Healthcare sees 211% increase in security incidents in 2017, McAfee says

McAfee experts say both healthcare organisations and software developers have to be ‘more vigilant in ensuring they are up to date on security best practices’ after they find a surge in reported incidents for 2017.

[London, UK] Health and care saw a 211% increase in reported security incidents during 2017, according to the newest McAfee Labs Threats report.

McAfee experts found health and care organisations’ failure to comply with best practice and address known vulnerabilities in medical software were the most common causes of many of these incidents.

“Our research uncovered classic software failures and security issues such as hardcoded embedded passwords, remote code execution, unsigned firmware, and more,” said Christiaan Beek, Lead Scientist and Senior Principal Engineer at McAfee.

Beek said both organisations and developers have to be ‘more vigilant in ensuring they are up to date on security best practices’.

However, the report also reveals that the number of security incidents seemed to have dropped by 80% in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) released earlier this year indicated that reports of health data breaches increased by 22% in the UK in the third quarter of 2017.

Hospitals warned to prepare for Russian cyber threats  

Last week, The Times reported that NHS hospitals were warned by officials from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) that they should prepare for a ‘state-sponsored’ cyber attack ordered by Russia.

The warnings come after the Salisbury attack, in which ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the nerve agent was developed by Russia, which denies any involvement in the attack.

The NCSC told The Times that it is ‘absolutely right’ they provide advice to sectors on the risk of cyber attacks, regardless of where they might come from.

Correction: March 30, 2018

An earlier version of this article misstated the percentage increase in healthcare security incidents. 

Related content:

Reports of health data breaches increase by 22% in Q3 of 2017, ICO figures show

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