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Cybersecurity experts’ warnings for the health sector

Cybersecurity experts have warned healthcare providers to be vigilant against threats from hackers, intimating that the industry could become “the apple of the eye for cybercriminals.” 

“Data is sick…As rapid digitalisation penetrates the healthcare sector, cybercriminals are seeing more opportunities to attack this lucrative and critical industry, which is honestly not equipped enough to face this virtual danger,” said Stephen Neumeier, managing director for the Asia Pacific at Kaspersky, a leading cybersecurity firm. It came amidst a Kaspersky-hosted cybersecurity conference in Yangon, Myanmar, attended by executives, cybersecurity experts and journalists from twelve Asia Pacific countries.

Healthcare companies can incur losses of US$23.3 million as a result of cybersecurity breaches, but the sector is underprepared to face hackers. Neumeier pointed to incidents in a number of Asia Pacific countries, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam, where cybersecurity incidents have struck the health sector. 

India is no stranger to the same, witnessing a breach of a healthcare database by hackers earlier this year which resulted in 68 lakh records being stolen. This comes at a time when healthcare data is becoming increasingly digitised, with 76 percent of medical practitioners in India using digital health records. As such, the warnings issued at the conference are apposite and providers need to take note. 

“Given that healthcare is a very critical sector, where a matter of second dictates the difference between life and death, it is not surprising that it evolves quicker compared with other industries,” said Neumeier. “It is filled with advanced research and development because it is always under an emergency alert to cure and save human life. However, are these technological progress at par with its complex cybersecurity requirements? This is the question we wanted to answer in this event. 

“Because the industry may not be as targeted like banks, but perhaps it may be soon be the apple of the eye for cybercriminals. Not today, but given the pattern of attacks we’re seeing, it will soon be.”

“In cyberspace most of us are deaf-blind, because of [the] invisible nature of the threats,” adds cybersecurity expert Vitaly Kamluk. “But the question is are we working hard enough to be able to envision how those threats can affect our health and our lives?”

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