Vulnerable Operating System: 5 Preventive Strategies
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In today’s tight labour market, many organizations end up pushing some critical tasks down their list of priorities, and the healthcare sector is no exception. Operating system maintenance often falls by the wayside, which unfortunately affects the efficiency of hospitals, clinics, and health networks.
Here are five consequences of a vulnerable operating system, plus an accessible solution to prevent them.
1. Weakened System Performance
One of the most noticeable daily impacts of a vulnerable operating system is undoubtedly reduced performance. A vulnerable operating system can slow down IT tools, leading to slower care delivery processes.
Overly slow applications can frustrate users, creating extra work for IT teams as they are inundated with troubleshooting requests.
2. Computer or Application Shutdowns
Out of all the consequences of a vulnerable operating system, computer or application shutdowns are likely to have the most widespread impact. Lack of access to data or tools needed for care delivery can lead to service disruptions. Appointments may be postponed or canceled altogether, not to mention the potential impacts on patients’ health.
Evidently, computer or application shutdowns create an urgent workload for the IT team, putting it under intense pressure from users throughout the organization.
It’s no secret that health data is more frequently taken hostage by ransomware than data from other industries, largely because of its confidential nature. While the state of an operating system cannot prevent a cyber attack, its level of vulnerability can affect whether or not the attack is successful.
If the latest patches have not been installed, the healthcare facility is more susceptible to a successful cyber attack. Such an event results in communication crisis management, loss of patient confidence, and, of course, urgent patching where required.
4. Legal Non-Compliance
In Quebec, public bodies are subject to the Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information, which provides for the imposition of fines in certain situations, including confidentiality incidents. A vulnerable operating system increases the risk of legal non-compliance and fines, with all the associated financial and reputational costs that it entails.
It’s best to turn to legal experts rather than health technology to get a better understanding of patching delays to avoid any potential breaches of the Act.
5. Confidential Data Loss
While this consequence appears to be closely related to cyber attacks, it is important to note that confidential data loss is not always due to a cybercriminal’s exploitation of a security breach—it can also result from internal technological accidents.
While proper maintenance of operating systems does not eliminate the risk of such accidents, it can mitigate them. In addition to creating a lot of frustration for users, data loss can lead to lawsuits from partners or even patients.
How to mitigate risks?
The secret to a healthy operating system is the same as for the human body: prevention is better than cure. Proactively applying updates, monitoring servers before certain parameters reach critical thresholds, and managing alerts before problems arise is key to minimizing the risks of the five consequences outlined above.
Examples of parameters that can be proactively monitored with a customizable dashboard and alerts
- % disk space used
- % processor used
- % memory usage
- % database space used
- % Oracle resources used
- % Oracle backup space used
- Database not working
- Backup failure
Partner with an Expert in Operating System Patching
Logibec Managed Services supports healthcare IT teams that are too often overwhelmed by crisis management, multiple digital transformation projects, and increasingly complex deployments. If you are using one or more Logibec solutions, our IT experts are already familiar with many of your technological challenges and are in the best position to support you in patching the servers used by our solutions.