Government, Industry Take Important Action to Attract Cybersecurity Workers

As U.S. cybersecurity risks become more intense, it’s essential that an adequate workforce exists to safeguard the American people and their physical and online assets.

Yet there is currently a shortage of about 4 million cybersecurity workers worldwide, an increase of more than 1 million from 2018, according to (ISC)², a nonprofit providing cybersecurity certifications. To properly defend American organizations from cyberattacks, the workforce needs to grow 145 percent—by about 500,000 professionals—to fill the gap, according to the nonprofit’s findings.

Fortunately, Congress is taking an important step to expand the cybersecurity workforce and provide the necessary training and education. Legislation was introduced by four U.S. senators this month that provide resources to recruit and educate the next generation of cybersecurity workers. Specifically, The Harvesting American Cybersecurity Knowledge through Education (HACKED) Act—or the “HACKED Act of 2019” aims to “bolster existing science education” and cyber programs within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Transportation. Similar legislation already has been introduced in the U.S. House.

In addition to the legislation, major companies like Google, Facebook, IBM, Verizon, and Apple are taking action to close the cybersecurity jobs gap. They have joined a coalition called the Aspen Cybersecurity Group to encourage employers to place more emphasis on “real-world” skills vs. academic degrees so that more workers are considered qualified to fill crucial positions in the security industry.

Integrated Security Technologies is encouraged by the commitment of industry and government to narrow the cybersecurity workforce gap. We are dedicated to securing people, property and data through unique yet integrated security solutions. Our mission is absolute protection. To properly protect all of our environments and endeavors, we need the continued support of our elected officials and leading mobile and technology companies. Let’s continue to get serious about cyber threats and the shortage of workers needed to confront this urgent challenge.

Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business

There’s still no end in sight to the constant onslaught of cyberattacks on today’s businesses, both large and small. Although we’re bombarded with headlines about the big breaches, small businesses are just as vulnerable. The 2018 Hiscox Small Business Cybersecurity Report tells us that 47 percent of small businesses experienced an attack in the past 12 months and 60 percent of these companies then folded within six months – yet just 52 percent of businesses have a cybersecurity strategy.

While most businesses understand the importance of a strong cybersecurity strategy, they may not truly understand the why – how strong security equates to better business outcomes, like solid financial health, a good reputation and high marks for customer satisfaction and trust. Leaders must make this connection clear so more businesses are spurred to action.

Here are five of the latest strategies that bad actors are using to penetrate companies’ valuable data. Take some time now to make sure you’re prepared as these risks evolve; as the statistics show, no company or organization is immune, and the risks accelerate as new threats proliferate. Staying on top of these latest threats is one of the surest ways to keep your company cybersecure:

  1. Fight Mobile Malware – Since mobile device usage is barreling towards computer usage in terms of web visits and email access, mobile devices are also extremely vulnerable to malware. Although many companies try to prepare for this with security patches, they run into privacy concerns that stunt these attempts. Android bases are most at risk since a large majority of the devices are running older versions of the program that are vulnerable to attack. To remedy this, companies can provide anti-malware solutions for their mobile devices.
  2. Secure Your Internet of Things (IoT) Devices – We’ve covered this at length in previous blog entries. IoT devices compound security threats because they are networked, and thus exposed to attacks through the internet. As companies add more and more devices to their systems, including smart devices to manage HVAC, electricity, security and more, the threats multiply. These devices are made by different manufacturers and have varying levels of security. It’s important to devise a strategy to inventory and properly manage the security features of these devices to prevent breaches.
  3. Beware of Cryptojacking – We’ve seen the destruction that ransomware can wreak on companies and organizations with networks that are not properly protected or backed up. These large ransom sums make big headlines, and paying the hackers doesn’t always guarantee the safe return of stolen data. It’s a pernicious threat that affects all types of companies, municipalities and other organizations. Cryptojacking is a maneuver that takes ransomware one step further. Deploying malware technology strains that are very similar to the Petya and NotPetya strains of ransomware, criminals mine for cryptocurrency in the background while your computer is running other programs. Known as cryptomining or cryptojacking, it’s a threat that no sized business is exempt from. Anyone with a network can be at risk.
  4. Implement Secure Cross-Site Scripting – According to Forrester, cross-site scripting, or XSS, comprises 21 percent of current vulnerabilities. This weakness can be addressed when sites are developed, but often companies fail to do so. XSS attacks use content sharing websites like blogs, video sharing sites or message boards as a weapon by enabling hackers to add their own code into a victim’s browser, interact with the victim under the guise of that trusted site, then extract the cookie information that helped authenticate their account. Bad actors with this access can also steal other valuable information, change page content, deploy trojan horse viruses or perform other malicious acts. For your own site, the first protection is prevention, with careful attention to this risk during website development. To fix sites that your employees access, try using a bug bounty program that identifies and publicizes attacks.
  5. Prepare for Geopolitical Risks – Even though a company might not conduct business internationally, chances are that its vendors do. This is one of the most insidious and increasing pathways into organizations, as vendors share emails and other communications that open up a way for bad actors to pounce. In addition to working with international vendors, many businesses store their data in international sites that are vulnerable as well. While geopolitical risk was a more physical concern in years past, it is very much a cyber one now. Hackers around the world are actively trying to breach networks and cause damage to companies here in the U.S.. Again, no one is immune from these attacks. Be aware of what you share with vendors and ensure that your data is stored in a safe site.

