We reached out to six healthcare executives for their trends and predictions on healthcare cybersecurity and ransomware to watch in 2022.
Milan Shah, Chief Technology Officer of Biofourmis
Cyberattacks on hospitals and health systems will continue their rapid pace in 2022, but as more providers launch hospitals at home and remote patient management programs and the technology has to traverse enterprise firewall boundaries, it provides attackers an extensive new surface area to attack. The best defense against these will be to choose and implement technical solutions that have the highest degree of secure communications between the patient-facing part of the solution and the backend systems they communicate with.
Leon Lerman, co-founder and CEO of Cynerio
While cyber attacks on critical infrastructure – such as the Colonial Pipeline and a Florida water plant – created a lot of buzz this year, last year we saw a 123% increase in the number of ransomware attacks on the healthcare industry – a trend that has unfortunately continued to plague the healthcare industry throughout 2021. Worse yet, attacks on hospitals have turned deadly. A recent Ponemon Institute report found that ransomware attacks on healthcare providers can lead to increased mortality, and the first ransomware-related fatality in the U.S. was recently reported at Alabama-based Springhill Medical Center.
As we head into 2022, it is likely we will see an increase in both the sheer number of attacks on hospitals as well as severity. It will be critical for hospitals to have proactive response strategies in place to prevent attacks and ensure continuity of care in the event of an attack. Additionally, more government intervention is needed – as has been the case for cyber attacks like that on Colonial Pipeline – to ensure hospitals are prepared with the tools they need to address the evolving threat landscape in healthcare. It could be the difference between life or death.
Tim Quigley, Chief Client Officer, CloudWave
Unfortunately, we expect cyber and ransomware attacks on critical institutions such as hospitals increase and become more sophisticated in 2022. This will only be exacerbated by staffing shortages and continuation of remote working. At this point Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is table stakes for security and increasingly required for cyber insurance coverage. Following MFA, we are seeing clients and their insurers require a new level of backup called ‘immutable backup.’ In cases of ransomware, too often the existing backups are infected along with the primary production environment. An immutable backup is essentially a standalone copy with separate security that is locked to prohibit edits. The concept is similar to a safety deposit box: there are two independent ‘keys’ – security and passwords – outside of the existing environment. That way, in the case of a ransomware attack, the immutable backup is ready to be immediately restored to mitigate the effects of the attack. We expect to see adoption of immutable backups in 2022 similar to the level of MFA adoption in 2021.”
Mark Potter, Chief Information Security Officer at Backblaze
With ransomware threats soaring to record-levels throughout 2021, security will continue to be more important than ever for businesses in 2022. The responsibility of maintaining protection will fall to the entire C-Suite, including CEOs, COOs, and CFOs – not just the CIOs. More companies will look to adopt capabilities that buffer their line of defense, like immutability or object lock protections. And the 3-2-1 backup approach (having three copies of your data, on two different media with one copy offsite) will evolve from highly recommended to bare minimum with more orgs updating to the 3-2-1-1-0 (having three copies of your data, on two different media, one copy offsite, one copy air gapped and zero errors on recoverability solutions), or 4-3-2 approaches ((having four copies of your data, in three different locations with two copies offsite).
Mac McMillan, CEO of Cynergistek
Unlike other industries, given the truly life-or-death nature of the healthcare industry, healthcare organizations will continue to pay a higher price when it comes to the rapid increase in ransomware demands. This will not only impact already-strained healthcare budgets, but will continue to jeopardize patient safety, extend hospital stays, increase botched procedures, and adversely impact our nation’s mortality rate.
James Carder, CSO of LogRhythm
The supply chain of a major vaccine manufacturer will be halted by ransomware. In 2021, ransomware attacks crippled Colonial Pipeline and JBS. In 2022, cybercriminals will set their sights on carrying out a ransomware attack against one of the pharmaceutical companies producing the COVID-19 vaccine. This will interrupt the production of critical booster shots and keep many other lifesaving drugs from reaching patients. The resulting fallout will fan the flame for foreign and domestic vaccine disinformation campaigns.