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5 Best Cybersecurity Practices for the Healthcare Industryby@indusface
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5 Best Cybersecurity Practices for the Healthcare Industry

by IndusfaceFebruary 17th, 2022
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In 2021, data breaches in the healthcare industry were the costliest, with an average cost of USD 9.23 million. Cybersecurity in healthcare industry is vital. This article discusses five key cybersecurity best practices to strengthen cybersecurity in healthcare. Ongoing risk assessment enables healthcare organizations to harden their security posture and avert costly data breaches. The increasing use of IoT devices such as smart elevators, HVAC systems, remote patient monitoring systems, etc., has led to the creation of connected IoT infrastructures. Any attack on IoT devices has devastating impacts on the entire operation of the healthcare organization.
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Cybercriminals have highly targeted the healthcare industry over the years. In 2021, data breaches in the healthcare industry were the costliest, with an average cost of USD 9.23 million, while the pan-industry average was USD 4.24 million. The costs include the financial losses permeating the downtimes, the hefty legal costs, and massive reputational damage. This is one of the critical reasons cybersecurity in the healthcare industry is vital.


However, ensuring effective cybersecurity for healthcare organizations is not an easy feat. This article discusses five key best practices to strengthen cybersecurity in the healthcare industry.


Cybersecurity in Healthcare Industry: 5 Best Practices


1. Ongoing Risk Assessments Are Indispensable

Aside from being a compliance necessity, ongoing security risk assessments are foundational requirements for any robust cybersecurity program. These assessments do not just identify security risks but prioritize them based on the exploitability of vulnerabilities, the probability of attacks, and their potential impact on business-critical assets

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While compliance frameworks require risk assessments to be done at least once a year, we believe ongoing risk assessments are indispensable. Why? Ongoing risk assessment enables healthcare organizations to identify vulnerabilities, understand their exploitability based on the threat landscape and attack probability, and allocate their resources based on the risks facing different assets, thus, keeping mission-critical assets secure and always available.


In other words, ongoing risk assessments enable healthcare organizations to harden their security posture and avert costly data breaches.


2. Implement Role-Based Access Controls and Strong Authentication

To ensure cybersecurity in the healthcare industry, organizations must keep their applications and large volumes of healthcare data protected, including physical patient records. To this end, they must enforce robust role-based access controls.


Further, implement strict data usage controls to block specific actions such as sending unauthorized emails, copying data to external drives, printing, web uploads, etc. Use continuous logging and monitoring to flag and block unauthorized access and usage in real-time.


Organizations must enforce strong password policies and multi-factor authentication to prevent threat actors, including malicious insiders, from gaining access to mission-critical assets, important applications, or privileged data.


A zero-trust policy must be followed, and users must access and use only those applications and records/ information necessary for their daily operations based on their role and needs.


3. Establish Strong IoT and Mobile Security Controls


The increasing use of IoT devices such as smart elevators, HVAC systems, remote patient monitoring systems, etc., has led to the creation of connected IoT infrastructures. Any attack on IoT devices has devastating impacts on the entire operation of the healthcare organization. Since patient systems are connected to this connected IoT infrastructure, attacks could also be life-threatening.


Some critical measures to ensure strong IoT and mobile security:


  • Create robust frameworks and strategies for IoT and mobile security management

  • Connect IoT devices to segregated networks and do not allow IoT devices to initiate network connections

  • Continuously monitor the activities of mobile and IoT devices, detect patterns in behavior and use, flag suspicious activity and block unauthorized activities in real-time with WAF

  • Establish a strong identity and access controls for IoT, mobile, and cloud-based devices • Keep all devices updated as updates contain critical security patches

  • Ensure that the security solution covers IoT and mobile devices in its scope, providing round-the-clock, effective security


Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., have become a norm in the healthcare industry like every other industry. Doctors, nurses, insurers, administrative workers, and even patients leverage mobile devices for their everyday activities.


4. Encryption and Backups Are Non-Negotiable

Encryption: Healthcare data must always be encrypted, whether in storage or transit. This way, even if the data is being shared outside the organization’s secure networks, it will be secure from unauthorized access, modifications, or deletions by attackers. Even if they manage to gain access, it will be difficult for attackers to decipher the encrypted data.


Backups: Attacks lead to sensitive data exposure and can compromise the integrity or availability of data. Even a natural disaster affecting a data center could have devastating consequences for the organization if the data is not backed. As a result, regular backups at offshore locations combined with offline restoration techniques are important to minimize the impact and damage of attacks, ensuring business continuity.


5. Continuous and Effective User Education

The human element impacts cybersecurity in the healthcare industry; even minor human errors have mammoth consequences. That is why the security education of all healthcare staff is non-negotiable.


Users must be equipped to apply caution when handling sensitive information, make smart decisions, and report/ take necessary action if they observe unusual activities.


Conclusion

Given the increasingly sophisticated threat landscape and growing security risks facing organizations, the importance of cybersecurity in healthcare cannot be insisted enough. Following the best practices and using a strong security solution are ways to harden cybersecurity in the healthcare industry.