The cybersecurity landscape is changing all the time. If you have concerns about these or other cybersecurity threats, you can reach us here.

Most at Risk, Yet Least Secure: Why Hospitals Need Stronger Cybersecurity Now More than Ever

In a post last year called “Are There Holes in Healthcare Cybersecurity?” we covered the growing discrepancy facing our healthcare system. Although this information-rich industry is one of the most desirable targets for cyberhackers, it’s also one of the least protected from them, especially when it comes to the amount of money devoted to cybersecurity budgets.

Whereas the medical field generally allocates about 5% of their total IT budget towards security, Gartner tells us that other industries like financial services companies spend 7.3%, retail and wholesale companies spend 6.1% and insurance companies spend 5.7%. In fact, for the thirteen analyzed industries, the average spend was around 6%. This disparity is causing many headaches for healthcare companies across the nation, especially since they experienced deadly data breaches that affected more than 59% of the U.S. population in the last decade. And it’s an upward moving trend. One breach per day is being reported.

This problem is perhaps most notable in Illinois right now, where 27 healthcare providers and companies suffered data breaches just in the past two years, ensnaring at least 500 patients. Rush University Medical Center, a nationally renowned hospital in Chicago, recently experienced a breach that compromised the sensitive information of 45,000 patients.

What Healthcare Facilities Have that Hackers Want

“They [hospitals] have the holy grail of personal data in their systems,” said Mark Greisiger, president of NetDiligence, a cyber risk management services company. Hackers usually seek black-market profitable records like social security numbers, health insurance information and medical records; these are used to open other accounts that destroy the victim’s credit. In Rush University Medical Center’s case, names, birthdays, social security numbers, addresses and health insurance were captured when one of the hospital system’s billing processing vendors sent a file to hacker.

Now compound that mistake with the sickening reality that this information is constantly flying around networks as its shared among hospitals, other healthcare venues, vendors, billers, insurance companies and other groups. A hacker’s opportunities to exploit these sometimes unprotected networks by deploying ransomware, phishing or otherwise leveraging some other entry point into the system become exponential. In Rush’s case, it was the vendor that proved to be the weak link. This is quite common. Over 20% of past breaches occurred when a vendor, consultant or other third party shared sensitive information with a criminal party.

Can Bigger Budgets Make it Better?

So why aren’t budgets aligned with these challenges? If you add the increasing budget pressures associated with providing excellent patient care, many times these cybersecurity budgets get relegated to the back burner. The Illinois Health and Hospital Association reports that 36% of Illinois hospitals are operating in the red. Unless there is a recent breach that hits close to home, cybersecurity budgets are often skipped in favor of the proverbial squeaky wheels.

Yet all of this may be changing. More than 38 percent of health care organizations have increased cybersecurity spending over the previous year, according a survey done by Black Book Research. Some systems, like Advocate and Amita Health, which has 19 hospitals in Illinois, have hired executives dedicated solely to data security.

Sometimes even money can’t help. In these cases, education is one of the strongest weapons. When employees are aware of phishing tactics they can more effectively thwart them. Patients need to be careful too. Many times, they’ll receive what looks like a legitimate email from a respected company that prompts them to share their sensitive information – or even download malware that allows hackers access to the network.

