February 14, 2017
New technologies are making cybersecurity a top priority in healthcare
By: Jim Traficant


I’ve worked in the intelligence community and the healthcare industry. The parallels are remarkable.

In intelligence, mission analysts collect information from a variety of sources and apply judgment within a critical timeframe and often with lives at stake. Clinicians do the same thing.  They aggregate information from a variety of sources and apply judgment within constrained timeframes, also with lives at stake.

In both scenarios, information integrity and security is critical to making good decisions and achieving the best possible outcomes. Trust is the oil of healthcare, and from a technology standpoint, cybersecurity is key to preserving it. Cyber is foundational to protecting patients’ privacy, as well as the networked devices critical to patient care and the brands of institutions that deliver care. As the health industry becomes digitally enabled, cyber has moved to the top of the priority list for CIOs.

Health tracking wearables, medical devices and the Internet of Things have opened a new world of smarter, better health management and care delivery. However, these net-enabled technologies introduce unique vulnerabilities. I recently talked to Gus Hunt, AFS Cybersecurity Lead and former CIA Chief Technical Officer, about the cyber threat landscape and what it means to the healthcare industry.

In the video above, Gus spoke with me about three major considerations for cyber in healthcare:

  1. Device integrity: Connected devices such as Bluetooth pacemakers and insulin pumps can be vulnerable to directly tampering and manipulation

  2. Network integrity: Connected devices rely on networks to function—networks that can be subject to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

  3. Data integrity: Digital patient data, when used to its full potential, can significantly improve health outcomes—but its accuracy must be protected from manipulation

Cybersecurity is a necessity—but must be part of a holistic, integrated framework that includes networks, cloud, analytics and connected devices. Ultimately, all these moving parts enable improved care and lower costs—but only if they’re secure.

Read more about Gus Hunt, his background and his vision as Accenture Federal Cybersecurity Practice Lead in his recent Q&A.

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