A 2 Prong Strategy for Healthcare Security – Going Beyond Compliance

Posted on November 7, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As if our security senses weren’t on heightened alert enough, I think all of us were hit by the recent distributed denial of service attacks that took down a number of major sites on the internet. The unique part of this attack was that it used a “botnet” of internet of things (IoT) devices. It’s amazing how creative these security attacks have become and healthcare is often the target.

The problem for healthcare is that too many organizations have spent their time and money on compliance versus security. Certainly, compliance is important (HIPAA Audits are real and expensive if you fail), but just because you’re compliant doesn’t mean you’re secure. Healthcare organizations need to move beyond compliance and make efforts to make their organizations more secure.

Here’s a 2 prong strategy that organizations should consider when it comes to securing their organization’s data and technology:

Build Enough Barriers
The first piece of every healthcare organization’s security strategy should be to ensure that you’ve created enough barriers to protect your organization’s health data. While we’ve seen an increase in targeted hacks, the most common attacks on healthcare organizations are still the hacker who randomly finds a weakness in your technology infrastructure. Once they find that weakness, they exploit it and are able to do all the damage.

The reality is that you’ll never make your health IT 100% secure. That’s impossible. However, if you create enough barriers to entry, you’ll keep out the majority of hackers that are just scouring the internet for opportunities. Building the right barriers to entry means that most hackers will move on to a more vulnerable target and leave you alone. Some of these barriers might be a high quality firewall, AI security, integrated mobile device security, user training, encryption (device and in transit), and much more.

Building these barriers has to be ingrained into your culture. You can’t just change to a secure organization overnight. It needs to be deeply embedded into everything you do as a company and all the decisions you make.

Create a Mitigation and Response Strategy
While we’d like to dream that a breach will never occur to us, hacks are becoming more a question of when and not if they will happen. This is why it’s absolutely essential that healthcare organizations create a proper mitigation and response strategy.

I recently heard about a piece of ransomware that hit a healthcare organization. In the 60 seconds from when the ransomware hit the organization, 6 devices were infected before they could mitigate any further spread. That’s incredible. Imagine if they didn’t have a mitigation strategy in place. The ransomware would have spread like wildfire across the organization. Do you have a mitigation strategy that will identify breaches so you can stop them before they spread?

Creating an appropriate response to breaches, infections, and hacks is also just as important. While no incident of this nature is fun, it is much better to be ahead of the incident versus learning about it when the news story, patient, or government organization comes to you with the information. Make sure you have a well thought out strategy on how you’ll handle a breach. They’re quickly becoming a reality for every organization.

As healthcare moves beyond compliance and focuses more on security, we’ll be much better positioned to protect patients’ data. Not only is this the right thing to do for our patients, it’s also the right thing to do for our businesses. Creating a good security plan which prevents incidents and then backing that up with a mitigation and response strategy are both great steps to ensuring your organization is prepared.

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