Protecting the Healthcare Sector from
Supply Chain Security Attacks

By: Dennis Mattoon

With a cyberattack occurring every 39 seconds, not only are they becoming more frequent, they are becoming more sophisticated and premeditated. Attackers have begun targeting supply chains, which is especially worrying as one attack can create a chain reaction and compromise a network of providers.

With many stages and companies involved, hackers are benefiting from the lack of sufficient security by infiltrating systems with malicious codes, compromising the code shipped into hardware components and gaining access to data. This is particularly concerning for the healthcare sector when the patient’s health depends on having secure equipment and services provided to them. To overcome these challenges on a global scale, security must be at the top of every organization's agenda to boost protection and bolster personal safety.

Supply chain security in the healthcare sector 

Cyberattacks on vulnerable supply chains are making it difficult to implement successful security practices, which poses a challenge to the healthcare sector. Modern manufacturing is a highly complex process, which requires components to comply with safety and health regulations. Owing to the magnitude of cyber threats, it is also important to check that every stage of the supply chain is cyber secure and cannot be accessed by hackers. One of the most significant issues is the ability for malware to go undetected, which can inflict damage without anyone noticing for a long time by targeting these large organizations from one single entry point. With hackers able to stay hidden, hardware, software, and IT networks risk being compromised, and this can have devastating consequences for patients in hospitals.

If hackers gained access into hospital systems, they would be able to gain access into patients’ confidential records, which they may hold hostage for financial gain, or be able to affect the sensors within vital machinery, leading to life-threatening risks. In the US, there have been several cases in which attackers have caused significant disruptions to operations, leading to a delay in chemotherapy treatments. In 2019, a newborn suffered fatal brain damage due to a heart monitor failure as a result of a ransomware attack, while ambulances in San Diego were diverted away from emergency rooms because of frozen computer systems. As recently as October 2022, the digital tools used by medical professionals at Des Moines Hospital to accurately prescribe doses of medicine were corrupted as a result of a cyberattack, leading to a three-year-old child receiving five times the required amount. When putting together medical equipment within the supply chain, it is important to check that it meets the safety regulations, but as mentioned earlier, it is also essential to check it hasn’t been tampered with or hacked into, or this can lead to significant consequences for any patients found at the end of the chain.

One of the reasons that supply chain hacks have become more common is the increased digitization brought by the pandemic, with more providers switching to telehealth to connect with patients. Telehealth leverages digital communication technologies to allow patients and other users to remotely access any relevant medical services to help manage their health care. Devices such as tablets and smartphones are commonly used to access these services, while nurses or other healthcare professionals can provide these services from a medical office or mobile van if the patient resides in a rural area. doesn’t even factor

This can affect the supply chain because if hackers can access any device used for communication between the patient and the healthcare professional, they can quickly gain access to any personal, sensitive data. This can cause significant financial damage to any hospital or clinic that falls victim to an attack. In 2016, a successful ransomware attack led the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center to pay $17,000


Latest Updates

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel