SA healthcare providers still use legacy OS

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Forty percent of healthcare providers in SA still use medical equipment with legacy operating systems (OS), which exposes them to vulnerabilities and cyber-risks.

This was revealed in Kaspersky’s latest Healthcare report 2021.

During the pandemic, a shift to telehealth, where healthcare is provided remotely by means of telecommunications technologies, was speeded up dramatically. The report aimed to determine whether this mass transition is keeping pace with security measures.

Research discovered that many entities around the world use medical equipment with a legacy OS, due to the high cost of upgrades, compatibility issues, or a lack of internal knowledge on how to upgrade.

Kaspersky says this may lead to cyber-incidents. “When software developers stop supporting a system, they also halt the release of any updates, which among other improvements often contain security patches for discovered vulnerabilities.”

If left unpatched, they can be used by attackers to get a foot in the door of a company’s infrastructure. Healthcare organisations collect a wealth of sensitive and valuable data, making them a highly lucrative target for cyber criminals.

When it came to cyber security readiness, only half (50%) of healthcare workers are confident that their organisation can effectively stop all attacks or breaches at the perimeter.

Another 50% said they were sure their organisation has up to date, adequate hardware and software IT security protection, and 30% believed their organisation had already experienced data leaks, DDOS or ransomware attacks.

Addressing the challenges

Sergey Martsynkyan, VP, corporate product marketing at Kaspersky, says the move to connected services is necessary to meet the demand for accessible help, but it brings a range of security challenges that are typical to embedded systems.

Kaspersky recommends healthcare organisations provide their staff with basic cyber security hygiene training, as many attacks start with phishing or other social engineering techniques.

The company also advises healthcare organisations to carry out a cyber security audit of their networks and remediate any weaknesses discovered in the perimeter or inside the network.

“Install anti-APT and EDR solutions, enabling threat discovery and detection, investigation, and timely remediation of incidents capabilities, and provide the SOC team with access to the latest threat intelligence, as well as regularly upskill them with professional training.”

In addition to proper endpoint protection, dedicated services can help defend against high-profile attacks. Managed detection and response services can help identify and stop attacks in their early stages before the threat actors achieve their goals.

Finally, the company advises to harden embedded systems in medical devices that are rarely updated.

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