Post WannaCry, Healthcare Orgs Say They Have Their Cybersecurity Groove Back

A new study has found that two years after WannaCry flayed the systems of companies around the world, most healthcare providers believe that they’ve gotten their groove back.

The report, which comes two years out from the WannaCry attack of 2017, was conducted by security vendor Infoblox. Infoblox reached 606 health IT pros in the UK, US, Germany and the Benelux Union in an effort to get a sense of their readiness to tackle cybersecurity threats.

According to the researchers, 92% of health IT pros responding to the survey said they were confident that their organization was prepared to respond to a cyber-attack, up from 82% two years previously. Fifty-six percent of these organizations leverage automated systems that scan networks actively for suspect activity (56%), and 31% have their own Security Operations Centers in place.

Meanwhile, the volume of healthcare organizations spending between 11% and 20% more on cybersecurity than in 2017, with investments led by anti-virus software (59%), firewalls (52%) and application security (51%).

Given that we’re musing about WannaCry, it’s worth asking what organizations doing to fend off ransomware specifically.  One battlefront is employee education investments, which have grown in popularity since 2017, having climbed 10%. The Infoblox researchers attribute this growth in training spend as an attempt to improve email hygiene and thereby ward off phishing attacks that may deliver ransomware.

As for what to do if they face a ransomware breach, there’s some disagreement. Roughly 40% of respondents didn’t know whether their organization would pay a ransom to cyberattackers, while another 24% said they wouldn’t be willing to do so.  In other words, while health IT departments have responded to ransomware threats, the larger organizations may still be grappling with what policies to set on an administrative level.

Health IT respondents seem a lot clearer as to how they want to handle cybersecurity exposure created by connected devices. While the number of devices connected to IT networks remained flat over the past two years, the volume of security policies in place for new connected devices grew from 85% to 89% of respondents.

While the number of health IT pros who doubted the effectiveness of their connected device security policies fell from 13% to 9% this year, their confidence might be misplaced. The research found that 16.6% of respondents said they didn’t have the ability to patch the operating systems running their connected devices. This is particularly concerning given that more than 25% of these devices run older operating systems such as Windows 7 (26.5%) and Windows 8 (4.6%).

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

3 Comments

  • Fascinating data. I guess I’d just ask the question of whether healthcare organizations have confidence in their cybersecurity policies or if it’s overconfidence? Maybe I’ve just seen too many breaches to be ok with someone saying that they’re IT is secure.

  • I didn’t comment at length within the article, but my gut feeling is that they are overconfident. I think it telling that despite WannaCry being a devastating ransomware attack, survey respondents still don’t seem to be clear about how they’ll deal with future ransomware infections.

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