Healthcare cyber attacks intensify

Read time 2min 20sec
The data that cyber criminals can access through the health industry is extremely valuable to them, says Gregory Anderson, country manager, Trend Micro SA.
The data that cyber criminals can access through the health industry is extremely valuable to them, says Gregory Anderson, country manager, Trend Micro SA.

Cyber criminals have intensified attacks on the healthcare industry.

That's according to a new report by security solutions provider Trend Micro, which says a combination of newer and older threat variations defined the cyber security landscape in the first quarter of 2015.

From an industry perspective, says Trend Micro, healthcare and retail point-of-sale systems have seen an uptick in threat activity.

It notes major healthcare service providers such as Premera Blue Cross and Anthem suffered data breaches that exposed millions of customers' financial and medical data.

"The data that cyber criminals can gain access to through the health industry is extremely valuable to them," says Gregory Anderson, country manager, Trend Micro SA.

"This was highlighted in the breaches against Anthem and Premera Blue Cross in which names, e-mail addresses and other personal information of millions of patients and insurers were lost. I think cyber criminals continue to target healthcare because although it holds more information on customers than any other sector, it does not necessarily use the most effective security solutions, or stay updated with modern cyber crime tactics."

Anderson believes the attacks in the past quarter highlight that security in the health industry needs to become a priority. Until this happens, he fears, cyber criminals will take advantage of any easy target or holes in security they come across.

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The healthcare organisations need to make data security a priority and ensure they have the best security solutions in place, he urges.

Adware also topped the list of mobile threats, with Trend Micro now documenting more than five million Android threats to date - nearing the predicted total of eight million by the close of 2015.

In fact, the vendor says top malicious and high-risk apps blocked by Trend Micro were adware-related, reflecting this increase.

According to Anderson, the increase in malicious and high-risk Android adware apps was probably due to users having no control over the ads that pop up on their screens because these apps display advertising content often without the consent of mobile device users.

He advises users to ensure they stick to tried-and-tested security solutions that have been proven to work in the industry and don't take for granted that the application has been security-tested as this is not the case with Android applications.

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