Putting People at the Center: Three Ways the Healthcare Industry Can Proactively Prevent Cyberattacks
Cybersecurity in healthcare—like the healthcare industry itself—is all about people, not the doctor’s office. And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and telemedicine, patients are looking for more control and improved health outcomes, which is driving the industry beyond the four walls of the typical medical setting. In 2020 alone, telehealth is expected to grow a staggering 65 percent. A broader healthcare security strategy must focus on people—the ways they work and the ways protected health information is stored and sent when providing care.
Health data now flows well beyond brick and mortar healthcare organizations opening the door for cybercriminals to steal data, exploit medical device vulnerabilities, siphon funds, and even lock systems for ransom. Advancements in wearable medical devices, electronic health records, cloud-based data storage, and an avalanche of mobile health apps are also transforming diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring.
Accustomed to the service and convenience of Amazon, Uber, and Instacart, people expect digital technology to improve their care experience. They understandably want the same flexibility when it comes to their healthcare providers, which significantly increases overall security risk. Below are three ways the healthcare industry can safeguard systems and their patients as they move towards an interconnected, technology-powered ecosystem.
Threat prevention is better than the cure
Securing healthcare environment used to be far more straightforward. All network devices were centrally located and controlled and traditional perimeter-based security was a reasonable approach. Fast forward to today and providers, insurers, and a numerous digital devices are necessary to successfully coordinating care. That means security must now extend beyond the hospital’s natural borders, especially with email, social media, and a multitude of mobile devices.
When it comes to securing the connected healthcare environment, prevention is better than a cure. In fact, more than 90% of advanced cyberattacks start with an email and most actually need human interaction to be successful. As the top threat vector, email delivers zero-day threats, ransomware, advanced malware, weaponized documents, and credential phishing attacks. And unfortunately, by the time a healthcare organization detects a threat in their system, it is already active in their environment—hurting personnel, stealing data, and tarnishing their brand.
It’s critical that healthcare organizations stop email-based threats before employees even gets the chance to click and infect themselves. To defend against these people-based threats, hospitals and healthcare facilities need to understand who within their organizations are being targeted and invest the three vital areas:
- A dedicated advanced email security gateway with data loss prevention (DLP) protection to stop threats from reaching healthcare personnel. Security teams need visibility into their most targeted people and the ability to enact strict cybersecurity policies to understand if, when, and how data is being exfiltrated. Look for a solution that works in the flow of email and analyzes suspicious and URLs using static and dynamic techniques across multiple stages of an attack. It should capture advanced threats and record the patterns, behaviors, and tradecraft as well.
- Healthcare workers also collaborate using personal health information (PHI) all the time and more often than not, they send it unencrypted through email. Protecting patients and their trust means preventing, blocking, and resolving threats that target that data.
- Because attacks overwhelmingly aimed at specific people, it’s crucial to conduct continuous security awareness training for every employee with access to the system. Employee training will empower users to recognize and report suspicious emails and provide guidance on how to proactively alert the security team.
- And finally, facilities should deploy an email validation system called Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) to detect and prevent email spoofing. DAMRC helps stop attackers from using sender addresses that appear to come from legitimate healthcare organizations, which can significantly reduce email fraud risk.
Very few industries have a more critical mission, more sensitive data, or complex operations than healthcare. These three proactive measures help improve patient access, improve outcomes, and streamline costs as healthcare organizations continue their digital evolution. In order to foster ongoing transformation, healthcare organizations need to safeguard against today’s advanced threats and compliance risks while stopping cyber attacks before they reach clinical teams.