Cyberthreats plaguing healthcare sector in Asia Pacific, says Kaspersky

Security firm Kaspersky has tagged the escalating number of cyberthreats as the modern plague haunting the healthcare sector.

Stephan Neumeier, managing director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky

The company made the assertion during its 5th CyberSecurity Weekend conference in Yangon, Myanmar, which had the theme “Cybersecurity: Healing the Healthcare Sector.” The annual event was attended by the Kaspersky’s elite researchers, key executives, as well as journalists from 12 Asia Pacific countries.

“Data is sick. Confidential medical records being breached, advanced devices turning a human into a bionic man, these ideas have since crossed the bridge between fictional stories and our physical world. They are well within our reality, in Asia Pacific and globally. As rapid digitalization penetrates the healthcare sector, cybercriminals are seeing more opportunities to attack this lucrative and critical industry, which is honestly not equipped enough to face this virtual danger,” said Stephan Neumeier, managing director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky.

Attacks against hospitals and pharmaceuticals have been happening worldwide, especially in the more advanced countries in the west. The recent years, however, have seen the threat creeping towards Asia Pacific. Reports have even projected that the medical industry in the region can incur economic losses of up to $23.3 million from cybersecurity incidents.

Singapore, the highly-connected and considered as the technology and business hub of Asia, has suffered four data breaches concerning healthcare organizations in just 12 months. One incident even involved health records of the country’s prime minister. The infamous Wannacry ransomware has also crippled several medical establishments in the region, particularly in China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.

To further reveal the latest threat statistics against the healthcare sector, key cybersecurity experts from Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) unmasked new campaigns creeping towards medical facilities and organizations in Asia Pacific and beyond.

Leading the team of researchers is Vitaly Kamluk, head of GReAT APAC at Kaspersky, who zeroed in on the readiness of the industry in tackling cyberthreats and its cybersecurity.

“Nuclear fallouts like the one happened after Chernobyl disaster and cyberthreats have something in common. A naked eye cannot see how the radiation from the decades-long incident has been affecting human health until present times. Likewise, the healthcare sector has yet to clearly diagnose the plague that has been causing damage to the industry and potentially affecting human health,” explained Kamluk.

“Helen Keller once said that the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. While being deaf-blind person, she worked very hard and reached unbelievable heights. In cyberspace most of us are deaf-blind, because of invisible nature of the threats. But the question is: Are we working hard enough to be able to envision how those threats can affect our health and our lives?”

Together with Kamluk and the team of experts from Kaspersky, Denis Makrushin, head of application security at Ingram Micro, also unveiled important global numbers in relation to the state of cyberthreats against the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

“Given that healthcare is a very critical sector, where a matter of second dictates the difference between life and death, it is not surprising that it evolves quicker compared with other industries. It is filled with advanced research and development because it is always under an emergency alert to cure and save human life,” said Neumeier.

“However, are these technological progress at par with its complex cybersecurity requirements? This is the question we wanted to answer in this event. Because the industry may not be as targeted like banks, but perhaps it may be soon be the apple of the eye for cybercriminals. Not today, but given the pattern of attacks we’re seeing, it will soon be.”

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