• Daniel McDermott

    Dan is a 20 year veteran of the ICT industry working for global and local vendors in bringing new and innovative technologies to market in the ANZ region. During his career, Dan has been passionate about bringing a local voice and insights to global technology challenges. As the Editor of GetCyberResilient.com Dan casts a keen eye across the hot topics, trends and pulse of local security practitioners to curate stories from near and far that are most impactful in addressing our evolving risks.

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Daniel McDermott

Australia’s aged care and healthcare sectors need urgent cyber-care

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The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is raising the alarm on a wave of malicious cyber activity that is specifically targeting aged care and healthcare sectors. Our healthcare sector has suffered breaches before, like the attack on Victorian healthcare organisations last year, but we’re seeing an ongoing increase in risk for this particular sector.

Healthcare organisations hold tons of sensitive personal and medical information critical to operations and patient care. Hackers know how valuable this kind of data is on the black market, and are also aware that many organisations would be more than willing to pay big ransoms to get their data back.

This is bad news not just for health organisations, but for everyone who depends on them. Even a small cyber attack on a healthcare facility can have a major effect on the community it serves.

Ransomware seems to be the preferred weapon of choice for hackers. The ‘Maze’ ransomware, for example, is designed to lock or encrypt an organisation’s data to make it unusable. Cybercriminals may then threaten to post the data online unless a ransom is paid. Since aged care facilities and healthcare organisations usually have limited IT capabilities, they are especially vulnerable to these kinds of attacks.

An audit by the office of the Auditor-General found patient data stored in Victoria's public health system was at high risk, and many health agencies had low visibility into their own security gaps.

Recommendations
The report highlighted how cyber awareness training can be a powerful tool to build up your defences. Focusing on the key areas below can be a powerful way to improve your cybersecurity posture at a surprisingly low cost. 

 

Make sure only the right people can access your data

  • Promptly disable unused and terminated employee accounts
  • Keep user access forms as proof that users have had their access approved
  • Conduct formal, regular user access reviews to ensure that only authorised staff have access

 

Back up your critical systems and data
Backing up and restoring your files makes it faster and easier to get up and running again if your organisation experiences a disruption or ransomware attack. Make sure all critical data is archived and backed up regularly.


Never pay a ransom demand
In case of a ransomware attack, there is no guarantee paying the ransom will fix your devices. In fact, it could expose you and your organisation to further attacks. Restore your files from a backup and seek technical advice. Make sure to follow the ACSC’s advice on mitigating the threat of ransomware.
 

Patch and update your software regularly
All personal or business devices including phones, tablets, computers or laptops run on software that needs to be updated regularly. In many cases, these updates are automatic, but updates might not be enabled on all devices. Make sure all the devices you depend on stay updated at all times.
 

Use antivirus and anti-malware tools
Install antivirus software on all devices and make sure to set the software to automatically check for updates on a daily basis. There are many low-cost tools available that do a great job of protecting your systems from the most common cyber threats your organisation is likely to experience. 


Get regular cyber awareness training
Make sure all staff participate in regular cyber and data security training. Human error is the single biggest cyber risk and making sure that everyone in your organisation practices good cyber hygiene is essential. This simple behavioural change can arguably be the most effective cybersecurity measure you can take. 

Editor, Get Cyber Resilient

Dan is a 20 year veteran of the ICT industry working for global and local vendors in bringing new and innovative technologies to market in the ANZ region. During his career, Dan has been passionate about bringing a local voice and insights to global technology challenges. As the Editor of GetCyberResilient.com Dan casts a keen eye across the hot topics, trends and pulse of local security practitioners to curate stories from near and far that are most impactful in addressing our evolving risks.

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Daniel McDermott