Can data save health IT security?

Lloyd McCoy Jr.By Lloyd McCoy, DOD manager

The military’s next battlefield could be moving to a hospital bed.

With the growth of new technologies like the internet of things in health care, the security of health IT systems is becoming more at risk. Another challenge is that medical devices are already several years old by the time they’re in active use in the Military Health System.

So could better use of data and analytics help make these systems more secure?

The military health system has a wealth of data and health IT professionals need to harness it to create business and medical intelligence. We don’t need systems to tell us what already happened, but to predict how to best use and position our medical resources to cater to service members and their families.

Data analytics is an important tool for looking at the overall IT ecosystem and across devices. IT professionals can see which devices are up to date, which may not have been patched in a while and which may be at the end of their useful life.

Along these same lines, the Department of Defense health community needs to leverage predictive analytics to protect against cyber threats such as ransomware. There is a rapidly growing list of examples of ransomware targeting the health industry. Predictive analytics can look for deviations from how the network should behave, rather than relying on known signatures (which is not wholly effective when threats are continually evolving).

By marrying data analytics with security, this mass of information should be able to provide possible lines of defense in the fight against cybersecurity intrusion. That’s the next generation of security. Monitoring and other security tools will become predictive rather than static – sharing insights that might otherwise have been missed, or to react faster to potential threats than a human may have been able to react previously.

It’s critical to secure medical devices, especially as they communicate and function with other devices and IT networks. Because medical devices are increasingly becoming IT devices, they are the best way to underscore the importance of securing IoT devices in a network. It’s not just information, but the very loss of life and limb that’s at stake.

To learn more about cybersecurity trends in the government, sign up for immixGroup’s 4th Annual Government IT Sales Summit on Nov. 16.

This blog post originally appeared on IDG’s Government InfoSec blog.

About Lloyd McCoy Jr.
Lloyd McCoy is the Department of Defense Consultant on the Market Intelligence team. Prior to working for immixGroup, he worked in the public sector as a senior analyst with the Defense Department. Lloyd primarily monitors and analyzes issues relating to the Navy/Marine Corps, Defense Health Agency, and the Defense Information Systems Agency

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