The United States is fighting the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak, but the country’s healthcare systems remain vulnerable to attacks. A study by Palo Alto Networks checked 1.2 million Internet of Things devices in thousands of locations across enterprise IT and healthcare organizations in the United States, and the results are troubling.
It was determined that 83 percent of those devices are running outdated software. A 56 percent majority of those systems are running Windows 7. The remaining 27 percent of outdated systems include Windows XP or older and unsupported versions of Linux.
Microsoft officially stopped supporting Windows 7 in January, but many loyal users and healthcare providers have yet to make the switch to Windows 10 or another platform. It was recently revealed that the now-outdated operating system is maintaining a 25 percent marketshare.
Meanwhile, only 11 percent of systems are running Windows 10 at this time, with another 6 percent split between Linux and Windows 8, which is expected to lose extended support in 2023. This means a majority of the systems that run medical equipment in this country are vulnerable to viruses, malware, and hacking.
Atlas VPN points out that the end of Windows 7 support and the lack of timely upgrades comes at a time where the number of stolen medical records is increasing substantially each year. From 5.1 million in 2017, up to 14 million in 2018, and now 40 million (a 65 percent increase) in 2019.
It’s not all bad news, though. Over 40 percent of healthcare executives claim they are planning to improve cybersecurity in 2020. While systems are critically vulnerable to hacking during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hope is this will only be a temporary problem.