It’s an ongoing battle that this industry knows too well. But when critical information – and ultimately lives – are at stake, the dedication of time, education and money is well worth it.

Learn more about healthcare cybersecurity by visiting our website.

SIA 2019 Security Megatrends 3 & 4 – What You Need to Know

This post, we are doing a deeper dive into SIA’s 2019 Security Megatrends 3 and 4. Let’s begin with Megatrend 3 …

Megatrend 3 – Is Security Keeping up with Cloud Computing?
Are cloud computing and security on par? The short answer is no, at least according to widely held perceptions. The residential and consumer markets have faith in cloud security, especially since they’re more focused on the cloud’s unparalleled convenience and ease of use; however, on the commercial front, possibly because there’s more at stake, businesses are skeptical.

The SIA’s 2019 Security Megatrends report quotes Harry Regan, the Vice President of Securicon, as saying, “Everyone thought the cloud would be more secure, and it wasn’t. That reality and some of the data have kind of made some chief information officers a little gun shy of new things.”

They have several reasons to worry about cloud computing and security:

  • There’s a lack of regulatory compliance standards, which is not acceptable to high-risk and government users and prevents further adoption.
  • They’re not sure how and if it’s possible to ensure privacy by permanently segmenting and removing some customers’ data.
  • There could be an about-face. If cloud computing loses favor as a safe method of security management, companies will seek other solutions.

Despite the perception, many respected companies trust in the cloud. Without the cloud, digital driven Netflix, Pinterest, Dropbox and so many others contend that they couldn’t operate their business models as efficiently or as securely. Physical security continues to move to the cloud model as well, migrating to SaaS, cloud computing and managed services. These entities are attracted to its convenience, scalability, safeguards, efficiencies and other benefits.

By 2022, IHS Market predicts, the global off-premises cloud service market revenue will reach $414 billion. If the cloud is not secure, this will pose astronomical cybersecurity issues.

Will Edge Computing Edge Out the Cloud?
In recent years, edge computing has become more popular due to new generations of technology and increased flexibility. Edge computing refers to a distributed computing model where the large majority of computations are made on nodes like smart devices, IoT or edge devices, versus the centralized cloud. They are so named because of their proximity to an enterprise, metropolitan or other network, not the cloud. Since the server resources, AI and data analysis are closer to the data collection source, edge computing helps platforms like smart cities, ubiquitous computing and physical computing as well as applications like AR, cloud gaming and the IoT.

What at first seems like the antithesis to the centralized distribution of the cloud may actually be a synergistic force. The SIA report predicts that cloud computing and edge computing will develop concurrently and synergistically, since cloud services will be managed on centralized servers as well as in distributed servers on premises and also on edge devices, which are growing more stable and reliable.

Only the future can tell which way cloud and edge computing will grow.

Megatrend 4 – The Security Skills Shortage and 5 Ways to Overcome It:
The challenges of workforce development and finding skilled security professionals at every level is a new trend for the report, but it’s no less important, especially since it clocks in at number four.

The overall job unemployment rate is at an all-time low, so this troubling security skills shortage trend is an anomaly. Even though security is a high-tech industry, it’s not always recognized as such or give that cache. Add in the relatively new fields of cybersecurity, AI and privacy expertise to the traditional IT and networking skillset, and it becomes even harder to find the right people.

According to the SIA report, filling the pipeline with younger workers may be the key to counteracting this dilemma. Most importantly, the industry needs to re-frame its image as progressive, innovative and IT-centric to make it imminently more attractive to job seekers.

Five Ways to Overcome the Deficit:
Provide Big Picture Benefits: Security jobs must promise work-life balance and the potential for growth that other industries are offering.

Leverage AI: Your HR team can use AI to screen candidates, automate interview scheduling and even ensure constant contact throughout the hiring process.

Try the Gig Economy: This model is thriving, and is a great source of talented workers that can be tapped long term or even temporarily.

Partner with local colleges and technical schools: You’re the experts in your field. Share this knowledge with schools by providing lecturers so you can engage new talent first hand.

Start at the Beginning: Focus on entry-level positions and then increase expertise with in-house training to ensure that their training is current and applicable.

