World leaders in cyber security have come together to form an Advisory Council to share insight and drive innovation to help tackle the many security challenges facing the rapidly digitalising healthcare sector.

The council has been formed by Cylera, a healthcare IoT and medical device cyber security specialist; healthcare is a top target for cyber criminals, with access to rich patient data and a potential to cause significant damage and disruption to patient care.

A total of 81% of UK healthcare organisations experienced a ransomware attack last year with patient in-person appointments having to be cancelled as a result, for two-thirds of these organisations, according to a new study by Obrela Security Industries.

The potential cyber security risk to the healthcare sector is anticipated to worsen with further digitalisation.

Timur Ozekcin, CEO at Cylera, who also recently appointed a new chief operating officer, said: “Healthcare is undergoing a particularly dramatic digital transformation with accelerated spend in IoT expected to reach $54 billion by 2029.

“… the number of remotely monitored patients has risen sharply in the past couple years. Connected environments are becoming increasingly more complex in healthcare and, with the sector planning further digital investment tens of thousands of more devices will join the IT networks, many of which could be a security risk, expanding a hospital’s attack surface for threat actors to exploit.

“Remote user access, unsegmented and potentially unmanaged networks, legacy operating systems and limited visibility into IoT device risks are just some of the security challenges keeping healthcare leaders and heads of hospital IT awake at night as they try to navigate the complexities of today’s interconnected device landscape.”

The Cylera cyber security Advisory Council is made up of select members and involves CISOs, CIOs and CTOs from major healthcare providers and hospitals, along with private sector companies.

The council will meet at least four times a year to share best practice, insight, and to address and tackle the unique security challenges of increasing complex interconnected healthcare systems.

The council will also guide Cylera in its global expansion plans and the latest innovations to its IoT device cyber security and intelligence platform.

“Cylera is at the forefront of IoT cybersecurity,” said Tomás Maldonado, CISO at the NFL (National Football League) and Cylera Advisory Council member.

“With increasing digitalisation and rapid adoption of IoT devices across every industry, including sports and entertainment venues, it’s imperative to stay ahead of the cybersecurity risks to the connected devices that make up our new cyber-physical environments.”