By Keri Forsythe-Stephens
June marks a monumental month for 24×7 Magazine: Our publication, which premiered in 1996, celebrates 21 years in print. It’s a particularly noteworthy accomplishment for a magazine, which often falls victim to dwindling subscribership.
Not 24×7 Magazine, though, so I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to our loyal subscribers, writers, and advertisers. You’re the reason we are around today and celebrating this major milestone.
But enough with the sappy stuff. June’s issue is also significant since it deals with an issue that is all too timely in the healthcare sector: cybersecurity. 24×7 Magazine contributor Chris Hayhurst explores the issue in-depth in this month’s cover story, “Securing a Safer Cyber Future” and IT aficionado Arleen Thukral touches on the subject in her Networking column, “The Challenge of Securing Medical Devices.”
Such articles—which were planned months ago—are proving to be nearly prophetic. On Friday, May 12, at least 16 hospitals across England were crippled by a massive, international ransomware attack that froze IT systems and forced patients to be turned away. It was so bad, in fact, that ambulances had to be diverted and entire departments had to shut down.
The attack reportedly used the “Wanna Decryptor” version of malware, which blasts users with an “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!” message and demands payment before the device can be unlocked. In the case of the British hospitals, users were forced to pay $300 worth of the digital currency Bitcoin.
Obviously, Ken Olbrish, who was interviewed for this month’s cover story, couldn’t have predicted the latest cyberattack—but I doubt he was surprised by it. Olbrish, who currently serves as senior product manager at Arthrex California Technology, told 24×7 Magazine that he anticipates a future where there are “so many threats—and so many new threats all the time—that trying to manage them will become too difficult” for many healthcare entities to handle.
It’s admittedly a bleak outlook, but it’s one that is shared by numerous IT experts, including personnel at global information services company Experian. In fact, the company projects that healthcare organizations will rank as the top target for hackers in 2017 since medical data is extremely lucrative for cybercriminals.
A sign of the times? Perhaps. And while I admit that this prediction scares me a bit from a professional—and personal—standpoint, I know that one thing’s for certain: 24×7 Magazine will be covering all the news related to healthcare cybersecurity for decades to come.
Keri Forsythe-Stephens is chief editor of 24×7 Magazine. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].