Rema N. Deo, HCISPP Managing Director, 24By7Security, Inc.

The Cybersecurity Landscape Today,

From the Expert’s Eye What does the overall landscape of cybersecurity look like to you in this moment?

The current cybersecurity landscape is a dream come true for cyber crimi- nals. With millions of people work- ing from home these days due to the pandemic, hackers are presented with so many more opportunities to attack insecure home configura- tions to breach corporate networks. Phishing strategies have become more sophisticated and often lever- age people’s desire for free stuff or more information. The number of fake emails offering information related to COVID-19 or the vaccine has multiplied over the past months. The World Health Organization itself was found trying to fend off phish- ing schemes even as it was planning the global response to the pandemic. Cyber criminals used phishing cam- paigns to solicit funds fraudulently in the name of the fight against COVID-19. As 2020 drew to an end and we are now well into 2021, suc- cessful phishing attempts continue to result in increased numbers of ran- somware attacks, and consequently large volumes of data theft. The year 2020 was strange not only in terms of the pandemic, but also

in terms of other types of cyberat- tacks seen. There has been a lot of press about the compromise of the SolarWinds software through mali- cious code injection and the fact that the suspected nation-state actors behind this attack were able to suc- cessfully breach numerous large orga- nizations. Companies researching and developing COVID-19 vaccines have also reported being targeted for theft of their intellectual property.

What are the few biggest challenges to cybersecurity in hospitals, medical groups, and health systems right now?

Just recently, the FBI released a joint security advisory with CISA and HHS where they highlighted the tactics used to target the Healthcare and Public Health sector with a goal of infecting systems with ransom- ware for financial gain. Healthcare is bound to remain a prime target for data breaches because of the amount of valuable sensitive information held. There are continuing credible and imminent threats to healthcare providers where malware is used to not only steal data but also disrupt the quality of healthcare services provided.


Many industry observers believe that the intensity of threats has risen over the past several months. What is your view of that?

Cyber criminals have been working overtime during the pandemic. Law enforcement agencies have reported an 800% surge in cyberattacks even in the early months of the pandemic, and the threats have been relent- less. Trojan malware has been used heavily to target the healthcare sec- tor. We have already touched upon the bizarre hacks in 2020 ranging from World Health Organization solicitations to intellectual property theft in vaccine research projects. Several experts have been talking about the need to prepare ourselves against a possible future global cyber pandemic.

Some believe that network segmentation work remains hopelessly behind in health systems. Would you agree?

It is important for healthcare orga- nizations to protect their networks, systems and sensitive data using segmentation techniques. Larger

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