Trustwave Unveils New Offerings to Maximize Value of Microsoft Security Investments. Learn More

Trustwave Unveils New Offerings to Maximize Value of Microsoft Security Investments. Learn More

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Managed Detection & Response

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Maximize your SIEM investment, stop alert fatigue, and enhance your team with hybrid security operations support.

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Advisory & Diagnostics

Advance your cybersecurity program and get expert guidance where you need it most.

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Penetration Testing

Test your physical locations and IT infrastructure to shore up weaknesses before exploitation.

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Database Security

Prevent unauthorized access and exceed compliance requirements.

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Email Security

Stop email threats others miss and secure your organization against the #1 ransomware attack vector.

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Digital Forensics & Incident Response

Prepare for the inevitable with 24/7 global breach response in-region and available on-site.

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Firewall & Technology Management

Mitigate risk of a cyberattack with 24/7 incident and health monitoring and the latest threat intelligence.

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How the Intersection of Technology and Patient Care Creates Security Challenges

The digital transformation of healthcare, involving patients, staff, doctors, and technology, presents significant challenges to security teams in terms of skills and capacity.

This challenge can be seen in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights which reported 609 data breaches with more than 500 records being compromised in 2021. Although the number of these breaches was down 7% compared to 2020, the number of complaints received by the agency was up 25%, hitting 34,077.

One of the reasons behind this surge in cyberattacks is the rapid pace of digital transformation has outpaced the implementation of effective security controls in the healthcare sector, leaving vulnerabilities for malicious actors to exploit.
The proliferation of interconnected Internet of Things (IoT) devices and modern medical equipment designed to enhance patient care has expanded the attack surface, enabling cybercriminals to take advantage of these vulnerabilities. Recognizing the severity of the threat, the FBI has recently issued recommendations specifically aimed at safeguarding medical devices.

While there are protective and preventive measures that can be implemented, achieving resilience is not guaranteed. To accomplish this, healthcare organizations must strike a balance between patient health and data protection, moving away from outdated security practices and keeping pace with ongoing innovation. Establishing a strong partnership between the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and executive leadership is crucial for hospitals and healthcare facilities to successfully navigate digital resilience.

The rise of telehealth services and healthcare IoT technology has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with adoption rates soaring from 11 percent in 2019 to 46 percent in 2022. However, these advancements have also expanded the threat surface for hospitals. It's not just telehealth that contributes to this expanded surface; all types of medical facilities rely on a range of IoT technologies, such as robotic surgical devices, glucose or heart rate monitors, automated insulin delivery systems, and automated medical dispensers. While these technologies improve accessibility to healthcare services, they also provide attackers with multiple entry points into a hospital's computer ecosystem.

To address these challenges, hospitals must implement proactive and predictive organizational risk assessment and management techniques tailored to their specific environments. What works for a university hospital system may not be suitable for an urgent care facility or a local doctor's office. By securing the entire perimeter of a hospital or healthcare organization, security teams can reduce redundancy in cybersecurity controls, mitigate critical risks, and promptly notify relevant teams about security threats, whether they originate from within or outside the organization, such as third-party insurers and suppliers.

A team-oriented mentality is vital for healthcare security. It is important to ensure that security programs prioritize the protection of patient data while delivering high-quality patient care. These controls should also comply with HIPAA standards to restrict access to authorized individuals only. However, many healthcare security practitioners fall into the trap of merely going through a checklist without truly understanding the specific risks associated with the technologies used in their daily operations and patient services. To mitigate risks effectively, these goals should be communicated not only to IT teams and staff but also to affiliates and vendors in the network to eliminate security gaps.

Email remains a primary avenue for threat actors to gain unauthorized access to networks across various industries. It is crucial to educate employees about the fact that technology alone cannot guarantee security. Ongoing security awareness and education for staff and patients are essential to address the latest trends in successful compromises of business and targeted personal email accounts. Individuals are increasingly targeted through texts impersonating executives and influential personnel. Predictive risk management can help identify weaknesses in a hospital's network, including both people and technologies, leading to a unified cyber strategy and increased visibility across the entire IT environment.

It is important to acknowledge that human behaviour remains one of the biggest threats to an organization's security. To minimize inherent security weaknesses introduced by human error, healthcare organizations should implement access controls such as multi-factor authentication or biometrics to add an additional layer of defence. Additionally, strong cybersecurity training for all employees is crucial to detect unusual email requests. Relying solely on internal IT departments or external vendors for cybersecurity is insufficient. The goal should be to build a more resilient team while reducing inherent internal and external risks through robust cybersecurity training.

The future of medical data security will be shaped by the ongoing shift of hospitals and healthcare providers toward cloud-based data storage. This necessitates adopting a security-first mindset across the entire organization. Like other industries, healthcare should consider implementing a zero-trust approach, which reduces the attack surface and enables accurate response automation to prevent compromises. With zero-trust security, users are authenticated, authorized, and validated each time they request access to information, regardless of their location in the network.

To ensure the effectiveness of security measures against active threats, organizations should conduct both virtual and in-person penetration testing. These tests ensure that criminals cannot gain physical or digital entry to obtain sensitive information or conduct future cyberattacks. By testing staff responses and assessing system and network security capabilities, organizations can gain actionable insights into any remaining areas of weakness.

The future of healthcare security relies on the ability of organizations to align patient privacy and compliance standards with the constantly evolving technology landscape. As accessibility and capabilities expand and the healthcare industry continues to modernize its practices, organizations must remain agile in their cybersecurity approach. This includes implementing a robust data management plan, providing regular training and penetration testing, and continuously educating employees about the latest threats. Safeguarding sensitive patient data will require a collaborative effort to ensure the safety and security of healthcare organizations.

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