WHA’s Cybersecurity Conference Focuses on Preparedness and Response

October 30, 2018

At a WHA emergency preparedness conference in Madison on October 23 focusing on health care cybersecurity, hospital and health system attendees learned important lessons about preparing for and responding to cybersecurity threats such as as ransomware, hacking, and breaches of health information.

Byron Franz, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent and the Strategic Partnership Coordinator for the FBI’s Milwaukee Division, provided conference attendees with an overview of the various cybersecurity threats facing U.S. businesses and critical infrastructure, including the health care industry.  Franz discussed strategies for mitigating or neutralizing such threats, including working with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies during cybersecurity incidents.

Marti Arvin, a health care privacy and information security expert with the consulting firm CynergisTek, explained the health care industry experiences, on average, twice the number of cyberattacks as other industries, and health care often is the first critical infrastructure sector that criminals and hackers target.  After discussing real-world examples of cybersecurity incidents and assessing the current cybersecurity threat landscape, Arvin shared best practices for cybersecurity preparedness and how to create organizational awareness of health care privacy and security.

Attendees also heard a presentation from Dr. Daniel Nigrin, who was the Chief Information Officer for Boston Children’s Hospital when, in 2014, Boston Children’s Hospital was targeted in a sustained cyberattack by the hacker group known as “Anonymous.” Dr. Nigrin shared the countermeasures that Boston Children’s Hospital used to withstand the attack, as well as other lessons learned, including the need to pay closer attention to cybersecurity threats.

Tom Walsh, the founder and managing partner of the consulting firm tw-Security, likewise shared his health care cybersecurity expertise with conference attendees.  Walsh discussed the six “phases” of effective incident response: detection, analysis, containment, eradication, recovery, and post-incident activities.  Walsh also explained that an effective incident response program reduces organizational costs and recovery time, protects the organization’s reputation, and provides a framework for continuous improvement.

If you have any questions regarding the conference or emergency preparedness in general, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA Assistant General Counsel, at 608-274-1820 or visit WHA’s Emergency Preparedness webpage.

This story originally appeared in the October 30, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter