February 29, 2024

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Mitigating IoT-related Risk in the U.S. Health Sector

The Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (HC3) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an advisory for the healthcare industry regarding the risks posed by using the Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets and urging it to be proactive in addressing such security dangers.

In particular, the HC3 supplied a listing of the maximum commonplace IoT assaults and pointers for minimising dangers hindering IoT devices, which consist of:

  • converting default router settings;
  • the use of unique passwords on every tool;
  • warding off the usage of typical plug-and-play;
  • retaining both software and firmware up to date; and
  • implementing a zero-trust model.

The HC3 also cited the importance of IoT security. Any internet-connected gadget is susceptible to hacking, and the IoT is no exception. A breach of these devices could result in catastrophic consequences, including tampering with traffic lights, disabling home security systems and harm to human life.

Since these devices might gather data, including personally identifying information, it is crucial to protect these systems. The ultimate objective is to protect the entire system, however, there are steps that may be taken to help achieve this, including securely storing, processing, and transferring data; maintaining the device’s security; and updating the device to lessen its vulnerabilities.

With the installation of IoT technology in an organisation, users also increase the attack surface upon which they can become a target for malicious activities. A flat network is one that contains IoT, IT devices, and operational technology (OT) in the same network.

Once attackers get initial access, they can execute the lateral movement and infiltrate more sensitive systems; this is the primary vulnerability. Network segmentation is an effective method for reducing the attack surface and preventing the compromising of entire systems.

The purpose of network segmentation in cyber security is to prevent the transmission of malware to other OT and applications. In network segmentation, the network is divided into several subnetworks or zones, which can minimise congestion and limit failures. This isolates the IoT devices from other IT equipment in use. Without segmentation, organisations run a greater risk of being hacked.

Some of the common IoT attacks are Privilege Escalation wherein an attacker can exploit bugs, unpatched vulnerabilities, design flaws, or even operating systems in an IoT device to obtain unauthorised access.

There is also a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attack. This is a type of attack where the attacker can intercept information being sent between two parties and can also be used to steal or alter data.

The term Eavesdropping is when an attacker intercepts, deletes or modifies data that is transmitted between devices. This attack relies on unsecured network communications, while the Brute-Force Attacks aim to gain access to the IoT devices that are left unchanged with factory-set passwords.

Similarly, in Firmware Hijacking attackers can take advantage of this environment by adding fake updates or drivers to download malicious software.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack is when infected with botnet malware, IoT devices can be used to perform large-scale cyber-attacks. On the other hand, the Physical Tampering Attack is when the attacker could gain initial access from physically insecure IoT devices to install malware.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Ukrainian State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection (SSSCIP) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to increase collaboration on common cybersecurity goals.

The MOC strengthens CISA’s current connection with the Ukrainian government in the areas of statistics exchanges and sharing of high-quality practises on cyber incidents, technical exchanges on the security of critical infrastructure, cybersecurity education, and cooperative athletic activities.


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