Veterinary practices are increasingly relying on technology to improve their services and operations, such as using electronic health records, cloud-based solutions, telemedicine, and IoT devices. However, technology also brings new risks and vulnerabilities, as cyber attackers can exploit them to steal, damage, or manipulate data, devices, or systems. Cyberattacks can have serious consequences for veterinary practices, such as financial losses, reputational damage, legal liabilities, and even physical harm to animals and humans.
Therefore, veterinary practices need to be proactive and vigilant in their cybersecurity and adopt the best practices and solutions to protect their business and customers. They also need to keep up with the latest trends and developments in cybersecurity and anticipate future challenges and opportunities. In the following sections, we will discuss the top 10 cybersecurity trends that will dominate in 2024 and how veterinary practices can prepare for them.
AI-powered threats and defenses
AI and ML can be used for both good and evil. Cyber attackers can use AI and ML to launch more advanced and automated attacks, such as phishing, ransomware, and malware. These attacks can bypass traditional security measures and evade detection and analysis. Cybersecurity professionals can use AI and ML to detect and respond to threats more effectively, such as by using behavioral analytics, anomaly detection, and threat intelligence.
AI-powered threats and defenses will become more common and sophisticated as both attackers and defenders will use more data, algorithms, and computing power. Veterinary practices should invest in security solutions that use AI and ML and monitor and update their systems regularly. They should also be aware of the ethical and legal implications of using AI and ML, such as data privacy, bias, and accountability.
IoT devices are widely used in veterinary practices, such as for monitoring animal health, tracking inventory, and controlling environmental conditions. However, IoT devices also create new security risks, as they can be hacked or compromised by malicious actors, leading to data breaches, device malfunction, or physical harm. For example, a hacker could alter the temperature or humidity of an animal enclosure or inject malware into a medical device.
In 2024, IoT security will become more critical and challenging as the number and variety of IoT devices will increase and become more complex and interconnected. Veterinary practices should implement strong security measures for their IoT devices, such as using strong passwords, encryption, and authentication. They should also conduct regular security audits and updates and separate them from other networks if possible. They should also choose trustworthy and reputable IoT vendors and partners and verify their security standards and certifications.
Remote work offers convenience and flexibility but also brings new cybersecurity challenges, such as unsecured networks, devices, and applications. Remote work also requires more communication and collaboration tools, which can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. For example, a hacker could intercept a video call or a file transfer or compromise a cloud service or a mobile app.
In 2024, remote work will continue to affect the way people work and live. Veterinary practices should adapt to the new reality of remote work and ensure the security and productivity of their employees and clients. They should use secure networks, devices, and applications and provide training and support for their remote workers. They should also use reliable and secure communication and collaboration tools and monitor and manage their remote work environment.
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks the victim’s data or device and asks for a ransom to unlock them. Ransomware is one of the most common and harmful cyber threats, as it can cause a lot of trouble and damage to the victim’s business and reputation. Ransomware attacks are likely to grow and become more complex as attackers use AI, ML, and ransomware-as-a-service to target and blackmail their victims. For example, a ransomware group could target a veterinary practice and threaten to leak their confidential data or stop their services unless they pay a large ransom.
Ransomware will become more prevalent and sophisticated, as the ransomware market will expand and diversify, and the ransomware gangs will become more organized and aggressive. Veterinary practices should secure their data, devices, and systems from ransomware attacks and use advanced malware detection and prevention solutions, such as endpoint protection, sandboxing, and threat hunting. They should also backup their data regularly and perform malware scans and removals frequently. They should also not pay the ransom, as it does not guarantee the recovery of their data or the removal of the malware, and it encourages more attacks.
Phishing is a type of cyberattack that uses fake emails, messages, or websites to trick users into giving up sensitive information or installing malicious software. Phishing attacks are one of the most frequent and successful cyber threats, as they use human psychology and emotions, such as curiosity, fear, or greed. Phishing attacks are expected to evolve and become more sophisticated as attackers use personalization, deception, and social engineering to target their victims.a good example of phishing is it could impersonate a trusted source, such as a colleague, a client, or a vendor, and ask the user to click on a link, open an attachment, or provide some information.
