Cybersecurity solutions vendor Fortinet warns of the continued attack on supply chains as countries ramp up their COVID-19 vaccine rollout. In a blog post, Troy Ament, field chief information security officer at Fortinet underscored the duty of companies to secure the supply chain management.
This is on top of other shifts — telehealth, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines, among other — the healthcare sector underwent at the onset of the pandemic last year that has carried on to this year.
“Understanding why the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain is being targeted and how to protect against such attacks is vital for IT (information technology) leaders who understand that healthcare and cybersecurity must now go hand in hand,” Ament wrote. “For many organizations, this meant revamping security infrastructure to support remote users and stay one step ahead of cyber criminals and hackers who seek to target vulnerabilities in the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain.”
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Ament noted how the increase in the number of devices and networks used broadened the threat landscape giving criminals more opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities. The Intert of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices enable the convergence of operational technology and informational technology increasing attack surfaces.
“Exploit vulnerabilities have risen in parallel with the rise of remote work,” wrote Ament. “And like many other sectors, the healthcare industry has seen a significant increase in ransomware attacks. Analysts with Black Book Research are even forecasting such attacks in this sector to triple in 2021. Similarly, FortiGuard Labs’ research suggests that web browsers and IoT devices, in particular, will continue to be popular targets.”
With vaccine rollouts in full swing across the world, with governments determined to inoculate their citizens to finally end the COVID-19 pandemic, hackers are scouring through opportunities and attacking at the first of an opening. Ament noted how hackers are targeting technologies that “facilitate vaccine rollout, scheduling platforms that include personal information.”
“When cyber criminals threaten the healthcare space, including the vaccine supply chain, not only does it lead to financial losses, but it puts patient safety at risk as hackers often leak information online,” Ament wrote.
He advised organizations and governments to build a strong security foundation that can adapt to the complexity and volatility of the the healthcare landscape.
Supply chain risk management plan
Ament advised CISOs to “develop a supply chain risk management plan that identifies and catalogs the risks across the system development life cycle, including design, manufacturing, production, distribution, acquisition, installation, operations, maintenance, and decommissioning. For each identified risk, solutions must be developed, and alternatives must be created for every link in the chain.”
The importance of integration of networking and security strategies will enable healthcare cybersecurity leaders to achieve consistency and predictability in the face of the unprecedented demands now placed on their organizations. He noted the use effective solutions include Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and software-defined networking (SD-WAN) to enable integration and reduce complexity.
“As healthcare and digital transformation collide in the throes of a pandemic, the potential fallout in terms of human health and safety from COVID-19 vaccine supply chain attacks requires serious consideration and risk mitigation,” Ament wrote. “Healthcare security professionals are now charged with the safekeeping of critical health supplies and equipment. As a result, cybersecurity solutions require careful supply chain examination, risk management plan creation, and consistent and diligent implementation.”