These two trends will make a big impact on the security market this year. Both suffer from perception issues. It remains to be seen whether they can be readily addressed to pave the way towards both greater cloud adoption and greater security workforce numbers.

SIA 2019 Security Megatrends 1 & 2 – What You Need to Know

The next set of blog posts will explore the SIA’s forecasted 2019 Security Megatrends in order of importance. We are going to dive into Megatrends #1 and #2 in our first post.

Megatrend 1: 8 Smart Ways to Integrate Physical and Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity’s impact on physical security moved from the number two spot in 2018 to claim the number one security concern in the new year. This year will continue the escalating arms race between security professionals and cybersecurity criminals.

Several newer cybersecurity threats are forecast to dominate the landscape. According to “The Cybersecurity Imperative” produced by ESI ThoughtLab and WSJ Pro Cybersecurity in partnership with the SIA and other organizations, AI, the IoT and blockchain technologies, in conjunction with the proliferation of open platforms, will be the largest risk factors in cybersecurity. This comprehensive report also foresees most risks coming through electronic interactions with partners, customers, vendors and supply chains as businesses become more interconnected.

How do you secure both your physical and cyber assets against these growing threats? The following provides 8 ways to best integrate physical and cybersecurity:

  1. Nix default passwords in your software and equipment: This is one of the top ways for hackers to install malware, phish for information or deploy ransomware, all potentially devastating ways to access your network.
  2. Test and test some more: Software, hardware and other products, whether they be IoT or another, benefit from a thorough testing period. Ideally, you should test multiple times and have a third party test them as well.
  3. Know your risks: Use a monitoring program that tracks and reports vulnerabilities, or hire a security company to help you with this important task. Then prioritize the list and devise a plan for addressing all risks.
  4. Dive into your software and firmware: Are your updates up to date? Do you know who’s using your software and firmware? Run regular reports to catch any vulnerabilities and only grant access to authorized users.
  5. Designate a central command: Create a security resource center for your customers and security integrators to keep everyone on the same page. Where there are communication gaps, seek to fill them. Silos can breed security breaches.
  6. Educate, educate, educate: Ensure that your security training program is up to speed and that all employees receive ample and ongoing training.
  7. Start early with cybersecurity: Build cybersecurity into every product development cycle. When you integrate it early, you can find holes.
  8. Repeat: Cybersecurity risks aren’t going away. As they get stronger, your security needs to be strengthened too. Stay ahead of the curve. Keep learning, tweaking and improving.

These steps go a long way towards securing both physical and cyber spaces.

Megatrend 2: Top Challenges and Opportunities as the IoT and Big Data Converge
Big data is big business. A recent Accenture study showed that 79% of enterprise executives believe that companies that do not embrace big data will lose their competitive positions and even face extinction. On the flip side, 83% are embracing big data to gain a competitive edge.

Data continues to mount as more and more devices join this data collection party. From drones to robotics, to SaaS to the IoT, connected devices and platforms are generating data at an alarming speed, which makes it difficult to properly protect. When it comes to crucial information like healthcare, financial or other sensitive information, security becomes the ultimate challenge. How do we keep this data safe as the Iot and big data converge so that we can use both to benefit our businesses as well as our lives?

Let’s break down the challenges and opportunities:

Challenge: By 2020, Statista predicts that there will be between 6.6 and 30 billion IoT connected devices. With more data comes the need for more ways to communicate that data to the end user and responding authorities efficiently and securely.
Opportunity: Analytics and AI to the rescue. With these superpowers, it’s infinitely easier to parse and digest big data. As more devices collect information, these newer technologies can help enterprises put the information to work. On the security front, this equates to faster response times for security system users and the responding authorities.

Challenge: The IoT and other smart platforms provide an easy way in for potential hackers to breach the physical-cyber security connection. Any connected devices are at great risk, and open connections make them even more vulnerable.
Opportunity: If set early, the enabling data analytics function yields safer and more productive data generation. For instance, certain types of dashboarding and IoT enablement facilitate this. With better built in protection, these devices can counteract various threats.

2019 promises to be a year of big changes for as IoT and big data converge. The companies that seize these trends and the opportunities that go with them will be the ones that come out ahead.

