Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

6/14/2017
09:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Hospital Email Security in Critical Condition as DMARC Adoption Lags

Healthcare providers put patient data at risk by failing to protect their email domains with DMARC adoption.

Healthcare providers are slow to adopt Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) protocol, and it's dangerously compromising their email security, according to new research by the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA).

The GCA scanned nearly 100 hospitals, half for-profit and half public, to evaluate the extent of DMARC adoption. Nearly all (99%) of the largest public and private hospitals have failed to secure their email domains from threat actors.

DMARC protects against phishing attacks by verifying whether an email is truly from the domain it claims to be from. It's designed to help businesses stop spammers from using an email domain to trick customers, partners, and employees into sharing data. DMARC discloses attempts to spam, phish, or spearphish a business brand or name.

"This is particularly critical for hospitals and healthcare companies," says GCA president and CEO Philip Reitinger, of DMARC. "Your health data is actually much more valuable to someone who wants to spoof your identity than your credit data or username."

Attackers target healthcare organizations by using phishing emails with malicious attachments to target medical data stored on hospital networks. These records contain personally identifiable information like home addresses, Social Security numbers, etc.

"Most intrusions still start with email," says Reitinger. "It's still the weapon of choice for bad guys to get things they shouldn't get."

Black Hat USA returns to the fabulous Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 22-27, 2017. Click for information on the conference schedule and to register.

Verizon's 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) found 15% of data breaches in the last year involved healthcare businesses. Two-thirds of malware installed on healthcare networks arrived via email attachment, sent by hackers looking for personal data.

Researchers found only one of the hospitals using DMARC has deployed to a level that prevents spam from arriving in users' inboxes. Twenty-two of the 48 largest private hospitals, and six of the 50 largest public hospitals, have deployed DMARC "in a limited capacity," says Reitinger.

There are multiple levels of DMARC adoption. "Limited capacity" indicates deployment at the monitor level, which tells organizations someone is trying to spoof their customers with a fake domain name but does not block spam delivery. This is a sign hospitals want to know whether they have correctly deployed DMARC, he explains. It means they are headed in the right direction.

Reitinger cites several reasons for slow DMARC adoption. "Part of the problem is awareness, part of it is incentive," he says, noting that some people aren't aware of DMARC at all.

Incentive is a powerful motivator for CEOs and CFOs worried about customer trust. CISOs and CIOs can deploy DMARC and prevent customers from getting phished, but they aren't the executives interacting with consumers. The CEO relies on emails going through and therefore has more incentive to ensure DMARC is deployed effectively.

"Email is still the main way businesses communicate online and you want to make sure you do it right," says Reitinger. Many organizations are worried they will make mistakes and prevent emails from going through.

"DMARC, at least for small and medium-sized businesses, is not that complicated to deploy," he explains. "It's more complicated, and takes more effort, for bigger entities. It depends on how complicated the infrastructure you use to send mail is."

Healthcare isn't the only industry lagging in DMARC adoption, he continues. Most businesses are still in monitoring mode. Reitinger's statements echo findings from the Federal Trade Commission, which conducted research on 500 businesses to evaluate usage of DMARC, Sender Policy Framework (SPF), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).

The FTC discovered most (86%) of organizations use SPF to verify IP addresses and DKIM for digital signatures. Only one-third use DMARC, and less than 10% are using the strongest available setting, which tells recipients to reject unauthenticated messages.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-30477
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
An issue was discovered in Zulip Server before 3.4. A bug in the implementation of replies to messages sent by outgoing webhooks to private streams meant that an outgoing webhook bot could be used to send messages to private streams that the user was not intended to be able to send messages to.
CVE-2021-30478
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
An issue was discovered in Zulip Server before 3.4. A bug in the implementation of the can_forge_sender permission (previously is_api_super_user) resulted in users with this permission being able to send messages appearing as if sent by a system bot, including to other organizations hosted by the sa...
CVE-2021-30479
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
An issue was discovered in Zulip Server before 3.4. A bug in the implementation of the all_public_streams API feature resulted in guest users being able to receive message traffic to public streams that should have been only accessible to members of the organization.
CVE-2021-30487
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
In the topic moving API in Zulip Server 3.x before 3.4, organization administrators were able to move messages to streams in other organizations hosted by the same Zulip installation.
CVE-2020-36288
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-15
The issue navigation and search view in Jira Server and Data Center before version 8.5.12, from version 8.6.0 before version 8.13.4, and from version 8.14.0 before version 8.15.1 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTML or JavaScript via a DOM Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability caused ...