Google steps up cybersecurity efforts in healthcare

In response to the rise in cyberattacks targeting U.S. healthcare systems, Google has engaged in a partnership with the White House to help rural hospitals. 

“The rise in healthcare-related cyberattacks is alarming because there is a human cost involved when the ability of hospital systems to provide care is severely disrupted," Taylor Lehmann, director of the office of the chief information security officer at Google Cloud, told Becker's in an emailed statement. "We have seen hospital systems and physician groups go out of business, face bankruptcy and take months to recover from such damaging attacks. By partnering with the White House and the healthcare sector, we are focused on helping reverse this trend and building safer and more resilient critical infrastructure systems." 

As part of the partnership, the tech giant will work to address security weaknesses in healthcare systems by transitioning underserved critical infrastructure organizations to a more modern computing approach. 

"Google will provide endpoint security advice to rural hospitals and nonprofit organizations at no cost and a pool of funding to support software migration," Mr. Lehmann said. "In addition, Google is committing to launch a pilot program with 4-5 rural hospitals to develop a packaging of security capabilities that fit their unique needs."

Google's commitment to healthcare cybersecurity extends beyond this new partnership. The tech giant has ongoing projects and collaborations, including its work with the Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Health-ISAC). According to Mr. Lehmann, Google is in its third year of this five-year commitment, which involves financial resources tools such as VirusTotal, and advisory services and training for more than 900 members globally. 

Furthermore, Google is participating in a working group focused on enhancing the stability of rural, small and underserved health systems, Mr. Lehmann said. He also highlighted a pilot project using Google Maps and related technologies to create a comprehensive view of at-risk health systems.

"The goal of these efforts is to enable proactive identification of communities where disruption in the local health system could have life threatening consequences if any entity were to go on diversion (as has been the case with recent ransomware attacks on hospitals)," Mr. Lehmann said. "The Resilience Mapping project will then be used to feed programs we run with the HSCC, Health ISAC, clinics and other investments in stabilizing our health systems globally."

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