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A Hale and Hearty Network

by skathuria on ‎07-15-2014 11:48 AM


As I was reading this article describing examples of certain healthcare practitioners using data mining and analytics of patients’ lifestyles (e.g. foods they eat, activity levels, where they live, etc.) to help predict their risk factor for ailments, I started to draw a parallel to the state of the network. I was thinking about how security analytics of a network may help predict the onset of a data breach. The common goal in both cases, human and network, is to maintain a certain level of health – call it an “equilibrium” state, one that doesn’t require immediate intervention or repair.


Inspired by the table shared in the article describing what certain collected data about a patient could indicate about his/her health habits, I came up with a table containing types of network state related which could be indicators for a potential data exploit/breach.


State of Network


Weak password for an online account

This could allow a hacker to uncover the password (by using automated tools), gain access to user data (name, address, phone #, bank account/credit card data) and perform unauthorized transaction (e.g., purchase of product/service or withdrawal of money from bank account) on the user’s behalf.

Multiple unsuccessful attempts to search for usernames and passwords via Web browser exploitation techniques

This could result in a data breach.

Improper isolation of HR records, financial, medical, credit/debit card, or other PII data within Enterprise data center/private cloud network

This could inadvertently allow an insider (e.g. employee) access to the network for obtaining and selling data on black market for profit.

Excessive communication requests to a Web server or other resource, slowing it down considerably or rendering it unavailable

This could indicate someone is trying to gain access to the server for malicious intent.

No application layer protection at Enterprise edge

This could allow a hacker to launch an application-layer attack and access data for further exploitation.


Enterprise and service providers would benefit greatly from self-monitoring and constantly improving the health of networks, to minimize the possibility of a data breach.


One of the ways to do this is via technology, including application-aware, next generation firewalls, and strong SIEM solutions and network security management solutions (for firewall management), which provide visibility, analyze network security posture, and alert administrators about unusual network activity.


In addition, humans themselves should be held accountable for security. For one, it is imperative that the IT security team is proactively monitoring the network security posture, carefully balancing access to certain network resources, applications and data with control over the same. In addition, trust plays a big role in maintaining security and privacy, so it is ultimately the responsibility of individuals (business owners and employees) to not exploit data for personal gain.


Wireless Medical Devices – Don’t Forget to Secure Them!

by skathuria ‎07-09-2012 10:16 AM - edited ‎07-09-2012 10:17 AM

The healthcare industry is beginning to adopt technology to better assist patients, gain easier access to medical information and to administer medication. In particular, certain practitioners are either considering or have started adopting wireless (a.k.a., mobile) medical devices, such as implantable medical devices, external medical devices, or portable computers such as iPads, tablets, and smartphones, for such purposes. However, this isn’t without risk, according to The Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It recently announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for regulating medical devices, cannot regulate mobile medical device use or users, including how users are linked to or configured within networks such as private/public/hybrid clouds (managed data centers) which house medical data.


For the benefit of organizations that are considering adoption of mobile medical devices, an article published May 23, 2012, outlined five risks suggested by the DHS that should be considered:

1)      Insider Theft – Employees stealing data via network transfer (e.g., e-mail, remote access, or file transfer).


2)      Malware – Examples are keystroke loggers, Trojans, and other spyware designed to uncover, capture, and transmit to malicious third parties easily accessible sensitive data once inside the network.


3)      Spearphishing – E-mail based attack where customized e-mails containing malicious attachments or links are sent to key personnel; these e-mails are especially convincing because they appear to be sent from a legitimate source.


4)      Web – Methods such as silent redirection, obfuscated JavaScript and search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning, as well as legacy threats such as data communications interception and rogue access points can be used to penetrate a network, then ultimately access an organization’s data.


5)      Lost or stolen equipment – If a smartphone or tablet is lost or stolen, and then compromised, it can be an entry point into a health entity’s network and records.


To mitigate risks from adoption of wireless medical devices, healthcare providers should deploy security on these devices. Access control should be applied on a user level, based on the user’s role, so that irrespective of which device or location the user connects from, he/she is given access to only that data which is required for the applicable business purposes. Anti-malware and Web protection should be enabled for every Internet-connected mobile device, whether it is a medical device or a personal smartphone or iPad used to access the network and increase user productivity. Furthermore, in case a device is lost or stolen, it should be possible to remotely lock the device and/or wipe all its content, including logins and passwords, so that no one else can use the device to gain access to any sensitive data or exploit stored information. To learn about Juniper’s mobile device protection and management solutions, visit: Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite


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