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Monday 26 June 2017
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Elements of A Strong Healthcare IT Security Strategy

A report released by Reuters in 2014 stated that your sensitive health information is 10 times more valuable to hackers than your credit card information on the black market.

Also, a recent KPMG cyber-security report revealed that most of healthcare executives agree that their IT security has been compromised in the past two years. Regardless of the legal and regulatory consequences of a data breach, the KPMG report argued that the healthcare industry is not doing enough to address cyber-security threats.

The vulnerability of patient’s critical data is on the rise, and healthcare executives are struggling to safeguard patient records. A key goal for all healthcare executives is to enhance the security measures in their institutions to create obstacles for cyber-criminals. The key to implementing and advancing that protection is a cohesive, coordinated strategy in healthcare IT security.

IT security experts have come to an agreement that healthcare organizations are experiencing greater cyber-threats because of the following reasons:

  • Increased adoption of digital patient records and automated clinical systems.
  • Traditional electronic medical records and clinical applications which were not designed for today’s networked environments.
  • Internal and external distribution of protected health information.
  • The diverse nature of networked systems and applications used in the healthcare industry.
  • The ever-worsening threat landscape, which complicates cyber-attacks, and the value of personal health information on the black market.

The study conducted by KPMG also revealed that the following reasons lead to vulnerabilities in healthcare data security:

  • External hackers
  • Third-party data sharing
  • Wireless computing
  • Employee theft and breaches
  • Weak firewalls

In addition to that, the leading IT security concerns in healthcare organizations include:

  • Malware infections in their systems
  • Compromised privacy
  • HIPAA violations
  • Internal employee risks like negligence and theft
  • Medical device security
  • Traditional IT hardware

Threats against healthcare information are growing every day, but not all organizations are willing to spend much in order to secure this information. Sometimes healthcare organizations face very little profits because of the regulatory enforcement and litigation issues. Healthcare organizations have a lot of challenges when it comes to investing. They tend to focus on healthcare delivery before securing their data.

According to the KPMG, only 13% of healthcare organizations tracked more than 350 hacking attempts, an average of one per day. 38% tracked 50 to 350 attacks, and 44% tracked less than 50 attacks in the past 12 months.

Additionally, healthcare organizations lack comprehensive incident response capabilities, which lead to underreporting of information security threats. Most of the organizations are compromised and fail to know that. In addition, some of these institutions lack the ability to track cyber-attacks in real time.

Insurance companies consider themselves ready against any cyber-attack, but not all healthcare providers show that level of confidence. This is because not many healthcare organizations have employees tasked to handle matters concerning IT security. Also, very few healthcare organizations have a security operations center, which is a primary component of robust security strategy.

The following are the elements of an effective healthcare IT security strategy

  • Integrating cyber-security in the technology and network architecture upfront, through a strategic design. Information technology has evolved into interconnectivity, and this has led to inadequate controls. Therefore, healthcare organizations need to redesign and rebuild their entire IT security plans.
  • A well-prepared and coordinated IT security team and a security operations center. Healthcare organizations also need information security leader, instant monitoring capabilities and the ability to manage data breaches and communicate with relevant parties.
  • Increased IT security awareness and capabilities at all levels. Healthcare executives need to be fully aware of cyber-risks and security. Board members are required to help out in this as well.
  • Viewing the organization broadly when implementing IT security strategies. Healthcare organizations become extended value chains when they integrate all other business partners in their operations. However, third parties tend to have a lot of risks when in regards to IT security. So, those risks must be identified and addressed.