Armis Acquires Silk Security

Learn More
Feb 28, 2024

Attack Surface Management: Healthcare-based Attacks Put Patients at Risk

ekg medical device thumbnail

Whether it is a ransomware attack on a healthcare facility or the launch of an attack against a pharmaceutical manufacturer or distributor, any disruption in the chain of care carries repercussions that extend beyond mere inconvenience. It sheds light on the breadth of mission-critical operations in healthcare and the resultant vital importance of robust attack surface management for organizations.

Healthcare and pharma are consistently in the top three industries that are targeted and often result in significant disruptions for patients and health provider operations. Such incidents underscore the ongoing vulnerabilities of essential healthcare infrastructure to malicious cyber activities and raise pertinent questions regarding the readiness of organizations to combat such threats.

The Cascading Effect of Attacks on Interconnected Healthcare Systems

More recent attacks in healthcare have demonstrated an attack starting out in one area and then laterally creeping to other connected entities and organizations. The fallout of multiple organizations being impacted by a single attack vector has reverberated throughout the healthcare landscape, emphasizing the interdependence and interconnection of various entities within the sector. It has in fact gotten so severe that the American Hospital Association has issued guidance for interconnected systems to disconnect from each other until an attack in question is contained.

One of the critical aspects that healthcare organizations need to come to terms with is the clear and present need to activate attack surface management security practices. Essentially, attack surface management (ASM) refers to all the points where an unauthorized entity can try to enter or extract data from an environment. Attack surface management involves identifying, monitoring, and mitigating these vulnerabilities and vectors to minimize the risk of exploitation by threat actors.

Lessons to Be Heeded in Healthcare Security

The prominence and frequency of healthcare providers in processing multitudes of different types of healthcare transactions accentuate the magnitude of its attack surface. With access to vast amounts of sensitive patient data, including medical records, personal identity, insurance and payment information, the implications of a breach extend far beyond mere operational disruptions. The compromised integrity of such data poses grave risks to patient privacy, financial security, and even personal safety.

Moreover, the timing of an attack is rarely a coincidence. Oftentimes, they occur shortly after an acquisition or joint partnership has taken place. It is an opportune time because of the heightened susceptibility during periods of organizational transition. Mergers and acquisitions often introduce complexities in system integration and operational workflows, creating fertile ground for adversaries to exploit both known and unknown vulnerabilities and weak points.

The healthcare sector, characterized by its reliance on third-party service providers for data management and processing, faces inherent cybersecurity challenges. The interconnected nature of healthcare ecosystems amplifies the potential impact of cyber threats, necessitating a proactive approach to bolstering defenses.

Each security incident serves as a stark reminder of the persistent threats confronting the healthcare sector.  Furthermore, the cyberattacks that target healthcare and pharma underscore the critical importance of robust attack surface management practices for organizations. Cybercriminals continue to target healthcare organizations due to the value of the data they possess, highlighting the imperative for proactive cybersecurity measures. By gaining extreme visibility across every device, every asset and vigilantly identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities across their digital landscape, organizations can fortify their defenses against evolving cyber threats, safeguarding both operational continuity, the integrity of sensitive data, and the safety of patients whose lives may depend on when it comes to healthcare and pharma. Proactive cybersecurity measures are not merely advisable but imperative for preserving trust, resilience, and safety within critical infrastructure domains.

Get Updates

Sign up to receive the latest from Armis.