Cyber security experts have warned that hackers have targeted healthcare sector, which is ‘lucrative and vulnerable’.

Finding weak links across computer networks and outdated and unpatched software, hackers are stealing data and selling them on the dark web (underground internet world) for the price of a cup of coffee.  Serious cyber criminals can cause worse damage, experts say.

Besides causing huge financial losses, cyber security threats could impact the lives of patients in hospitals. “Data is sick. Cyber security threats have emerged as a disease for the health sector,” said Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director of cyber security security firm Kaspersky’s Asia-Pacific Region.

He was addressing journalists on the cyber security threats being faced by the healthcare sector. “As rapid digitalisation penetrates the sector, cyber criminals are seeing more opportunities to attack this lucrative industry, which is not equipped enough to face this virtual danger,” he said.

“One single cyber attack could leave a healthcare organisation in losses of up to $23.3 million,” he said, quoting a report.

Reports of hackers breaking into the hospital systems show that the attacks can leave the hospitals in enormous losses. The Wannacry ransomware, which wreaked havoc globally, adversely impacted medical establishments as well.

The healthcare sector is yet to diagnose the “plague that has been causing damage to the industry and potentially affecting human health,” said Vitaly Kamluk, Head of Kaspersky’s GReAT (Global Research and Analysis Team) team for the APAC region.

He likened the fall-out of cyber security attacks to that of nuclear accidents — very hard to see the losses with the naked eye. “In cyber space most of us are deaf-blind, because of invisible nature of the threats,” he said.

How to tackle

Stephan said that training the human resources in basics of cyber security is very important to keep tabs on the cyber criminals. “Prevention is very important. You need to build better systems, secure infrastructure and install privacy protocols,” he said.

“The hospitals should also pay close attention to the security preparedness of the third party players that they depend on for various services,” he said.


The reporter is in Yangon at the invitation of Kaspersky