Smarter Healthcare,Vulnerable too!

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Hospitals and Clinics are such an important part of human life, simplest of compromises in this sector could prove disastrous to humankind. The sector provides goods and services to treat a human with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care.

However, the recent security breaches in the industry created havoc among the healthcare professionals and cyber security experts alike. The regular occurrence of security breaches has to lead the medical field not to consider cyber security risks as a technology subject, rather a key element that needs active management, and risk mitigation.

Medical data tracking, bedside life support systems, and other medical innovations have changed healthcare delivery drastically in the past few decades. However, the same technological advancement with the latest apps, mobile operating systems, medical devices and sensors (read IoT) created many privacy and security challenges.

Health care centers like hospitals and dental clinics use networks from mobile apps to insulin pumps, storage of patient details and diagnosis reports.

By the use of technology in the medical field, countless lives saved and quality of life over time is also continuously improved, however with network connectivity and Internet enablement; even this sector has become vulnerable to Cyber Attacks.

Medical firms constitute 33% of all the security breaches in the world, and in the US, it is the most impacted sector due to security incidents. HIPAA and other regulatory compliances are very strict in the US, but the challenges from the latest technological developments and the associated risks are ever increasing.

Similar Ransomware attacks to happen in dental offices.Few Hackers target small dental offices because they believe small business do not have sophisticated security devices.

In the US, the HIPAA* act mandates that the health care providers must maintain the privacy of patient health information from abuse.Penalties for violation range from $100-$50,000 per violation.

In India and Middle East region, the relevant regulations are in the making, with stricter controls and penalties.

How to Protect from breaches?

Hackers may use a variety of methods to breaking into health care networks or steal medical data, and similarly, Healthcare IT professionals need to look at multiple ways to keep them away.

It includes all the basic security controls, which are applicable and implemented in any other sector, but configured and customized specifically to the requirements of the industry and the firms, without compromising security.

Here is a list of ten important security best practices that addressed by the relevant teams in the health care industry.

  1. Identify and list down all services and information assets (including IT inventory) and deploy all the basic security controls required for all organizations (Firewalls, Anti-Virus, Backup, Patch Management and Access control, etc).
  2. Identify, Classify, control and monitor the information and prevent any data leakages according to the sensitivity based on the impact. The impacts could be by financial, regulatory, and reputational losses.
  3. Protect the network including wired and wireless. Segment the network, and ensure tighter controls for high-risk areas like cyber interfaces and third party connectivity.
  4. Educate the People about the importance of security best practices and risks –Cover at least Staff and Patients.
  5. Implement and maintain physical security controls, in such a way that only authorized parties can access and manage critical devices and equipment.
  6. Develop and implement mobile device management policy, so that no data breaches or cyber attacks through the mobile channel.
  7. Establish and apply medical and IoT device management policy, so that critical medical equipment are secure from intruders.
  8. Review, control, and monitor all third party connectivity and access, to mitigate the risks through those entry points.
  9. Define and maintain a very comprehensive and 24X7 security monitoring policy; that shall cover the medical devices also.
  10. Ensure that the firm define, implement and test a security incident response plan that is continuously enhanced.

*Health Insurance Portability and Accountability

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