional hardware-based networks are increasingly being replaced by "software defined networks". These are virtual networks based on software. These trends pose entirely new challenges for IT security teams, as defending against attackers must take place on a much broader front. In 2015, it can be amed that hackers will specifically exploit the vulnerabilities that arise during these upheavals.

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