Fed­eral task force takes on health­care cy­ber­se­cu­rity

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Joseph Conn

A group tasked with im­prov­ing cy­ber­se­cu­rity will have a tough time as­suag­ing a fear­ful and tar­geted health­care in­dus­try whose front­line de­fend­ers are of­ten un­will­ing to talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Peo­ple are re­luc­tant to talk about it” be­cause it gives the “bad guys” ideas, Theresa Mead­ows said. She’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent and chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer at Cook Chil­dren’s Health Care Sys­tem, Fort Worth, Texas, and a mem­ber of the newly cre­ated HHS task force for health­care cy­ber­se­cu­rity.

A half-dozen hos­pi­tals have been hit by ran­somware at­tack­ers in the past month, and Mead­ows said she doesn’t see that slow­ing down any time soon.

The 21-mem­ber task force, autho­rized by the Cy­ber­se­cu­rity In­for­ma­tion Shar­ing Act of 2015, is charged with look­ing at what other in­dus­tries are do­ing to pro­tect their com­puter sys­tems, net­works and dig­i­tal data. The group’s first face-to-face meet­ing is sched­uled for April 20-21 in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Mem­bers will look for the best ways or­ga­ni­za­tions of all types are keep­ing data and con­nected med­i­cal de­vices safe and se­cure, said Mary Wake­field, HHS act­ing deputy sec­re­tary, in a state­ment re­leased when mem­bers to the task force were named.

The group will even­tu­ally re­port its find­ings to Congress.

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