Home Security Security essential to help healthcare workers focus on patients, not IT, says ExtraHop

Security essential to help healthcare workers focus on patients, not IT, says ExtraHop

Australia’s healthcare system is rated as one of the best in the world, though not without its flaws. Real-time wire data security analysis vendor ExtraHop says it’s committed to helping healthcare workers remove their IT burdens.

Albert Kuo, ExtraHop vice-president Asia Pacific, says, “Public hospitals are not keeping up with the growing population, operating at capacity rather than increasing to meet the growing demand for healthcare services, and just under half of urgent Emergency Department patients are being seen within a recommended timeframe. Australia’s hospitals are under increasing pressure to perform and relieve health burdens for Australians; however, without significant change, they soon will not be able to provide adequate support.”

This is a serious issue, Kuo states. “Australians need to know they can rely on their emergency healthcare system,” he says. A call to triple-zero ought to be relied on to connect people to emergency services, MRI and X-Ray machines must be in excellent working condition, and patient records must be accessible to the properly authorised people when and as needed.

“Perhaps most importantly, Australians want to feel cybersecurity is a priority in the healthcare industry,” Kuo states.

Security firm Gemalto last year identified healthcare as the largest target for data breaches, with malicious parties knowing system outages could literally be a matter of life and death, and counting on healthcare providers to be more likely to pay ransoms. This was, sadly, visibly demonstrated with 2017’s enormous global ransomware outbreaks, affecting at least 16 hospitals in the UK alone. Some were forced to cancel patient operations, and most did indeed choose to pay the ransom.

Australia was fortunate enough to escape the brunt of the attack, but Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan admitted Australia as a nation was not fully prepared when it came to cyber security, and could be vulnerable to any targeted attacks.

The challenge for companies like ExtraHop then is how to wield technology to bolster security, and free staff to focus their attention on patient outcomes instead of fighting IT fires.

The spread of ransomware, phishing attacks and other modern exploits prove conventional firewall and virus protection systems are not enough.

“As much as we can hope, ransomware will never be eradicated, and so it seems pointless to focus solely on prevention of infection,” Kuo says.

“As technology advances to create more advanced malware, the only hope we have is to use technology to enable early detection within our systems. It’s not a matter of if a business will be hacked; it’s merely a question of when, so it’s crucial that they are prepared.”

It’s thus important that healthcare organisations have visibility and understanding of what is happening in their environment at all times, and be equipped with the insights to keep data, systems and patient data secure.

ExtraHop says real-time wire-analysis tools are the key to achieving this, delivering such insights that mean an organisation can react immediately when malicious activity occurs on the network.

Providing a real-world example Kuo states, “We recently helped Wood County Hospital detect a ransomware attempt, helping the hospital avoid potentially catastrophic consequences.”

“Despite being rated as one of the world’s best, the Australian healthcare system is under increasing pressure, but technology takes away the unnecessary and allows hospital workers to get back to what they are recognised as doing best – providing great outcomes for Australians.”



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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.