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Innovation and security must go hand-in-hand

By 28 April 2023 June 5th, 2023 Blog
innovatie en security

Further digitalization and automatization of processes will enable work in the health care sector to be done more efficiently. This does mean however, that digital resilience will be put to the test.

Digital resilience in the health care sector is being tested more and more. Cyber attackers are actively on the lookout for vulnerabilities in the infrastructure to exploit them. Therefore investments in digital innovations must be accompanied by suitable security measures and an impulse in awareness among employees.


One of the pillars of efficiently setting up the care chain is streamlining the provision of information. This requires a high degree of integration between information systems and business applications. Files with often privacy-sensitive information need to be able to be shared, and processes and applications must be accessible throughout the entire chain.
We are also seeing the rise of e-health and mobile health solutions; devices on or near the patient monitoring their health. Data is fed back through Internet of Things solutions so that measured values can be assessed and intervention, if needed, is possible. Additionally we are seeing more consultations taking place over a video connection, partially as a result of the pandemic.

Direct damage to health care

These kinds of networks with many different devices and applications are also found in industrial environments where machines are equipped with sensors to monitor wear on certain parts. The big difference with health care however, is that immediate damage can be done to patients’ and clients’ health in the event of a security incident. If cybercriminals manage to gain access to the core of the IT environment, is might be possible to hack devices in the client’s surroundings or next to their bed. Subsequently the hacked systems can be encrypted. The consequences are significant: treatment rooms can not be used or the emergency department can not take on any new patients.

Vulnerabilities are exploited

Smart technology calls for different cybersecurity measures than the regular IT environments such as workplaces and corresponding devices. Installing Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions on such devices is difficult or has been made impossible by the manufacturer. A decent EDR solution plays an essential role in ransomware prevention. Research by Verizon shows that nearly half (47 percent) of mobility related incidents are caused by the device itself. Actually due to the lack of patches or firmware updates. In an attempt to work more efficiently and take quicker and better decisions based on collected data, you end up exposing yourself to the great risk of vulnerabilities in this dynamic IT landscape being exploited – and as a result you as a care facility are faced with ransomware and critical processes being interrupted.

Network Detection and Response

In most cases, implementing Network Detection and Response (NDR) is preferred, as a result of aforementioned limitations and challenges. Doing so will timely intercept deviant or malicious network behavior without any impact on critical health care devices and applications. Additionally, it is possible for network connections to be shut down automatedly if malicious actions are detected.

Security and threat landscape

Now that care facilities are keeping track of which innovations and technologies are causing the desired efficiency, it is imperative for them to take a look at their security landscape. This, consequently, has to be weighed against the threat landscape. Health care mainly has to deal with organized groups of cybercriminals mainly driven by financial gain. Whether by threatening to publish valuable data on the dark web, or with the use of ransomware. They, among others, gain access through ill-secured devices, as we concluded earlier. But we are also seeing that cloud applications are being attacked, often with stolen password.

A cause of data breaches that can not be overlooked: human error caused by internal employees. For example, think of sending documents to the wrong persons by including too many people in the CC. Therefore continuous training aimed at awareness among employees is essential.

Mix between hard and soft solutions

So, there are various elements to the health care sector that together determine the level of digital resilience. The takeaway is to expose all weak spots in the security approach, to analyze how possible adversaries would want to exploit them, and lastly implement the right solutions. This will results in a collection of hard (technological) and soft (human-centered) solutions that will enable an opportunity to optimally profit from health care innovations while remaining secure.