Phishing attacks will become more varied and sophisticated as the attackers will use AI, ML, more data, techniques, and channels to lure their victims. Veterinary practices should educate their employees and clients on how to identify and avoid phishing attacks, such as by checking the sender, the content, and the links of the emails or messages. They should also use spam filters, email security software, and web browsers that can detect and block phishing attempts. They should also report and delete any suspicious emails or messages they receive.
Data privacy is a basic right and a rising concern for consumers and regulators. The healthcare industry is subject to strict data privacy regulations, such as the GDPR in the EU and the PIPEDA in Canada. These regulations aim to protect personal information and ensure compliance by setting rules and standards for data collection, processing, storage, and sharing. Data privacy regulations are expected to cover more consumer data and become more stringent in the future.
Privacy regulation will become more important and challenging as consumers and regulators will demand more transparency and accountability from the data holders and processors. Veterinary practices should comply with the data privacy regulations that apply to them and respect the rights and preferences of their customers and patients. They should also implement data protection measures, such as encryption, anonymization, and consent management. They should also use data privacy as a competitive advantage and build trust and loyalty with their customers and patients.
Zero-trust is a security model that assumes no one, whether inside or outside the organization, can be trusted by default. It involves implementing multiple layers of security to protect data, networks, and systems rather than relying on a single layer of protection. Zero-trust programs require verifying the identity and context of every request and transaction and granting the minimum level of access and privilege needed. Zero-trust programs are gaining popularity as a security framework as they offer more granular and dynamic security controls.
In 2024, zero-trust programs will become more widespread and essential as the cybersecurity landscape will become more complex and diverse, and the traditional security perimeter will become obsolete. Veterinary practices should adopt a zero-trust program for their cybersecurity and shift from a perimeter-based security model to a more data-centric and user-centric security model. They should also use technologies and tools that support zero trust, such as identity and access management, microsegmentation, and encryption.
Cyber risk quantification
Cyber risk quantification is the process of measuring and communicating the impact and value of cybersecurity investments and initiatives to the business and stakeholders. Cyber risk quantification helps to align cybersecurity with business objectives and priorities, and to justify and optimize cybersecurity spending and resources. Cyber risk quantification also helps to assess and manage cyber risk exposure and resilience and to improve decision making and accountability.
In 2024, cyber risk quantification will become more relevant and useful as cybersecurity risks and opportunities will become more quantifiable and comparable, and the business value and return on investment of cybersecurity will become more evident. Veterinary practices should use cyber risk quantification to enhance their cybersecurity strategy and performance, and to demonstrate their value and contribution to the business. They should also use cyber risk quantification tools and frameworks, such as the FAIR model, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, and the CIS Controls, to standardize and streamline their cyber risk quantification process.
Hacktivism and cyber warfare are forms of cyberattacks that use cyber skills and tools to advance political, social, or ideological agendas or to disrupt and damage adversaries. Hacktivism and cyber warfare can target governments, organizations, or individuals and can have various motives and objectives, such as activism, espionage, sabotage, or propaganda. Hacktivism and cyber warfare are expected to increase as cyber actors use their capabilities to influence and interfere with global events and issues.
Veterinary practices should be aware of the potential threats and impacts of hacktivism and cyber warfare and prepare for possible cyberattacks from various sources and actors. They should also monitor and analyze the cyber threat landscape and intelligence and update and test their incident response and recovery plans.
End Point Security
Endpoint security refers to the protection of the devices that connect to the network, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and printers. Endpoint devices are often the entry point for cyberattacks, as they can be lost, stolen, or compromised by malware or phishing. Endpoint security is expected to become more challenging as the number and diversity of endpoint devices will increase and become more mobile and remote.
Going into 2024, endpoint security will become more important and difficult as the endpoint devices will become more exposed and vulnerable to cyberattacks. Veterinary practices should protect their endpoint devices from cyberattacks and use endpoint security solutions, such as antivirus, firewall, and VPN