Kaspersky Forecasts Cyber Risks Related to Connected Healthcare in 2022
For the second year in a row, it is time for Kaspersky to unveil its predictions for the healthcare sector as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic linked to COVID-19. Sadly, the virus still dominates most aspects of our lives, and of course the pandemic remains the main and most discussed topic in the medical arena.
Part of our predictions last year were based on the assumption that in 2021 the pandemic would continue for at least a few months. This assumption was found to be correct, as were many of our predictions.
Feedback on Digital and Health Observations in 2021
As we predicted, the number and significance of medical data breaches has increased significantly. A Constella Intelligence report for 2021 revealed that the number of personal data breaches in the medical field has increased by one and a half times compared to 2019. Several factors have contributed to this development. First, the digitization of the healthcare sector has accelerated considerably in the last two years. As a result, the volume of health data breaches has increased. Second, cybercriminals had already started paying more attention to this industry, and their interest in it certainly hasn’t waned in 2021. As we predicted, they continued to actively use medicine as bait, and their victims weren’t just healthcare professionals.
The start of the mass vaccination campaign also led to numerous scam attempts. After the first vaccines appeared on the Internet, and in particular on Dark Web forums, an active online vaccine trade was started, a commercial exchange in which no one could verify the authenticity of the vaccines being sold. However, these criminals found buyers who wanted to receive vaccines as quickly as possible. Later, offers of fake vaccination certificates and various QR codes appeared, bought by users who wanted to avoid the restrictions imposed on unvaccinated people.
Ransomware groups continued to target medical organizations. In September, new research was published showing that these types of attacks have led to increased patient mortality, as well as some delays in test results, treatment availability, and treatment availability. In the fall, the story of a death caused, not in a statistical sense but directly, by a ransomware attack on a medical facility caught media attention. As a result of the ransomware attack, a baby died in an American hospital because the hospital was unable to provide effective treatment due to computers becoming unusable. Unfortunately, despite all the best efforts of medical institutions and IT security companies, the healthcare sector is not sufficiently protected and remains vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Kaspersky’s key predictions for 2022
• Telemedicine will continue to develop actively. This means that new applications for medical consultations and patient health monitoring will emerge, and cybercriminals will have the opportunity to find security holes in a large number of new applications created by programmers who have never created such products before. What’s more, it is highly likely that malicious telehealth app spoofs will appear in app stores, counterfeits that will copy the “real” app and provide the same functionality.
• The demand for fake digital medical documents will increase, as will the supply. The more privileges granted to COVID passport holders, the more people will be interested in purchasing such a passport rather than getting vaccinated or tested.
• Increase the sensitivity of medical data identified in leaks. The data contained in medical records is inherently very sensitive. However, the possibilities of digitizing medical equipment are increasing and providers are increasingly using wearable devices, and even sensors implanted in the human body, which collect even more sensitive data, and data that is not necessarily medical in nature. These devices can, for example, give details of a person’s movements.
• The medical subject will always be a popular subject to use as bait in the schemes of cybercriminals. During the pandemic, more and more medical services were connected, in part or in full, and people were impatient and concerned about the results of tests or the information sent by their doctors. Thus, a letter, presented as an important “medical” notification, can “catch” victims just as easily as bogus messages from banks.
• The increase in the number of data breaches and ransomware attacks against medical organizations clearly shows that there is, among other things, a lack of awareness among healthcare workers about information security. If, in 2022, massive training of medical personnel is not organized -which at this stage is not planned- we will see that the two aforementioned attacks continue to develop.
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