It’s no secret that 2016 was a rough year for cybersecurity in the medical field.

  • 21st-century Oncology leaked 2.2 million patients’ information.
  • Premier Healthcare lost unencrypted records for 200,00 patients.
  • Hollywood Presbyterian Medical center shelled out $17,000 after a ransomware attack.

And just to name a few. But when we look back on 2016, there will be one bright spot for hospital administrators and anyone in the medical field. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the second draft of its “Systems Security Engineering: Considerations for a Multidisciplinary Approach in the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure System”, or as it’s also known, SP 800-160.

At first glance, you might think that you’ll have to hire someone to translate SP 800-160. But it can be conquered. SP 800-160 was actually written for any engineers or inventors who create devices that may have information security concerns, which means that it could be used as a guide for someone creating an Internet of Things device who doesn’t have a background in cybersecurity. It also covers what you should look for in vendors who are selling you products or services.

No matter who you are or what you do, a solid understanding of SP 800-160 will help you guard your information and devices. But SP 800-160 is especially helpful to medical administrators for two reasons:

  1. SP 800-160 takes an organization-wide approach to creating secure networks whether it be determining which devices need to be taken offline or making sure every individual in the organization understands the cyber threats the medical field faces.
  2. With the amount of sensitive information, people, and devices that make up a medical organization, they are ripe targets for cybercrime.

When an MRI goes down or a doctor can’t access their patient’s records people can die, and that’s why hackers target hospitals. SP 800-160 can at least give every hospital, small practice, and company a chance to design effective cybersecurity measures.

The bad news is that SP 800-160 is a 300-page long technical manual that will take some time to read. The even worse news is that in 2017 you might not have a choice but to read it and get serious about your cybersecurity. Hackers are getting more creative with their malware and the medical field and the people who rely on it will pay for it.

Recently, a new type of ransomware was discovered that gives the original victim the encryption key if they infect two other networks with the same ransomware. And you can bet there will be more sick twists on how cybercriminals squeeze money out of people in the new year.

There is some good news, though. People understand how important SP 800-160, so the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT) published a summary to go along with SP 800-160 that makes it easier to digest. If you read ICIT’s summary you should be prepared to take on the SP 800-160.

The steps to cybersecurity have been laid out before you. SP 800-160 may not apply to your home Wi-Fi router, but if you have any say in the network security of your company or hospital then you need to know it. There are not very many resources like it and there won’t be any more anytime soon. Take advantage of SP 800-160 and implement the recommended steps. Even if it means seriously changing your organization’s operations, you don’t have the luxury of doing nothing any longer.

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