The Cybersecurity Apocalypse: How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks

ESI ThoughtLab and WSJ Pro Cybersecurity recently teamed up with a group of other thought leaders to bring us The Cybersecurity Imperative, a rigorously researched reportthat continues to raise the alarm that cybersecurity is the most important security priority we face today and heading into the next few years.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, reiterates this: “We are facing an urgent crisis in cyberspace. The CAT 5 hurricane has been forecast, and we must prepare.” According to the report, cybercrime will be a $6 trillion annual expense worldwide by 2021, exceeding the GDPs of both the UK and France.

One overarching security challenge is the dearth of shared best practices and benchmarking among governments and corporations on how to prevent and how to survive a cyber attack. This interactive report seeks to remedy that, and this post distills the most important and actionable information for your use:

1. Beware of Digital Backlash: Companies adding new technology, using open platforms or connecting with partners and suppliers open up new channels for hackers to disrupt faster than they can be secured. Firms are already battling malware (81% reported this), phishing (64%), ransomware (63%), viruses (62%) and app attacks (62%). In the next two years, new issues will arise through customers, vendors and partners’ channels (+247% from them and +284% to them); supply chains (+146%); denial of service (+144%); apps (+85%) and embedded systems (84%).

With the digital backlash coming from technology growing faster than our ability to secure it, the chances of a major cyberattack, which racks up over $1 million in losses, are much greater. Enterprises with stronger cybersecurity measures in place can expect to weather a 17 percent chance of such an attack; whereas less sophisticated systems face a 27 percent chance.

A new piece of malware is released every day within 4.2 seconds. One of the problems that CISOs face is how to combat the sheer volume of malware bombarding us.” Vali Ali,VP, Fellow, and Chief Technologist –Security and Privacy for Personal Systems, HP

2. Watch the Insiders: It’s the internal threats that are most insidious. External issues like unsophisticated hackers, cyber criminals and social engineers do pose problems for firms. However, 90 percent of firms believe that untrained general (meaning non-IT) staff are their biggest liabilities. More than 50 percent think that partner and vendor data sharing will be their biggest vulnerability. Onboarding of new technology and shadow IT projects are also attractive hacker entry points and ripe for insider mistakes. Meanwhile, lack of training is rampant. Less than 20 percent of global companies have adequately prepared their staff and partners for these inevitabilities.

3. Consider Boosting Your Cybersecurity Budgets: Fortunately, many firms are anticipating these risks and planning accordingly. The largest increase is by platform companies (58% greater than last year), followed by energy/utility companies (20% greater), technology (15% greater) and consumer markets (14% greater). Across industries,cybersecurity budgets grew 7 percent over the past year and are on track to increase by 13 percent next year.

4. Compare Budgets by Location and Size: Companies in China, Singapore, Argentina, the US and Canada are planning to exceed the average rate of a 13 percent increase. Companies under $5 billion in revenue will increase cybersecurity spending at almost triple the average. Companies with less than $1 billion in revenue plan to bump budgets by 33 percent and those with $1-5 billion by 30 percent.

5. Prepare to Fund More Cybersecurity Strategies: In the next two years, firms will depend more on behavioral analytics (18x more), smart grid technologies (9x more), deception technology (7x more) and hardware security and resilience (more than 2x more). Currently, 90 percent of global firms use multi-factor authentication, 68 percent employ block chain, 62 percent rely on the IoT and 44 percent deploy AI.

6. Shift Your Focus from Prevention to Resilience. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides an important guide to achieving cybersecurity through these five steps:
1.   Identify
2.   Protect
3.   Detect
4.   Respond
5.   Recover

In this study, companies emphasized “protect” and “detect” at 27 percent and 24 percent respectively. Next year, these firms expect to move some of the budget from “protect” to “respond”and “recover.”

7. Evolve Your Security Roles: Enterprises entrust cybersecurity to those with higher leadership roles as the stakes get higher. Companies that are considered cybersecurity leaders are far more likely to have a CISO handle cybersecurity than companies considered cybersecurity beginners. For beginners and companies with under $1 billion in revenue, a Board tends to oversee cybersecurity initiatives.

Surviving a Cybersecurity Catastrophe
To address these pressing issues, there are several key actions you can take now. Most importantly, you can make cybersecurity a priority in your plans and budgets. It’s wise to integrate cybersecurity into every stage of your digital growth plan and continually track its ROI (both directly and indirectly) to address the effects of digital backlash. All teams that handle innovation should be included to avoid creating stale silos that don’t share important information. Make sure that you all stay on top of these trends as the year unfolds.

