AI Will Radically Change Healthcare Security

The massive recent growth in cyber-attacks has become a huge concern for just about everyone all around the world. This includes individuals, business, industry, and governments. Most alarmingly this also seems to include a myriad of critical infrastructure services like healthcare which is firmly in the cross-hairs of perpetrators. Healthcare presents an easy and lucrative target for cyber-attackers for the value of PII, PHI and IP but also, for the extortion value of holding sick patients or their medical data to ransom.

The criminal underworld that is behind many of the current cyberattacks is not just highly organized and specialized, its syndicated, heavily networked across geographic and political boundaries and now forms a giant cartel - a criminal underworld of cyber crime, where the buying and selling of exploits, stolen data, and the laundering of dirty money is as business-like as the 24/7 customer service these groups provide to victims.
Just as South American drug lords dominate the manufacture and supply of illegal narcotics sold in the United States, the Russian Mafia and its off-shoots dominate the cyber criminal theft and extortion racket that attacks the United States, Europe and Asia. Thanks to their location in the former USSR  which lacks extradition treaties with the rest of the world, most of these perpetrators are immune from prosecution in the countries where they inflict damage. Their locations also typically lack robust local or national law enforcement, and police officers can be easily paid off to look the other way. In other words cyber criminals can act and ply their trade with impunity unlikely ever to be brought to justice. 
Then there are the nation-state actors, who have vast units of military intelligence cyber operatives used to attack and weaken other countries for political and economic advantage. They often push up against the boundaries of acceptability and cyber war, carefully calculating that their actions will not cause a kinetic, or major economic or diplomatic response from those attacked and injured. China leads the ranks with hundreds of thousands of PLA cyber warriors, while the Russian GRU, and FSB, are not far behind. Not without mention are also Iranian state actors or groups operating out of China on behalf of the Kim dynastic regime of North Korea.

Together, these nation states, their proxies and plain and simple opportunistic criminal cartels present a formidable foe for anyone defending a government, a nation's critical infrastructure services or any business. But cyber-attacks are increasingly becoming automated using AI to get past cyber defenses by removing the human constraint factor that causes an attacker to pause for consideration. ‘Offensive AI’ mutates itself as it learns about its environment to stealthily mimic humans to avoid detection. It is the new cyber offensive weapon of choice and will automate responses to defensive measures rather like playing chess with a computer – it learns as it goes! Anyone who has seen the movie 'War Games' a 1983 American Cold War science fiction techno-thriller, will soon realize that this assumed intelligence can be dangerous, as computers lack human reasoning, empathy or broader understanding and could easily take an attack too far.

The author presenting how AI will radically change healthcare security at the HIMSS AsiaPac19 
Annual Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.



We are all used to critically evaluating an image to look for the tale-tale signs of photoshopping or other image manipulation before believing what we see. The same is true for audio recordings – was that really the President saying that or was it an impersonator? What we are not used to is video manipulation – this is new territory for our brains to critically process and evaluate for truth and accuracy. AI is increasingly being used in sophisticated technology to create ‘deepfakes’ where a face is superimposed on someone else’s body or the entire video is computer generated.


Data Integrity

AI’s intent is not just to steal information but to change it in such a way that integrity checking will be difficult if not impossible. Did a physician really update a patient’s medical record or did ‘Offensive AI’? Can a doctor or nurse trust the validity of the electronic health information presented to them? Ransom of patient lives may not be too far away – especially at times of heightened global tensions.

Defensive AI

But AI is already being used very effectively for cyber defense across healthcare and other industries. Advanced malware protection that inoculates the LAN and responds in nano-seconds to anomalous behavior patterns. Biomedical security tools that use AI to constantly manage and secure the rising number of healthcare IoT devices as they connect and disconnect from hospital networks. AI-powered attacks will outpace human response teams and outwit current legacy-based defenses. ‘Defensive AI’ is not merely a technological advantage in fighting cyber-attacks, but a vital ally on this new battlefield and the only way to protect patients from the cyber criminals of the future. 

More Resources

See also The Impact of AI and HIoT Related Threats from the HIMSS Show Daily

See also my LiveStream TV Interview from HIMSS AsiaPac19

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