Cyber attacks against the NHS could lead to real harm for patients

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Cyber-attacks against the NHS are more dangerous than ‘just’ stealing confidential data, as according to a new report by VMware, actual physical harm to patients can come as a result of these breaches.

VMware’s new report, co-sponsored by Intel, says that almost two thirds (62 per cent) of IT decision makers in the HS fear attacks on equipment facilities could result in patients coming to harm.

Almost a third (29 per cent) have had to postpone or cancel appointments after a cyber-incident, and a quarter (26 per cent) have had to stop their research projects because of such an incident.

The report also claims that NHS staff need to be better trained. Even though they’re not the biggest threat, staff and even patients are at huge risk of leaking data.

“With many attacks aimed at end user devices, NHS staff are an important line of defence against the cyber threat,” the report states.

“Across the NHS, there are many fantastic examples of IT leaders being incredibly innovative in embracing new technologies to defend their complex infrastructures against cyber-threats,” said Tim Hearn, director, UK Government and public services, VMware.

“But the NHS is facing an uphill battle in keeping patient data safe against a backdrop of more persistent and diverse threats which increasingly target applications, bypassing traditional security. It needs to modernise its approach and focus on protection from the inside out; this means investing more than the 10 percent of IT budget on security that it currently sets aside.”

“Its leaders are clearly saying two things – that the risk of data breach will have a significant negative impact on patients and the UK as a whole, and that they need more support, investment and skills in remaining secure. A huge part of this is introducing a ‘People, Process and Technology’ approach to security – ensuring that, as well as having the right technology in place, people receive the right training and education to help tackle the threat.”

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