For more ideas on surviving the Apocalypse, see our recent blog post.

IST designs, implements and supports sound cybersecurity strategies at the top levels of government and for companies at every stage in their security development. You can trust us to help you stay ahead of the cybersecurity curve. Read more here.

7 Ways to Advocate for Increased Cybersecurity at Your Workplace

Did you know that cyber attacks are now the third biggest threat to humanity after natural disasters and extreme weather? The stakes are high, especially at your business. Cyber threats abound, and while most companies intuitively sense that they need to tighten security measures, many have tightened their belts against these expenses when more palpable operational priorities take precedence.

This is a big mistake. The National Cyber Security Alliance tells us that 60% of small- and medium-sized businesses that suffer a cyber attack go out of business within six months of the event. Larger companies may not succumb as easily, but they endure tainted reputations as well as stiff penalties and fines.

The 2018 Global Information Security Survey shows that 89% of companies worldwide believe that their “cybersecurity function does not fully meet their organization’s needs.”

If you’d like your company to strengthen their cybersecurity efforts by partnering with experts in this field or purchasing hardware or software to counteract threats, here are seven effective ways to present your case for increased cybersecurity in the workplace:

1. Start with Statistics: It’s hard to argue with facts. Cybersecurity statistics are especially convincing. Ponemon’s report on “The True Cost of Ransomware” shows that employees unable to work are the biggest financial drains incurred from a data breach. Compromised networks and non-working computers force employees to be idle for long periods of time. While the attack might cost $5 million to fix, this includes $1.25 million (25%) in system downtime and $1.5 million (30%) in IT and end user productivity loss.

2. Know your Audience: If you’re addressing the C-suite, Board of Directors or colleagues in other executive positions, make your points vis-à-vis the company’s financial health. At these levels, bottom lines and business-building functions take top priority. Since cyber threats pose serious risks to both, you’ll want to make that important point. Consider your language here, too. If you avoid technical jargon like “incidents detected” and substitute “anticipated savings” and “prevented monetary loss” instead, you’ll be speaking their language.

3. Clarify Costs and Benefits: Leverage a cost-benefit analysis to sell the proposed benefits of the cybersecurity measures that you’re recommending. While your expertise may be within IT, your colleagues may be focused elsewhere. It’s your responsibility to educate them on the potential costs and benefits of a cybersecurity upgrade. Can you make the case for 30% increased resiliency? You can use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to help determine your specific goal.

4. Cover Compliance: If your industry must adhere to certain rules of compliance, proving that these new cybersecurity measures will ensure compliance goes a long way towards getting buy-in. Regulations like HIPAA, HITECH and others can cause serious issues if not addressed properly by your business.

5. Provide a Cybersecurity Snapshot: By assessing your current cybersecurity measures and providing penetration and breach opportunity statistics, you’ll reveal the vulnerabilities that can be exploited at any moment. Prioritize these risks by order of importance and present workable cybersecurity solutions to address and overcome them.

6. Tap a Third-Party Opinion: If you’re having trouble making your case for a cybersecurity upgrade, it can be helpful to have a third party weigh in with an audit or other non-partial analysis. You can deploy a security consultant, and the ROI will more than justify the effort since these reports generally carry more weight in the recipients’ eyes.
7. Leverage a Leave Behind: Create a report in layman’s terms that can be easily shared to eliminate any potential confusion as your pitch makes it through the ranks. You may not be at the next crucial meeting, so you’ll need this document to persuade for you.

You already know how critical strong cybersecurity in the workplace is. If you need additional resources to help your company get on board for increasing safety and security in the workplace, we’re here to help.

Are there Holes in Healthcare Cybersecurity?

Are there Holes in Healthcare Cybersecurity?

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

What draws ten times more money on the black market than personal information stolen from credit cards? Healthcare records. It’s no surprise then that 41% of cybersecurity breaches were targeted towards the healthcare industry last year. Broken down, the data shows that healthcare organizations suffered a disproportionate 32,000 attacks per day per organization. This is compared to 14,300 per day per organization sustained by other industries, and makes healthcare the most vulnerable industry, with five times more total breaches than other industries.

