Healthcare has evolved into a system where nearly everything is connected through digital technologies to improve the way services are delivered to patients.
The pandemic has accelerated how data and processes are used, forcing the world to adapt rapidly to this change. However, healthcare’s ability to protect patient privacy in this new digital age is questionable, hence the need for improved cybersecurity in healthcare.
Why is cybersecurity important in healthcare?
The extremely sensitive ePHI (electronically protected health information) is constantly at risk. This data is handled by almost every hospital, clinic, and doctor’s surgery in various digital systems. Physicians and pharmacists regularly use EHRs (electronic health records) and other software working with medical information, which can prove a lucrative hunting ground for cybercriminals looking for sensitive data.
Cybersecurity threats in healthcare
Here are the top cybersecurity threats healthcare providers should consider when improving cybersecurity measures:
A phishing attack is a social engineering method where an attacker sends a fraudulent message or email designed to trick a person into revealing private or personal information.
Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks
A MITM attack is when hackers insert themselves into data transfers or conversations and steal confidential information, which can prove very lucrative for cybercriminals.
Attacks on network vulnerabilities
Address resolution protocol cache poisoning (ARP), HTTPS spoofing and other criminal activity target the core of medical centres to provide hackers with access to patient information.
Ransomware is a type of malware that stops users from accessing their entire system or personal files, and a ransom payment is demanded in order to regain access.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a set of guidelines for transferring patient information among healthcare providers.
The HIPAA Security Rule requires businesses, and all associates, to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of protected health information (PHI), which also includes the usage of electronic and physical access control.
HIPAA and similar regulations require healthcare providers to have a workable data protection strategy. Regular risk assessments and the use of cybersecurity frameworks (CSFs) are key to improving cybersecurity in healthcare. They provide guides that help healthcare providers reduce cybersecurity risks and maintain the data management process. The NIST Framework provides a robust guide.
Improving cybersecurity in healthcare
There has been an influx of attacks carried out on healthcare facilities, and the damage at the hands of ransomware has increased ten-fold. In light of this, let’s take a closer look at what providers can do to protect patient data from cybercriminals and how they can improve cybersecurity in healthcare.
Here are some of the safety measures that can be taken in the medical world to secure ePHI by protecting devices, digital systems, networks, and data:
- Personnel training
The first and most important part of improving cybersecurity in healthcare is by educating workers on IT security. This includes ensuring that they are able to recognise phishing emails, be able to back-up data with strict controls and data encryption, and regularly use digital hygiene practices.
- Data usage control
Healthcare providers should be able to control and monitor malicious file activity. They can do this by implementing systems that block unauthorised actions, prevent the sharing of unauthorised emails, prohibit the ability to copy to external sources, etc.
- Monitoring of mobile and connected devices
Mobile phones, apps and IoMT devices have become standard practice for doctors and administrative personnel. However, this is one of the top security vulnerabilities in healthcare. Hackers can easily break into connected devices, eavesdrop, and even reconfigure them. It’s, therefore, important to create a separate network for IoMT devices and ensure there are multi-factor authentication protocols and encryptions used and software is updated regularly.
Managing risk in healthcare
According to Deloitte, the following approaches should be taken by healthcare providers:
As interest in and focus on information security and privacy threats have grown, organisations have acquired more resources to identify these risks. However, their ability to address the “visibility bubble” of risks remains limited. Organisations need to re-examine their risk management processes, including the concept of risk tolerance. Understanding risk tolerance and associated guardrails will be important as organisations experiment with new ways to engage consumers and deliver health and wellness services.
Digital identity management
As the number of connected devices grows, healthcare system access and identity management become more complex—and the user experience more important. It will be critical for an organisation to provide a seamless access experience across multiple tools or platforms by leveraging flexible, next-generation forms of authentication that leverage behaviour analysis and machine learning to grant access versus relying on static and defined roles.
Therefore, more cost, time, and risk-effective approaches to the digital identity management of people, emerging new solutions like bots, the growing number of devices, and certificates will play an essential role in the success of the future of health.
Third-party risk management
Ecosystems and alliances will also play a pivotal role in this new future. In this fast-paced environment of innovation and solution development, collaboration, not a siloed and solo approach, will drive success. But as these partnerships expand to provide new digital services, so can the risks and challenges. Associated third parties and contractors need to be effectively managed by life sciences and healthcare organisations.
Traditional ways of collecting and sharing information will no longer be feasible and effective for managing third parties. Organisations will have to adopt technologies and innovative solutions to streamline the process of identifying, analysing, and monitoring third parties to allow data-driven decision-making and risk analysis to improve cybersecurity in healthcare providers.
RiskXchange and cybersecurity in healthcare
RiskXchange can help organisations of all sizes improve cybersecurity in healthcare. Mitigating modern cyberattacks requires sophisticated solutions that can help monitor networks in real time and detect anomalies that indicate a cyber breach.
This is where attack surface management (ASM) solutions become integral for cybersecurity in healthcare. Using automated technology, ASM platforms continuously monitor internet assets to give complete visibility into an attack surface of a healthcare provider.
Expanding the supply chain requires more sophisticated solutions to monitor third-party vendors in real time. Vendor risk rating solutions can fulfil this requirement by turning vendor risk management into a more quantitative, data-driven process.
Vendor risk rating solutions make it easy to mitigate cyber risk by providing validated, actionable intelligence to empower IT teams to address areas of risk.
With healthcare IT systems expanding across locations, platforms, and devices, automating vendor security processes as a part of health industry cybersecurity practices is key for a more resilient approach to modern cyberattacks.
Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about improving cybersecurity in healthcare.