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Impact of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity in Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented shifts to non-traditional settings and an increased use of connected medical devices for patient monitoring. These shifts have  presented cybersecurity professionals with many challenges and opportunities. 

Early on in the pandemic, Interpol and the United States Department of Homeland Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security agency predicted an increase in cyber-attacks targeting the already vulnerable healthcare facilities, critical healthcare institutions and research. Google reported that the amount of malware and phishing emails being blocked was surpassing 

18 million on a daily basis proving that cybercriminals would continue to exploit an industry in the midst of a crisis.
The attacks on the healthcare industry have brought to light the needs for faster security processes and testing to be better equipped to fight off attacks on networks. Three trends that will be widely adopted to increase medical device security are:

  1. An expansion of the defense perimeter to extend beyond a facility’s physical walls. Healthcare organizations will act as though the network has already been compromised and require verification.  
  2. Biomedical Technicians and hospital IT will be working together in a harmonized approach toward a simplified and transparent cybersecurity experience. The life-cycle of medical devices, including communication for routine maintenance and the need for security patches and updates, will be central focus making way to more rapidly deploy and operate new technologies. These measures will be imperative to ensuring medical device security moving forward.
  3. A high priority will be placed in collaboration about threat-intelligence with organizations like the Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center. These organizations provide intel on security vulnerabilities as well as resilience tools and training so organizations are better equipped to handle a cyber-attack. 

Cyber-attacks on the healthcare sector are not ending and will continue long after the world returns to “normal”. Just as cybercriminals have tested and learned from their pursuits during this pandemic, the healthcare industry needs to do the same. Organizations need to evaluate the decisions they made due to necessity, lack of time, and limited resources, and ensure their efforts are focused on increasing medical device security and resilience.


About the Author

Laura Collier

Laura Collier has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida. She is the Marketing Manager at AIV, Inc.

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Medical Device Cybersecurity is Hot Topic at AAMI Exchange