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Proactive Threat Detection: Managed Detection and Response (MDR) Services

Lorna Jones

Lorna Jones, Senior Cyber Security Consultant
Jan 20, 2024

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The Doctor Will See You Now. Unless Hackers Bring Down the Hospital

It was a day like any other at Mercy Hospital when suddenly, nurses couldn't access patient records. Doctors were locked out of critical systems, and medical devices stopped working. Chaos ensued as staff scrambled to handle the crisis manually, but it was too late. The hospital had become the latest victim of a crippling ransomware attack.

This fictional scenario is an alarming new reality for healthcare organisations across the globe. Once considered safe havens, hospitals now find themselves in the crosshairs of sophisticated cyber criminals bent on extortion and disruption. In 2021 alone, the US healthcare sector reported 642 data breaches compromising nearly 40 million patient records. The impact of these cyberattacks on patient care and safety can be devastating. So how can hospitals and clinics fight back against this unceasing threat? The answer lies in advanced, proactive cyber defences.

Threats Lurking in Plain Sight

The healthcare industry faces a perfect storm of factors that introduce extensive cybersecurity risks, even though threats may not always be evident on the surface. It creates an environment where dangers lurk in plain sight until it's too late.

A significant contributor is the widespread use of outdated hardware and software within healthcare, especially at smaller clinics and rural facilities with limited IT budgets. Older systems often need the latest security features, run unsupported operating systems with unpatched vulnerabilities, and need help to handle newer authentication mechanisms like multi-factor authentication. It provides easy targets for hackers.

Additionally, the susceptible personal and medical data housed in EMRs, insurance systems, and other platforms is invaluable for criminals seeking to commit identity fraud or hold data hostage. Electronic health records fetch high prices on the dark web, making healthcare databases attractive targets.

Legacy medical devices like MRI machines, X-ray systems, and infusion pumps pose another threat, as they are challenging to update or secure since they must remain highly available for patient care. These devices often have unpatched firmware or run older OSes, creating security gaps.

Finally, the unique life-critical nature of healthcare makes it hard to take systems offline to do security patching, upgrades, and recovery after incidents. The constant accessibility requirements provide a large window for attackers to infiltrate networks undetected.

Together, these factors introduce extensive threats that hide in plain sight within outdated systems, unsecured devices, and other overlooked weak points across sprawling healthcare environments. Proactive threat detection is critical to uncovering these risks before someone exploits them in cyberattacks.

Proactive Threat Detection - The Game Changer

CISOs need to evolve from reactive security models to proactive threat detection to combat various threats targeting healthcare. This strategic shift enables identifying threats based on early signs of compromise before any damage is done. Proactive detection is a game changer because it flips the advantage to defenders.

Using powerful analytics tools like SIEMs, UEBA, and EDR, security teams can ingest massive amounts of event data from across the environment to identify abnormal behaviour that signals emerging threats.

SIEMs correlate information from disparate systems to uncover risks like brute force attacks against EMR logins. Using advanced machine learning algorithms, UEBA profiles standard user patterns to flag anomalous insider actions. EDR detects subtle endpoint indicators of ransomware or malware activity starting.

These technologies establish a baseline for everyday activity and communications between systems, networks, users and apps. Analysts can then configure robust alerts for deviations from normal baselines that match known patterns indicative of reconnaissance, lateral movement, data exfiltration, or other attack tactics.

With reliable alerts for suspicious activity, security teams can investigate and verify if an incident is unfolding in its early phases rather than after the fact. This early warning allows rapid response to contain threats like ransomware or insider data theft before wide-scale damage occurs.

Proactive hunting for IOCs and threat patterns reveals risks like unpatched systems or unsecured S3 buckets that attackers could exploit. Identifying these gaps allows remediation to prevent actual compromise.
These proactive capabilities powered by advanced analytics offer healthcare organisations the game-changing opportunity to get ahead of threats rather than constantly reacting after incidents strike. Security leaders gain the upper hand again.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) - Threat Detection as a Service

MDR or Managed Detection and Response services provide 24/7 threat monitoring, detection and response capabilities delivered as a managed service. MDR providers leverage state-of-the-art SOCs (security operations centres) packed with security analysts and engineers to optimise threat detection and response across client environments continuously.
Key features and benefits of MDR services include:

  • Advanced Analytics: MDR tech stacks include AI-enhanced SIEMs, endpoint detection tech, and other analytics tools to identify known and unknown threat patterns.
  • Holistic Coverage: MDR consolidates and correlates security alerts and events from endpoints, cloud apps, emails, networks, IoT devices etc., for unified visibility.
  • Elite Security Talent: Top SOC analysts and engineers enhance analytics with human expertise to detect and neutralise elusive threats.
  • Proactive Hunting: Regular threat hunts uncover hidden or dormant risks before attackers can exploit them.
  • Rapid Response: MDR experts contain attacks within minutes or hours before damage spreads.
  • Healthcare Focus: Leading MDRs offer solutions tailored to securing healthcare environments and assets.
  • Lower TCO: MDR provides superior detection while minimising client security overheads.
    For healthcare organisations, offloading security monitoring and response to an MDR unlocks several impactful benefits:

Neutralizing Healthcare's Biggest Cyber Threats with MDR

  • Ransomware Protection: MDR's continuous monitoring can detect ransomware activity in its early stages based on indicators like encryption, file deletion, data exfiltration etc. - allowing quick containment.
  • Insider Threat Alerts: Behavioral analytics spots suspicious user activity indicative of insider theft - like abnormal database queries or transfers.
  • Medical Device Security: MDRs can monitor medical equipment, properly apply security settings and catch anomalous activity.
  • Phishing Prevention: Email security capabilities catch phishing attempts and other social engineering attacks targeting hospital staff.
  • Vulnerability Protection: Regular audits and patching supported by MDR services plug security gaps that attackers exploit.
  • Regulatory Compliance: MDR auditing and reporting provide proof of adequate controls for HIPAA, HITECH and other healthcare regulations.
  • Brand Protection: Robust threat detection minimises the odds of patient data theft that can erode public trust and damage the hospital's reputation.

    MDR in Action - Real-World Healthcare Wins

    The benefits of partnering with an MDR become clearer through real-world examples of MDR services protecting healthcare organisations:

    "Logan Health Hospital was under siege from weekly ransomware attacks until its MDR service deployed layered anti-ransomware controls to detect malicious encryption attempts and halt the attacks."
    "Sunnyvale Clinic's MDR spotted a 20-year employee stealing thousands of patient records via abnormal access pattern alerts and helped contain the insider threat."
    "When Advanced Care Hospital suffered a breach, a forensic investigation led by its MDR found the root cause to be unpatched VPN appliances vulnerable to attacks."
    "Bayside Healthcare's MDR helped it pass an urgent HIPAA compliance audit by providing comprehensive threat detection and response documentation required."
    "After repeated failed penetration tests, Zion Hospital's MDR discovered and eliminated security misconfigurations in its public cloud environment."
    These real-world examples showcase the MDR difference in neutralising cyber threats facing modern healthcare organisations. Expert MDR services bring healthcare security teams closer to providing an iron-clad safety net against attacks.

    Reclaiming Healthcare's Cybersecurity Advantage

    As digital transformation and connectivity accelerate across healthcare, so do the options available to hackers looking for security gaps to exploit. Without proactive threat visibility, healthcare defenders will always be one step behind the next crippling cyberattack.
    But hospitals and clinics can finally reclaim their cybersecurity advantage with MDR services. Unifying detection capabilities under a single partner relieves the security team's burden while benefiting from world-class protection. Healthcare organisations can focus on delivering better patient outcomes, not recovering from cyber incidents.

    When health systems are free from disruption, doctors and nurses can dedicate their precious time to what matters most - saving lives. And patients can once again see their hospital as a trusted sanctuary of care and support, not a crime scene peppered with cybersecurity tape. By proactively locking the doors to hackers, MDR services are helping secure healthcare's noble mission for the digital age - and that is indeed what the doctor ordered.

    The Next Step: Join Industry Leaders Securing Healthcare's Future

    The healthcare sector stands at a crossroads. As cyber threats grow more severe, healthcare organisations can either continue with fragmented security tools and unprotected vulnerabilities that put patient safety at risk every day. Or they can join over 2500 companies and institutions, including healthcare institutions that have already moved to proactive threat detection with MicrominderCS.

    MicrominderCS is the trusted MDR partner for innovative hospitals, clinics and health networks worldwide. Its solutions are tailored to meet the unique security challenges of healthcare, allowing CISOs to optimise threat visibility, streamline monitoring and enable rapid response.
    By leveraging MicrominderCS's healthcare-focused MDR, CISOs can focus on improving cyber resilience while supporting patient outcomes. Analysts with deep healthcare expertise provide 24/7 monitoring and response powered by industry-leading tech stacks. Real-time analytics feed intelligent alerts to quickly mitigate ransomware, insider threats, medical device hijacking, and more.

    The proof is in the results - MicrominderCS customers see an average 90% decrease in breach impact. So make sure to leave your healthcare organisation's future to chance. The path forward is clear - proactive threat detection with MicrominderCS. Let us help you secure healthcare's noble mission against disruptive cyber risks. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our security specialists.

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