The health care industry is one of the most targeted sectors of the U.S. economy as hospitals, insurance providers and other organizations contain valuable personal and financial information. With access to the protected health information of patients, thieves could commit medical identity theft, endangering the lives of their victims. However, these health care systems and devices are repeatedly being infiltrated, which include their computers and software, . Some organizations that have been compromised in the past are still vulnerable to inadvertently exposing sensitive information, .

"The sheer volume of IPs detected in this targeted sample can be extrapolated to assume that there are, in fact, millions of compromised health care organizations, applications, devices and systems sending malicious packets from around the globe," the report said.

The SANS-Norse Healthcare Cyberthreat Report revealed 72 percent of health care providers had malicious IP traffic coming from systems that may have had security breaches. While the vast majority of malicious traffic from the health care industry came from providers, business associates in the health care field exhibited almost 10 percent of traffic. Organizations that were hit by data breaches noted that they were not able to determine the systems that were compromised or had malicious IP traffic coming from them.

Compliance a Major Issue for Health Care Organizations
Both large and small health care providers reportedly had confidential data breaches, which indicates cybercriminals do not discriminate against potential victims in their attack campaigns based on their size.

"Personal health care information (PHI) and organization intellectual property, as well as medical billing and payment organizations, are all increasingly at risk of data theft and fraud because of these attacks and breaches," the report said. "Poorly protected medical endpoints, including personal health devices, become gateways, exposing consumers' personal computers and information to prowling cybercriminals."

Compliance with federal privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, continues to be an ongoing problem in protecting patient information. Besides fines from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, health care providers should be concerned about maintaining the security of connected medical endpoints, including software and video systems.

The report found 7 percent of malicious traffic originated from radiology imaging software while 7 percent came from video conferencing software. Health systems should also make their security systems and other Internet connected monitoring systems are not transmitting malicious traffic as the report indicated 16 percent of malicious traffic actually came from firewalls.

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