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Legacy applications a ‘healthcare cybersecurity nightmare’

13 Feb 2019

A new whitepaper launched today that sought to bring light to just how dire the cybersecurity situation with hospitals really is.

The report - ‘Legacy Applications: A Healthcare Cybersecurity Nightmare’ - was co-authored by clinical and cybersecurity consultancy, AbedGraham, and healthcare data management specialists, BridgeHead Software.

Delving into the far-reaching implications that vulnerable legacy applications have for healthcare organisations regarding cyberattacks, the report looks at examples like the devastating effect of 2017’s Wannacry attacks and the increase of cybercrime specifically targeted at the healthcare industry to gain an idea of the clinical, operational, financial, and governance risks posed by providers that continue to run and maintain legacy systems.

“Healthcare is the new frontier of cybercrime and cyberwarfare,” says medical doctor, healthcare cyber warfare expert, and co-author of the whitepaper Dr Saif Abed.

“Attackers are looking for any way they can to compromise systems and networks at scale even if that means threatening patient care. Legacy applications, in particular, are often riddled with vulnerabilities ready to be exploited by everyone from petty opportunists to major organised crime.”

There is clearly concern in the industry too, as in its 2019 Top of Mind survey, The Center for Connected Medicine polled IT executives across 38 health systems, concluding that cybersecurity continues to be the biggest concern across the industry.

BridgeHead Software chief technology officer and co-author of the whitepaper Gareth Griffiths says the recognition is there, but now healthcare providers need to take action.

“As we saw from the Wannacry outbreak, cyberattacks can have devastating effects for providers. It’s not just limited to the challenges associated with quickly and efficiently recovering systems and data, which is a given; it’s the disruption to hospital operations and critical patient services that create a domino effect,” says Griffiths.

“From discharge and referral delays, cancellation of elective surgical procedures, the redistribution and transfer of patients to alternative providers, the list goes on. These effects can have a direct bearing on a hospital’s finances, regulatory compliance, legal position, and reputation. So, why not eliminate or, at the very least, mitigate these risks by reducing the threat – decommission legacy applications and remove the security loopholes that cyber-criminals are increasingly drawn to.”

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