Southeast National Health Service (NHS) Trust has signed a three-year security deal with healthcare cybersecurity specialist Cylera in an attempt to bolster its cyber defenses.

The agreement comes after two NHS Trust Ambulance services, the South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust, and the South Central Ambulance Service Trust, suffered breaches of their systems which affected staff access to patient records. 

According to research by Israeli cybersecurity provider Checkpoint, healthcare organisations around the world faced a 60% increase in cyberattacks in 2022 compared to 2021. On average there were 1,426 attacks per week.

The Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust hopes the new agreement with Cylera will offer a line of defence and the technology can help manage the trust’s connected medical devices, Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems, and vulnerabilities from a centralised dashboard.

The Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust have 11,000 interconnected medical and IoT devices which are used everyday for in-patient care and building operations. Recent years have seen a mass adoption of new connected devices in the UK NHS, with the number more than doubling from 5,000 to 11,000.

Gary Hickinson, the Head of IT at Dartford, and Gravesham NHS Trust, stressed the importance of digital infrastructure investment to protect patients and improve care. “Investment in our digital infrastructure is fundamental as we continue our drive to provide better care for patients,” said Hickinson. “Solutions such as Cylera enable the trust to have full visibility into all connected medical devices, IoT, and other systems on the network.”

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He added: “We have been working closely with Cylera since 2021. After researching the market and speaking with multiple suppliers, Cylera was the obvious choice. Their solution identified the most vulnerabilities, around 15% more than competitor products. Cylera’s team of experts also understand our digital estate and how we are building for the future and are always on hand when we need them. As our hospital environments become more connected, it’s vital that we have in place the best systems to help protect what matters most – our patients and staff.”