Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

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If Congress can’t reach a deal this weekend on government funding, cybersecurity in the health care sector could suffer.

How much suffering would depend on how long a shutdown lasts. But so long as it does, more than 80 percent of workers at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the nation’s cyber defense agency, would stay home, reports POLITICO’s Maggie Miller.

Only 571 CISA employees out of more than 3,100 agency personnel will stay on if the government shuts down when federal appropriations laws expire Saturday at midnight.

CISA’s health care role: The agency, part of the Homeland Security Department, works with the private sector to shore up cyber defenses, identify threats and respond to attacks.

The agency has prioritized protecting hospitals, given the potential public health risk if a hack shuts down computer systems.

State of play: The breaching of Americans’ personal health data exploded in the first half of 2023, according to a POLITICO analysis of Department of Health and Human Services data.

Health care entities reported more than 330 breaches affecting 41.4 million people.

Why it’s happening: Ransomware that denies access to health sector computers is lucrative for cybercriminals because provider organizations can feel compelled to pay the hackers to continue giving care.

The targets grow as the sector modernizes and health data goes increasingly digital.

This is where we explore the ideas and innovators shaping health care.

Let them eat fries! Annoyed by press coverage of poverty, the Austrian chancellor noted recently that poor families can get reasonably priced meals at McDonald’s including a burger and fries for under $4.

Share any thoughts, news, tips and feedback with Carmen Paun at [email protected], Daniel Payne at [email protected], Evan Peng at [email protected] or Erin Schumaker at [email protected].

Send tips securely through SecureDrop, Signal, Telegram or WhatsApp.

Today on our Pulse Check podcast, host Katherine Ellen Foley talks with Daniel about key takeaways from POLITICO’s “Mission Update: Inside the Cancer Moonshot” live event.

Manufacturing a fully functional human heart in one hour sounds like technology for a distant age, but the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health has hopes for the near term.

The agency is providing up to $26 million to a program led by Stanford University called HEART for Health Enabling Advancements through Regenerative Tissue Printing.

It aims to mitigate the U.S. organ transplant shortage by printing organs on demand.

While ambitious, the project aligns with the agency’s mission of championing high-risk, high-reward health research, according to Paul Sheehan, ARPA-H program manager.

“The project represents exactly the kind of challenging and impactful topics ARPA-H is looking to support,” Sheehan said in a statement. “Multiple technology advances will be necessary for this project’s success, a success that could dramatically improve the lives of patients who would otherwise be on transplant wait lists.”

Why it matters: There’s a critical need for more human organs. About 100,000 people in the U.S. are on the national waitlist for an organ transplant, and at least 17 people die each day waiting for one.

Even so: The researchers need to advance several technologies before on-demand, 3D-organ printing could become a reality, including speeding up 3D printing, advancing computational modeling, improving cell purity and developing better tissue maturation methods.

The Federal Trade Commission wants to hear about your research on health data privacy.

The FTC is calling for research presentations for its annual privacy and data security-focused PrivacyCon, to be held on March 6. The free event will be held virtually.

Health-related surveillance is a specific focus area for the 2024 event, along with several artificial intelligence-centered topics.

The FTC’s callout specifies that the research should be empirical with rigorous economic analyses.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 6.

Why it matters: The FTC launched a broad crackdown this year on companies it says abuse their access to patient data, using the agency’s authority to police unfair and deceptive practices.

The agency has also cited its health breach notification rule, which says that entities that collect personal, identifiable health information and aren’t covered by the federal health data privacy law, HIPAA, must tell consumers when they’ve had a data breach.

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