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Cybersecurity Trends Likely to Impact Veterinary Practices in 2023

By January 6, 2023February 16th, 2024No Comments

In recent years, cybersecurity has become a critical concern for veterinary practices and organizations across all industries. The increased frequency of cyber-attacks and potential consequences, including regulatory penalties and damage to customer trust, make it essential for veterinary practices to prioritize cybersecurity.

While it is often thought of as a battle between hackers and security experts, threats can come from a variety of sources, such as improperly secured networks or employees using unsecured devices while working remotely. The shift towards remote work and the proliferation of the Internet of Things have further increased the potential for security breaches in the veterinary field. It is important for practices to stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity trends in order to protect sensitive patient and business information.

In 2023, some key trends to watch in the realm of veterinary cybersecurity include:

1. Continued Use of Ransomware Attacks

Despite optimism at the start of 2022 following a handful of wins against cybercriminals by the US government, which included seizing $2.3 million in Bitcoin that Colonial Pipeline had paid to the Darkside ransomware group to reclaim its data, the year turned out to be one of the worst in terms of ransomware attacks. The expectations that we would see fewer ransomware attacks in 2022 did not materialize, and instead, we saw an increase in such attacks against small and medium enterprises, including veterinary practices of a similar size.

In 2023, there is a high likelihood that, just like in 2022, we will see a surge in ransomware attacks, especially against small and medium enterprises. The cyberattacks are likely to be exacerbated by worsening global financial conditions, such as inflation, which will push cybercriminals to be more aggressive in their attacks.

As a veterinary practice, the chances of your practice being targeted this year will be high as ransomware groups refocus their efforts from critical infrastructure and financial services to small and medium enterprises regardless of industry.

2. Increased State-Sponsored Cyberattacks

State-sponsored cyber attacks are cyber-attacks that are conducted by or on behalf of a government. These attacks can be carried out for a variety of reasons, including espionage, sabotage, or even warfare. In 2023, these types of attacks are likely to see an increase.

Although state-sponsored cyberattacks do not directly target veterinary practices, there is a high likelihood that these cybercriminals might target critical infrastructure that is vital to veterinary practices, potentially disrupting their operations. State-sponsored cyberattacks can also target large third-party software services that veterinary practices use on a daily basis, potentially exposing your clients’ data indirectly.

3. Internet of Things and Cloud Security

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing number of devices that are connected to the internet and capable of transmitting and receiving data. These devices can include anything from smart thermostats and security cameras to industrial equipment and medical devices. As the number of IoT devices continues to grow, so does the need to secure them.

One of the challenges with securing IoT devices is that many of them were not designed with security in mind. They may have limited processing power and memory, making it difficult to run traditional security software on them. Additionally, many IoT devices are accessed remotely, which can make them more vulnerable to attack.

Unfortunately, 2023 is likely to see interconnected devices become a target for cybercriminals. Therefore, to address problems caused by IoT, veterinary practices will need to implement robust security measures for their IoT devices. This may include things like secure authentication and access controls, as well as software updates and patches to fix any vulnerabilities that are discovered. It will also be important to develop industry-wide standards and guidelines for IoT device security to ensure that these devices are as secure as possible.

4. Increased Attention on Supply Chain Security

Supply chain attacks involve compromising the security of a company’s supply chain in order to gain access to the company’s systems or data. This can be done through various means, such as compromising the security of a supplier or vendor or by introducing malicious software into a product that is then sold to the target company.

Supply chain attacks can be difficult to detect and prevent, as they often involve multiple parties and systems that are outside of a company’s direct control. Additionally, the impact of a supply chain attack can be far-reaching, as the compromised company’s systems and data may be accessed and used to launch further attacks on other organizations.

As a result, there is likely to be an increased focus on supply chain security in the coming year. This may involve implementing stronger security measures at all points in the supply chain, as well as conducting regular security assessments and audits to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities. It may also involve working closely with suppliers and vendors to ensure that their security practices are up to par.

5. Artificial Intelligence Playing a Vital Role in Both Cyberattacks and Cybersecurity

As the volume of cyber attacks continues to rise, it has become increasingly challenging for human cybersecurity experts to keep up with and predict the location of future attacks. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms can analyze large amounts of data in real-time more effectively than humans and identify patterns that may indicate a threat. In fact, IBM estimates that companies using AI and automation to detect and respond to data breaches save an average of $3 million compared to those that do not.

However, the availability of AI has also made it easier for hackers to use these tools to their advantage. AI algorithms can identify systems with weak security or those likely to contain valuable data among the millions of connected devices and networks on the internet. It can also be used to create large numbers of personalized phishing emails designed to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information and to evade automated email defense systems that filter out these types of messages. In some cases, AI has even been used to “clone” the voices of executives in order to authorize transactions fraudulently.

This use of AI in cybersecurity has been referred to as an “arms race,” as both hackers and security experts strive to have the most advanced algorithms working for them. The market for AI cybersecurity products is expected to reach nearly $139 billion by 2030, a nearly tenfold increase from the value of the 2021 market. In the veterinary field, it is important for practices to stay up-to-date on the latest AI technologies and best practices in order to protect against potential threats and maintain the confidentiality and integrity of their data.

– Clint Latham

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