Healthcare Risks Point to Rogue Access Points

Rogue Access Points

Healthcare facilities, specifically hospitals, often perform critical, life-saving operations. Technology has developed in a way that it now assists in these operations. And the introduction of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has proven to be mission-critical. However, the reliance on a Wi-Fi connection has left the healthcare industry extremely vulnerable to Evil Twin attacks. And even more worrying is that such attacks go undetected.

Evil Twin

In an Evil Twin attack, a malicious actor creates a rogue access point (AP) that impersonates a legitimate access point (AP) by perfectly spoofing its SSID and BSSID (MAC address). To have users connect to it, the rogue access point will either send stronger signals than the legitimate AP or shut down the legitimate AP and replace it. Unknowingly connected to the rogue AP, the user’s traffic is now exposed to the adversary. This allows further malicious activity. A perpetrator can perform interception, traffic manipulation and man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks to hijack the session and access sensitive information. Evil Twin attacks might even provide the perpetrator with complete control over the entire network. Healthcare entities are an extremely appealing target due to the data collected; healthcare information is highly sought after on the dark web. It brings large financial rewards to the seller.

Vulnerabilities

Attackers will be eager to carry out an Evil Twin attack on healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs). The industry’s increasing dependency on technology means malicious actors can get their hands on an extensive amount of sensitive data. And several industry vulnerabilities increase the chances of a successful attack.

Rogue Access Points

Complex Wi-Fi infrastructure

Research by Zingbox found that there is an average of 10-15 connected medical devices per hospital bed. The importance of internet-connected devices within the healthcare industry has meant that wireless networks are a fundamental component of the healthcare industry. According to Aruba Networks Product Marketing Manager Rick Reid, “In a healthcare setting, the network has to be extremely reliable because it’s literally life or death… Once a hospital moves to that critical communication method you have to make sure it works in the stairwell and it works in the hallways, and you can’t have any dead spots.” This heavy reliance calls for a very complex, interconnected Wi-Fi infrastructure to ensure access is available everywhere.

However, HDOs tend to be expansive facilities, so ensuring coverage over the entire area can be a challenge. Gaps in coverage provide space for rogue access points, configured with the same SSID and BSSID as the legitimate AP. Appearing genuine, users and devices will not hesitate to connect to the rogue AP since it is sending stronger signals.

Rogue Access Points

Public facilities

The initiation of an Evil Twin attack requires relatively close proximity between the rogue and the target network so that the rogue AP gets detected. HDOs are open to all members of the public, meaning the perpetrator can easily achieve this. Importantly, gaining control over the network is simpler when the network is public, as is the case in many HDOs’ infrastructure. Even with a password restriction, the relevant credentials are typically openly displayed to enable easy access for patients and visitors.

Lack of cybersecurity

As an industry that performs life-saving operations, patient safety is the priority for HDOs. Not only does this mean cybersecurity is an afterthought, but it is sometimes even considered a hindrance to operations. It is, therefore, no surprise that the healthcare industry lacks good cyber hygiene practices. Foremost, connecting to an AP will be done without a second thought due to employee negligence. As rogue access points perfectly spoof the legitimate AP, it is almost impossible for staff members to detect the illegitimacy of rogue access points. Moreover, research by Forescout found that security measures such as encryption and network segmentation are insufficient in hospitals, with many IoTs connected to the same network as critical IoMTs. Without these security measures, an Evil Twin attack can cause substantial damage.

Sepio Systems’ Solution

With Sepio Systems’ Hardware Access Control solution (HAC-1), HDOs can be sure that they will not fall victim to an Evil Twin attack. By constantly monitoring and analyzing all wireless communication in real-time through Machine Learning, HAC-1 identifies all devices operating within the enterprise’s environment, including MAC-spoofed devices which otherwise go undetected. HAC-1’s policy enforcement mechanism allows the solution to instantly detect suspicious connections and trigger a mitigation process through integrated Network Access Control products.

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