WKRN News 2

‘Goldmine of information’: Meharry Medical College receives $60,000 grant to create program focused on cybersecurity

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Meharry Medical College is hoping to get ahead of cyber security attackers after the university received a $60,000 grant to create a cybersecurity lab and classroom.

“So there are several types of attack actually. Main attack will be from network insight, so an attacker will pass through, spoof some IP address, and then it will have your server. So once they hack the server, then they can get the data, especially information like personal data,” explained Dr. Uttam Ghosh with Meharry Medical College.

Every week, the nation is averaging thousands of cyber attacks which can become costly.

“As a result, healthcare providers or healthcare institutes…they are losing 4.4 million,” Ghosh said.

Earlier this year, a Murfreesboro Medical Clinic was forced to lock down after a cyber attack. It caused the entire system to be reconstructed.

“Attackers [are] also intelligent now. When you’re providing security, you need to consider not only security point of view, you need to consider their point, also how [an] attacker can think and as a security provider, you also need to think your steps,” warned Ghosh.

Now, Meharry Medical College is hoping to get ahead of these “behind the screen” attackers after the school received a $60,000 grant to create a cybersecurity lab and classroom.

Meharry Medical College is a well-known and respected historically Black university. This grant combines diversity with education, fitting with Meharry’s values.

“When we are sharing the data from one university to the other, healthcare providers, if they want to share data using federated learning, we can provide privacy also,” Ghosh said as he spoke further on the need for cybersecurity.

Federated Learning is the type of technology a smartphone uses to predict what word you’re going to use next in a text. Ghosh said it’s important for privacy because no information is shared over a server.

It can be a great tool since data attackers are always looking for personal information, like someone’s name, address, and credit card information.

“So it’s a gold mine of information for these cyber criminals,” explained Edward Stringfellow, CEO of the Stringfellow Technology Group.

A new Health and Human Services analysis found in nearly all hospitals, 96% are operating with critical systems or software programs that have “known vulnerabilities.” Only 53% have a plan to address those vulnerabilities.

“Cyber attacks, they are typically in the systems for months before they launch the attack,” Stringfellow said.

Ghosh explained he is designing a new course, focused on privacy and security within healthcare. The course will be offered in 2024 for PhD students.