The healthcare industry is the second biggest industry in the U.S., and as its professionals try to enhance patient care and navigate changing regulatory landscapes, healthcare cybersecurity is often relegated to the back burner. What makes this situation particularly disturbing is that the healthcare industry has the most to lose from these types of attacks; in addition to the monetary losses, cyber attacks targeting medical devices can become a real matter of life and death.

This issue is further compounded by the fact that the average healthcare cybersecurity budget is only about half that of other industries, and employees may be motivated by money to share sensitive information. A recent Accenture study revealed that “18% of healthcare employees are willing to sell confidential data to unauthorized parties for as little as $500 to $1,000.”

What’s at Risk?

These attacks threaten patient’s identities and financial well-being – and they can also affect their health. In 2016, hackers targeted the large Maryland-based healthcare system, MedStar Health, with ransomware. MedStar had to shut off its email and patient record database. Even more ominous, it couldn’t provide radiation treatments to patients for several days, a potentially life threatening situation.

Criminals can access other IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) devices connected to a network, including medical lasers, X-ray and MRI machines, ventilators, pacemakers, electric wheelchairs and other critical equipment. Since these devices are comprised of various parts and software from a number of different companies that may not focus on security, they are especially at risk. Hackers can even target specific individuals, as was the case of former U.S. VP Dick Cheney, who received threats warning of an attack on his pacemaker. His doctors had to disable the device.

How Are Criminals Breaching the Networks?

Many hackers use emails to access healthcare networks:

  • Ransomware is delivered through emails, accesses other computers through the network and blocks access to data until the ransom is paid.
  • Malicious URLs also arrive through email and look as if they were sent by reputable companies. They either download malware or gather sensitive information when selected.
  • Malicious attachments can also come through email and look convincing. They can send malware or other macros that install viruses, record keystrokes or even provide remote access to computers and networks.
  • Business emails can be used for a type of targeted “spear-phishing” known as “whaling” to create emails that appear to have come from within the organization or another trusted sender. Hackers will send an email to someone with access to money or sensitive information posing as their boss or a higher-level colleague. They’ll prep with a personal email first (with information gleaned online) and then request an action with a sense of immediacy.
  • An internal threat can be intentionally malicious or just imprudent. An employee bent on doing wrong can wreak havoc by hacking into the network. Or, an innocent insider may mistakenly send sensitive information to the wrong person, fail to encrypt it, neglect to properly log out of an accessible computer or even browse an unprotected website.
  • According to the Sixth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy & Security of Healthcare Data, Ponemon Institute conducted in May 2016, 90% of healthcare organizations weathered a data breach in 2016 and only 50% were from a coordinated attack, so it can be safely surmised that many came from careless mistakes.

Smart Healthcare Cybersecurity Solutions

To counteract these threats, those in the healthcare industry can take several steps. By viewing every identity as they would a physical security perimeter, they can focus on validating every access request on every device, verifying the identify of every user and limiting access and privilege. On the network front, healthcare organizations must secure their networks and extend this to the cloud. Any sensitive information that is sent must also be encrypted. Additionally, organizations can implement machine learning to monitor user behavior patterns and spot anomalies that reveal hacker behavior.

Healthcare organizations must also move faster and provide more thorough software patches and updates. They can deploy threat intelligence and automation as well as offer critical cyber-awareness training to employees to help them manage email, social media and other entry points.

If you’re a healthcare professional and would like to learn about how to better secure your data, you can read more here.


6 Current Cyber Threats and How to Combat Them

6 Current Cyber Threats and How to Combat Them

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Cybersecurity continues to be a vexing concern for security professionals. As the industry focuses on cybersecurity awareness month this October, it’s an opportune time to get up to speed on the latest cyber threats as well as take measures now to combat them.

1. Cyber-Physical Security Vulnerabilities

These are some of the most critical current cyber threats, targeted towards infrastructure, power grids and transportation, including older ships, trains or planes that are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks. Whether the attacks wreak immediate destruction or try to extract ransomware for a “cure,” these threats are deadly and real.

Make sure that the critical software protecting your physical security is 100% up-to-date and monitored 24/7.

2. Big Data Breaches

Where there are large collections of people’s sensitive personal information, there will always be thieves attempting to snatch it. Data breaches have increasingly plagued companies with bigger and bigger exploits – and have exposed almost half of the U.S. population to the dangers of identity and other forms of theft. Just this week, Google+ revealed that they suffered a breach that affected approximately 500,000 users back in March. The social network is now shut down.

