Opinion: How network surveillance can stop hospital hackers

There's no denying cyber attacks in the healthcare world are on the rise. How can hackers be stopped? Writing for CIO.com, Donald Voltz, MD, has an answer.

Due to outdated security systems, hospitals are fairly easy targets for hackers. While companies in other industries, like finance, spend as much as 30 percent of their budget on security, hospitals only spend around 2 or 3 percent, according to Dr. Voltz.

And while 45 percent of healthcare cyber attacks are initiated by external hackers, "phantom" hackers — hospital employees who are careless in using passwords or are lured in by phishing schemes — can also initiate problems.

Despite the use of firewalls and antivirus packages, research from the Ponemon Institute proves the number of attacks on healthcare organizations has increased 125 percent over the past five years.

Dr. Voltz proposes a solution: behavioral network surveillance tactics. These tactics rely on artificial intelligence and behavior analysis to prevent the misuse of login information. The tactics are deployed to create a pattern of user behavior. Behaviors that stray from the pattern — like logging in from a new location — are flagged, alerting the health system to a potential problem.

Healthcare-related organizations like Houston-based Cognetyx and Hackensack, N.J.-based Hindsait are already using similar tactics.

"The industry would do well to implement network surveillance that includes behavior analysis," Dr. Voltz concluded. "It is the single best technological defense against the misuse of medical facility systems and the most powerful weapon the healthcare industry has in its war against cybercriminals."

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