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COVID-19 pandemic spurs cyber-attacks on healthcare sector, says report

According to new research, as the healthcare and pharma sector relies on IT throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber-attacks will be inevitable.

Cyber-attacks and cyber-security

The global healthcare sector has been subjected to an array of cyber-attacks as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, says GlobalData.

Rajesh Muru, Principal Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created further challenges in the healthcare sector as IT business units prioritise IT budgets and focus on business continuity in running IT under the new norm. From an enterprise architecture perspective, having tighter integration across the IT environment is positive in terms of creating agility and having tighter data integration. However, it makes the network vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as email phishing, ransomware, denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and network data breaches.”

According to the report, the healthcare sector relies on the internet and its IT backbone is a key reason it is the subject of cyber-attacks. This covers Hospital Information Systems (HIS) entailing laboratory information systems (LIS), policy and procedure management systems (PPM), personal health records (PHR), radiology information systems (RIS) and more importantly, email servers. This also covers a number of endpoint devices entailing various patient-monitoring equipment that either connects to the internet or via legacy dispersed networks that are often unpatched.

…the healthcare sector relies on the internet and its IT backbone is a key reason it is the subject of cyber-attacks”

Despite the challenges faced by enterprise IT and security heads in the healthcare sector, in the last two years leaders have demonstrated a desire to take positive steps to increase security measures across enterprise IT and networks. GlobalData also reports seeing a greater proportion (five to 10 percent) of the IT budget spent on cyber-security. However, a number of barriers still exist in providing greater levels of security. 

Muru concluded: “Organisations in the healthcare sector should not be complacent and must consider options to address the security gaps that currently exist in their IT healthcare ecosystem and look for early wins.”

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