Companies that capture users’ web behavior may be especially at risk because these companies aren’t subject to the strict regulations that keep banks and other companies with sensitive information in line. Author of Future Crimes, Marc Goodman, says, “When one leaks, all hell will break loose.”

Avoid this issue and keep your website secure with the latest security tools and a team of experts.

3. Rampant Ransomware

Cybercriminals are more emboldened by their ransomware attacks, which are estimated to have ratcheted up about $5 billion in damages in 2017. While cities like DC and Atlanta have managed to thwart criminal efforts and get their systems up and running again without paying a ransom, many companies are forced to acquiesce to the hackers to get their valuable functionality back. Although backing information up on the cloud is a good solution, the cloud is not immune to ransomware attacks either. One of the most powerful malware strains, Petya, rocketed through people’s backups on Dropbox too.

Make sure to back up your data continuously to a safe place like an unconnected hard drive or a secure site in the cloud.

4. Cryptocurrency Pirating

Another way for hackers to gain access is through cryptojacking, or attacking hardware in order to mine cryptocurrency. Criminals create a script that resides within a vulnerable website, and unprotected computers then download the script. In addition to stealing money, criminals also steal valuable computer processing power, since the computers that house cryptocurrency are very powerful. This latest cyber threat fast approaches the popularity of ransomware, and makes hospitals, banks, airports, and other important entities vulnerable targets.

To counter this threat, invest in good anti-virus and anti-malware solutions and always keep your software up to date, as well as your browser.

5. Using AI for No Good

AI provides criminals with an effective tool to automate attacks and expand their coverage of targets. With software that easily mimics human writing, machines can continually spear phish prospective victims, directing targeted emails or alerts that trick people into downloading malware or sharing their important data. As these AI strategies become more sophisticated, they’ll also get better at tricking the “sandboxes” or security programs set up to deter them.

To protect your organization against these threats, education is key. Make sure to let all employees know what these emails look like, and always be cautious when opening an attachment from someone you don’t know.

6. Smart Phones Shipping with Issues

In recent years, hackers have started to program malware into phones before they even ship to the U.S. Since phones have become such rich repositories of our both our work and personal lives, this clever strategy capitalizes on a large amount of sensitive information. This year, the banking Trojan called Triada was embedded in dozens of low-cost Android phones.

If the malware wasn’t built in, hackers are making it easy to add to your phone. Malicious apps are everywhere. Last year, 700,000 “problematic” apps cropped up in the 3.5 million apps available through the Google Play Store. These apps could phish for information, steal information, intercept texts or even duplicate another app.

Be certain that you know what you’re downloading, and avoid buying cheaper phone models that you aren’t as familiar with.

Have You Secured Your Company Against These Threats?

Cyber threats are proliferating, but security professionals have the tools to thwart them. IST’s cybersecurity team deploys the latest solutions in this ongoing arms race against current cyber threats, both for the government and corporate sectors. Contact us here to learn more.

Last Chance to Join IST’s “Security of Security” Event

Last Chance to Join IST’s “Security of Security” Event

More than ever, there needs to be an organizational mindset that places importance on cybersecurity as much as physical security. Modern security systems are cyber-physical systems, inheriting both the power and pitfalls of the digital world.


With increased interconnectivity, there are more threat opportunities and surfaces of attack. It’s critical to comprehend all of what is necessary to defend against.


IST is always seeking out the best ways to keep your physical and cyber-world secured. That’s why we’re hosting our “Security of Security” event on May 1 (in Richmond, VA) and May 3 (in Herndon, VA).


Designed for end users, clients and customers, “Security of Security” will help you identify and mitigate risks and achieve cyber and physical security resilience. You will hear presentations from IST’s best-of-breed technology partners and industry experts, from Genetec and Bosch.



May 1, 2018 – Richmond, VA, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Lunch will be provided)

May 3, 2018 – Herndon, VA, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Lunch will be provided)



Customers, clients and end users who are:

  • Interested in next-generation security requirements and controls
  • Embarking on an upgrade or implementation of a security platform
  • Seeking solutions to support immediate requirements and evolve in the future


Get the knowledge you need to strengthen physical systems and add cyber safeguards. Reserve your spot for this complimentary event today!