recommended reading

Health Care Sector to Test Reflexes for Cyber Attack

Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock.com

The health sector, in partnership with the federal government, will conduct simulated attacks against health care networks this spring to test their vulnerability to hackers, industry officials announced on Monday.

The simulation, scheduled for March, marks the first time insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the Health and Human Services Department will run a fire drill in concert. Health care has been named one of 17 critical infrastructure sectors that, if disrupted by a cyberattack, could have far-reaching consequences for the nation. 

HHS Chief Information Security Officer Kevin Charest said in a statement, “Our goal for the exercises is to identify additional ways that we can help the industry be better prepared for and better able to respond to cyberattacks. This exercise will generate valuable information we can use to improve our joint preparedness.”

It is unclear whether the event will test the reflexes of HealthCare.gov, the problem-plagued online health insurance exchange developed by the Obama administration under the Affordable Care Act.   

The Health Information Trust Alliance, a medical information technology advocacy group, will coordinate the event.

The medical industry already suffers from data breaches that have jeopardized patient privacy and facilitated fraud. According to a 2012 Ponemon Institute study, 94 percent of health care organizations experienced at least one data breach during the previous two years. 

The aim of this spring’s simulated hacking exercise, dubbed CyberRX, is to discover weaknesses in preparedness and spot areas where information sharing could be improved. 

HITRUST has stood up an incident response center that circulates intelligence about threats among industry specialists, as well as HHS and Homeland Security Department officials. The March drill is partly aimed at determining the efficiency of that model. 

Participants will include Children's Medical Center Dallas, CVS Caremark and Express Scripts, as well as numerous insurance providers including Health Care Service Corp., Humana, UnitedHealth Group, and WellPoint. 

A second experiment is planned for this summer. 

“As cyber threats continue to increase and the number of attacks targeted at healthcare organizations rise, industry organizations are seeking useful and actionable information with guidance that augments their existing information security programs without duplication or complication,” HITRUST Chief Executive Officer Daniel Nutkis said in a statement. “CyberRX will undoubtedly provide invaluable information that can be used by organizations to refine their information protection programs."

The healthcare industry is not the first critical infrastructure sector to check its cyber hygiene.

Last November, in California, almost 10,000 electrical engineers, cybersecurity specialists, utility executives and FBI agents spent 48 hours with a fake adversary who tried to turn out the lights across America, the New York Times reported. The previous month, the financial sector ran a simulation -- its second since 2011 -- called "Quantum Dawn 2" that showed resiliency but also areas where the industry can do better, according to USA Today. The six-hour trial run herded more than 500 people and more than 50 organizations, including Wall Street banks, stock exchanges, utilities, DHS, the FBI and the Treasury Department. 

(Image via Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Accidentally leaked credentials / Misplaced data

Boeing Employee Emails 36,000 Coworkers’ Personal Info to Spouse

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.