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Health IT Infrastructure to Combat Growing Ransomware Threats

As the healthcare is named the top ransomware targeted industry, organizations must consider secure email and threat intelligence infrastructure security solutions.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

Healthcare organizations are set to adopt anti-ransomware software and services as the threat of ransomware continues to be a top health IT security threat.

Ransomware continues to threaten health IT infrastructure

The latest Markets and Markets research predicts that the ransomware protection market will grow to reach $17.36 billion by 2021 across all major industries. Ransomware installs on a victim's computer and holds secure data hostage by locking out legitimate users until a ransom is paid.

The report suggests that the healthcare vertical will experience the most ransomware attacks over the next four years. The push for rapid digitization of medical records makes healthcare organizations more vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

Anti-ransomware infrastructure security solutions include secure web gateways, application control, and threat intelligence. The report predicts that threat intelligence is expected to see the most growth in the ransomware protection market.

“Organizations are increasingly adopting threat intelligence solutions to combat ransomware and other advanced cyber threats, as these solutions provide effective and reliable threat detection to alleviate cyber threats based on security events and security intelligence feeds to manage business risks,” report authors found.

Last November, a Ponemon survey addressed threat intelligence solutions and found that many organizations considered threat intelligence tools to be too complicated to provide valuable insight.

Many organizations were lacking the knowledge and IT staff to manage a threat intelligence platform, do not have the budget to deploy a solution of that scale, or did not have the IT infrastructure needed for a successful threat intelligence deployment.

“Every industry knows that threat intelligence is a key component of any effective defense strategy and, as this survey points out, it has become too overwhelming to deal with," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of the Ponemon Institute. "Security providers do a great job of gathering and storing data. Now, they need to simplify it and make it actionable so that security teams and top executives can make decisions that protect their businesses from surging attacks."

The Ponemon survey highlighted the importance of threat intelligence solutions, indicating that too much data delivered incorrectly can potentially be worse than not enough threat data by overwhelming the health IT security infrastructure.

"The number of threat indicators is skyrocketing and organizations simply cannot cope with the volume of threat intelligence data coming their way,” said Hugh Njemanze, CEO of Anomali about the Ponemon survey. “It's clear that what businesses need is a system that pinpoints the threats they must take notice of and that gives them actionable and relevant insights."

The Markets and Markets report also predicts that email protection is expected to gain high traction in the ransomware protection market. Emails are the primary way ransomware is distributed through a health IT network and cybercriminals target users by emailing them malicious attachments.

Due to the rise of business email compromise (BEC) scams, report authors indicate that network and email protection are the top ransomware security solutions set for growth next to threat intelligence.

HIPAA-compliant secure email and messaging have been a concern for healthcare organization as digital messaging has become a main option for communication among clinicians and staff.

An Infinite Convergence Solutions survey conducted last year indicated that end-users prefer to use email and messaging services and often resort to solutions that are not HIPAA-compliant. Organizations that do not comply with employee requests for secure messaging solutions may find themselves facing end users utilizing non-compliant, shadow IT messaging tools such as GChat or WhatsApp because they find them convenient.

Messaging solutions that are not secure or HIPAA-compliant are vulnerable to ransomware because they are not equipped to detect BEC scams, leaving users exposed to malicious links potentially containing ransomware.

As healthcare organizations continue to move more party of their IT infrastructure to digital environments, ransomware will continue to be a threat. Organizations need to consider their IT infrastructure and update their security solutions accordingly to combat against ransomware

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