Stay Alert! How To Fight Typosquatting In Healthcare

Nazar

No matter how far automation revolutionizes the IT industry, the human factor is always there, and there may be no other field where the cost of negligence is as high as in healthcare. The nucleus of human inattentiveness in healthcare is typosquatting (aka URL hijacking).Let’s examine why healthcare apps should be extremely vigilant about it, and how you can protect your HealthIT hub without a hitch.

Typosquatting as a Security Threat

Unlike many security breaches, typosquatting attacks are not based on any kind of super-smart fraud schemes or long-thought-out, complicated tricks: their bread and butter is human inattentiveness.A one-second distraction can lead to a typo in a URL address, and voila: you’re in a typosquatting trap of a website, designed to steal all sorts of user data such as log-in, bank credentials, and other private information.

Also read: How to Mitigate Security Risks Associated with Wearables

The tragic nature of typosquatting is not an exclusively individual web-user problem; it is especially undermining for big companies and well-known brands, with healthcare institutions being one of the prime-targets of attackers.One barely noticeable change in the URL address – an extra/missing letter, interchanged similar characters, or a usual (but misleading) extension – may end up causing serious problems and shattering your company’s reputation in the blink of an eye.Let him who would immediately spot a difference between “healthcare.com” and “healhtcare.com” cast the first stone.If the design of the malicious website or app is much the same as your own (which causes no suspicion), there’s a high chance a user will disclose their private info before they realize they’re at an imposter site.

How to Fight Typosquatting

With the advance of digital healthcare, not only do we face the power of wearable devices, user-friendly apps, and unified medical care systems, but also we encounter a necessity to double- and triple-secure these carriers of private data. So what can be done to protect your healthcare website or app from a seemingly ridiculous type of attack?

Leave No Air for an Attacker

First things first: make sure you have “occupied” all the potential holes. This tip is proven by many years of practice and even more cases of non-hacked website/app existence.Once upon a time, a good fairy godmother at Verizon decided to protect all the business-Cinderellas by registering more than 10,000 domain names – a rather costly deed, but totally worth it. Why pay a fortune for domain names you will never use, you may ask?To give a real-life example, think of your teeth: it’s far smarter to pay for an additional dental check-up and prevent decay than suffering in the future when it’s already too late.

There’s always the chance that a hacker may create a site with another version of your company’s name to hijack lost internet users. As an example, be inspired by numerous successful typosquatting lawsuits filed by such big fishes as Gucci, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and many others. But the other side of the coin is the cost of filing a case, and the time it takes to win and implement the court decision.

User Awareness First

Unfortunately, picking all the possible domain names that resemble your existing site is not enough to protect your healthcare website or app from typosquatting. It’s a rampant problem. 2014 witnessed a 30% increase in malicious attempts, proving that the attacks succeed despite vigilance and successful lawsuits – and there’s no single successful preventive tool against it.Since the security of healthcare websites and apps is so critical to people, be aware that there’s no better guard than human themselves who constantly watch for imposters. In addition, increasing user awareness about typosquatting and its dreadful outcomes of private data leakage should be a priority in any company.  Users should know about consequences of typosquatting and stay alert when browsing websites, especially healthcare-related ones, since a lot of critical information is processed through them.

Remember that the biggest issue with typosquatting in healthcare is caused by a user trying to reach a healthcare application or website and making a mistake in the URL. Strengthen the data input sections of your own website by including user awareness information and a mandatory reading of your usage policy, perhaps with a quiz; if possible, include a paragraph about typosquatting in your user agreement to secure your corporate reputation from undesirable consequences. Health is personal, and so is security.

(Nazar Tymoshyk is an IT security and network infrastructure expert. In his role at SoftServe, Inc., Nazar specializes in many security disciplines including computer forensics, malware analysis, intrusion detection, and mobile application security assessments.)