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by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THERE is a critical need to strengthen South Africa’s healthcare cyber security amid rising global threats, digitisation and the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme implementation.

This is the view of Check Point Software Technologies, the Artificial Intelligence-powered, cloud-delivered cyber security platform provider.

“No matter the direction the country’s healthcare policies are taken, the reliance on digitisation and technology will be vital in the roll out of universal healthcare services, making cyber security readiness a top priority,” said Check Point’s Workspace Solutions Architect, Shayimamba Conco.

Recent breaches, such as that of Discovery Insure and Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS), and now the National Health Laboratory Services (NHL), highlight the critical need for robust cyber security measures in the healthcare sector.

Ransomware group, BlackSuit, claimed responsibility for the ransomware attack on the NHL, which forced the government institution to shut down its IT systems for two days in June.

BlackSuit says it stole 1,2 TB of data during the attack, including business contracts, contacts and employee, product, financial and medical data.

Globally, healthcare institutions have become prime targets for cyber criminals due to the high value of medical records and personal data.

In the United Kingdom (UK), hospitals are currently canceling operations and blood transfusions after a recent cyber-attack caused the National Health Service to declare a ‘critical incident’.

In Dumfries Scotland, ransomware gangs are threatening to publish personal medical records after a recent ransomware attack on the town’s health services.

In South Africa, the healthcare sector faces a similar threat landscape.

The advancement of ransomware has seen a significant increase in attacks that exploit zero-day vulnerabilities. The year 2023 alone saw a 90 percent increase in ransomware incidents compared to the previous year.

“Ransomware attacks are especially damaging and can cripple the ability to perform hospital operations, delaying treatments and procedures, and potentially risking patient lives,” Conco warned.

Compromised patient data can lead to breaches of privacy and security, with long-term consequences for affected individuals. This can include identity theft and other forms of exploitation.

“Beyond the ransom itself, the costs associated with recovery, system upgrades, legal fees, and potential fines can be substantial,” said Conco.

According to Check Point, an organisation in South Africa is being attacked on average 1 274 times per week in the last six months.

The top malware is FakeUpdates.

Some 57 percent of the malicious files were delivered via Web in the last 30 days.

The most common vulnerability exploit type is Information Disclosure, impacting 75 percent of targeted organisations.  

– CAJ News

Source of original article: Technology – CAJ News Africa (www.cajnewsafrica.com).
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