True Healthcare Security Through Integration and Automation

Healthcare Security

Like it or not, we are being pushed headfirst into this era of accelerated digital transformation, and with it the ways in which we do everything are changing rapidly and drastically. Crime has also undergone a “digital makeover” in that the greatest heists are no longer pulled off in the bank vault. Cybercriminals are doing it from the comfort of the living room couch. And as organizations increasingly digitize and distribute data, work from home (and anywhere else), and implement various applications like telehealth to drive business agility, this growth and distribution creates vulnerabilities, or opportunities, for the malicious actor. Over the years, organizations have addressed each threat as it presented itself. One vendor specialized in mail filtering. A different vendor had the best web filter at the time. Another had a good antivirus. Still, another vendor provided your firewall. See where this is going? Or worse still, does it sound familiar?

Though it wasn’t the best approach it was the only approach, as all of these security specialties were still siloed at the time. Though each identified vulnerability may have been addressed individually in this type of solution, there are still security gaps caused by the lack of cohesiveness and communication between the hodgepodge of different applications. This is no different from the obstacles to productivity and efficiency that result from lack of communication between departments, teams, or colleagues in the office. But let’s use another analogy to further emphasize the importance of having a unified, consolidated, fully integrated healthcare security solution.

A Jewelry Store Analogy

jewelry store security

Let’s say you own one of  the nicest fine jewelry stores in town. Since you house millions of dollars in rare gems and precious metals, there are recommended security protocols and preocedures that you must follow to protect such valuable assets. You may have shatter-proof display cases, an alarm system, with sensors at all entry points, interior motion sensors in case they get past the entry point sensors (we call this defense-in-depth, or serial defense), cameras and other surveillance equipment, onsite and offsite security personnel, environmental monitors and controls for fire, flood, or humidity, and notification systems to contact executives, law enforcement, and initiate any planned response to the incident. You will have operational procedures so that employees do not put the company at risk due to lack of training. Just one breakdown in function or communication from any one of these components can be the difference in catching the burglar before he gets away with anything or losing millions in mere minutes (think smash-and-grab). All components must work together seamlessly, and constant, vigilant communication is expected from the physical security service provider as well as the technology (cameras, alarms, sensors) used to safeguard your establishment. One breakdown or oversight in communication could be the difference between a successful heist and the perpetrator being caught before getting away with anything.

poorly integrated healthcare security
slow security response without automation

Chances are you don’t house fine jewelry, but maybe your organization houses and processes credit card data, Protected Health Information (PHI), valuable intellectual property or other sensitive data. This information holds value not just to you, but to those incentivized to come after it. And they won’t come through the front door. They’ll scan and probe until they find a way in, from the couch. This is where the consolidated cyber security fabric comes in. The same level of physical security integration required for the jewelry store is required for your organization, but from a cybersecurity/healthcare security perspective. The first thing that may happen when anyone gets too close to the store after hours would probably be activation of the flood lights. This is a deterrent to the would be robber. By the same token, a deterrent is applied to your system in the form of a banner warning anyone attempting to gain unauthorized access that the system is actively protected and monitored, and that anyone caught attempting a breach will be prosecuted.

So How Does This Relate to Healthcare Security?

Much like the healthcare industry, jewelry stores have been targeted by criminals at a much higher rate over the last few years. Security experts attribute this partly to the fact that most jewelry stores are lacking from a security perspective, making them much more easy and lucrative targets for robbers. Where the jeweler’s value is in the goods, your practice’s value is in the data collected and transferred between healthcare providers. Though not tangible, the data is every bit as valuable, with breaches routinely costing companies millions in losses and fines. But when the actual patient health implications of healthcare security breaches are taken into consideration, the importance of retail security pales in comparison to that of healthcare security. As we can all understand the value of fine jewelry and the importance of protecting it from those who would take it given the opportunity, we can definitely see the importance of patient data protection when these breaches can and have led to loss of life.


More Similar Than You Think

Let’s connect the dots. The jewelry store’s alarm system is no different than your network alerting application, going off at the first sign of breakage or unlawful entry. Their interior motion sensors are there to catch movement once the thief is inside the building, and automatic locks can be initiated to catch and keep them there until authorities get there to arrest them. Your firewall can be segmented in much the same way, so that you can control movement within your network and keep the malicious code in one place (quarantine). This way it doesn’t spread to other machines, and is contained until the “cyberpolice” can clean up the mess. Other methods such as data leak prevention solutions, and least privileges policies are also used along with network segmentation to monitor and control what is already inside the network.

The jewelry store’s surveillance system is its eyes and ears. It reports on everything that you can’t see happening in the store, much like your monitoring and alerting system does for your organization. It allows for playback so you and authorities can see exactly who, what, when, where, and how. In the same way, the logs generated are analyzed by the security team to answer the same five questions. Their onsite security and offsite central command center are your technical support team and IT Security Operations Center (SOC). And just as the jewelry store’s employees and security staff must have training to know how to remain calm and execute the protocol in certain situations, your staff must also be trained on procedures and awareness so they don’t click the wrong link or expose sensitive data. They must also all be trained on appropriate responses and communications in the event of an incident. And all the aforementioned components must be fully integrated and communicating in real-time to effectively protect your organization. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Not to beat you down with cliches, but the moral of the story really is, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In addition to better overall performance, a consolidated, one stop solution with single-pane-of-glass visibility always offers better value than the piecemeal solution with several management consoles and no integration. Think of it as having a 24/7 security service constantly communicating and reporting on your current state, always ready to take immediate action and notify all guards the second something doesn’t look right. Watch the webinar below to see how our partner Fortinet is leading the charge in healthcare security, then Contact us for a Cyber Threat and Performance Assessment. We’ll identify the gaps and help you address them in a unified, value and performance driven fashion. 

Mundell Phillips

Mundell Phillips

Mundell Phillips is CEO of Nutech Solutions LLC. His prior work experiences include over 15 years technical and managerial roles in the private and public health information technology and cybersecurity sectors. Mundell has led the design and implementation of several disaster recovery, performance optimization, security and compliance remediation projects for the proverbial alphabet soup of Government agencies (DOD, VA, DOJ, DOT, etc.). He has now committed his specialized expertise and experience to tailoring those same solutions to healthcare providers and others under HIPAA compliance mandates, helping them to scale up and out through IT solutions and process development and refinement.

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