The NZ Health Threat Intelligence Sharing Platform has been launched to help Kiwi health providers collaborate and respond to the increase in cyberattacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
IT consultancy and security experts Medical IT Advisors created the platform to serve its customers and is now opening it up to all NZ health related organisations, IT providers and security professionals to join it, share cybersecurity threats and encourage new collaborations.
Medical IT Advisors director Faustin Roman says that with the rapid digital transformation of healthcare due to Covid-19, there has been an escalation in cyberattacks aimed at healthcare organisations in New Zealand and internationally, as recently advised by CERT NZ and NCSC.
Publicly available feeds that are integrated into the platform are being updated daily and sometimes hourly with hundreds and even thousands of new threats, such as malware or phishing campaigns, related to the global pandemic and online malicious activity.
The new platform has around 2.5 million indicators and already a dozen users from trusted health organisations and service providers.
“Building and using a health threat intelligence platform allows us to manage cyberthreat indicators related to NZ health organisations and beyond, consume feeds automatically and share it with the community,” says Faustin.
He describes the platform as providing a type of ‘herd immunity’ against cyberattacks as once a threat has been identified in one organisation, it can be added to the platform and synchronised to ‘immunise’ all other users against it.
“Cybersecurity is a specialised area and resources are quite scarce in New Zealand, so we need to come together to help everyone, especially primary health organisations that are at the forefront of Covid-19 response and telehealth initiatives,” he says.
Medical IT Advisors works with various PHOs from across New Zealand.
WellSouth chief information officer Kyle Forde describes the Health Threat Intelligence Sharing Platform as a great initiative.
“If agencies share information around cyber threats, this intelligence helps inform not just individual participants in the program but the Ministry and Cert to proactively warn New Zealanders of these threats,” he says.
“The ‘Sharing is Caring’ ethos of the platform is important and the more we collaborate on threat intelligence the more aware New Zealand businesses will be of these impending threats to our organisations.”
Chief Information and Security Officer at healthAlliance Richard Harrison says, “access to threat intelligence is a key pillar of a security strategy and a collaborative approach to the sharing of cyberthreat indicators and intelligence is critical to long-term success”.
As early adopters of the new Health Threat Intelligence Sharing Platform, his team has already created some incidents and started to use some of the information coming out of it.
“Good intelligence reduces incident response times and false positives and by working together the entire health system benefits and is inherently more secure,” says Harrison.
Faustin says this is the first open threat intelligence platform for Kiwi health and he hopes to ultimately add similar services, such as cybersecurity training and assessments. An online self-survey on cybersecurity readiness has been freely available since 2018, as well as templates for information security standards.
“You hear too many stories of IT systems not working or security being too hard, but we need to find ways to ensure security acts as an enabler of good healthcare,” he says.
The Health Threat Intelligence Sharing Platform is maintained by Medical IT Advisors, which is looking for volunteers and sponsors, as well as investigating long-term sustainability options, such as shared costs or pay-per-use.
“This platform is a really, really effective tool, yet it does require a certain level of understanding and digital maturity to get the full benefits,” says Faustin.
“More funding and collaboration is certainly needed in New Zealand health.”
Medical IT Advisors can provide training and integration assistance, as well as other security services, on request.
Faustin recently spoke about this topic on the podcast channel Digital Health Insights with Scott Arrol.
Read more about Arrol’s views on cybersecurity and the new platform in his latest column for eHN.