The continuous technological growth and modernization have made the digitalization of healthcare an absolute necessity. However, such a step raises many data security threats. Considering healthcare records’ sensitive and private nature, dealing with these threats has become a primary concern.
Since data is the foundation of contemporary cloud healthcare, security breaches can erode confidence and risk people’s health and lives. The issue of healthcare record security must not be underestimated, as healthcare breaches in 2021 affected around 45 million people globally. The current state of cybersecurity in most healthcare sectors does not suffice for the swarm of potential security threats. Security professionals must implement secure options like Zero Trust network healthcare model to mitigate these risks.
Threats Faced by Healthcare Data
Health care data is subjected to many threats pertinent to the sensitivity of valuable information. Here are the major threats to consider when implementing proper security measures:
The software and devices used by healthcare departments are often outdated and thus subjected to vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can easily be exploited by malicious third parties, allowing them to infiltrate the server and access sensitive data. Malware and ransomware are common examples of such attacks.
Data theft is one of the biggest threats to healthcare data, as this information can lead to blackmail, illegal selling of information, and other malicious activities. Using unsafe networks to share and store data is the major reason behind these attacks.
Data Corruption or Manipulation
Healthcare data is extremely important to ensure patient safety and diagnosis properly. Cyberattacks that result in data corruption and manipulation can have disastrous impacts. When attackers can not extract all the data or are restricted from accessing it due to encryption, they can corrupt or re-encrypt the data, rendering it useless.
Denial of Service
These attackers take control of the healthcare sector’s system by overloading it with requests. After a successful DDoS attack, these criminals often demand ransom for redirecting access.
Internal threats are caused knowingly or unknowingly by employees with access to healthcare assets or data. Insider healthcare or public health threats can be accidental, negligent, or malicious. Such threats often cause data leaks, fraud, or system sabotage.
Measures to Secure Healthcare Data
Protecting healthcare data is of utmost importance. Here are a few measures that can help healthcare sectors secure their data:
Access Management and Control
Not setting proper access and management controls for sensitive data access promotes internal threats and unauthorized data access. These measures limit, authorize and authenticate all users that try to access sensitive information.
Zero Trust Network
The Zero Trust security framework restricts any unauthorized party from accessing the information on an application level rather than a network level. This model is based on the idea that no user or device should be trusted until proper authorization is confirmed. It uses Micro-Segmentation, Identity Governance, and Cloud Privileged Access Management to ensure secure networking in healthcare.
These few elements of the Zero Trust framework can help to secure data healthcare:
- Identify & Access Management
Identity access management allows administrators to limit access based on user roles to prevent data leaks and damages from a cyberattack. Components like SSO and anomaly detection provide added security to healthcare data. It prevents accidental data leaking from unknowing healthcare workers by managing their access.
Another way to authenticate the users requesting access to healthcare data is through multi-factor authentication. The factors used for this authentication are fingerprint confirmation, one-time password (OTP), and others that add multi-layered protection to data access.
- Network Segmentation
Segmentation of the healthcare network offers security by confining potential threats to a specific segment. It should be implemented with the collaboration of healthcare security teams to avoid any interruption in the clinical data flow.
- Network access control
Patient or healthcare data available in the healthcare sector’s resources are not required for every user in the network. Similar is the case with other assets and information. Network access control ensures access and security policies, so only authorized staff can access certain resources.
- Network Protection
Sharing, accessing, or storing healthcare data using unsafe network connections makes it easy for malicious third parties to intercept and steal it. Zero Trust provides network protection solutions that allow healthcare staff to connect securely between servers using the latest encryptions.
It is crucial to ensure that data corruption and manipulation do not halt the healthcare process. One way to do this is by taking measures to properly back up all the data regularly, making it easier to recover from cyberattacks.
Hardware backups are performed on separate system hard drives that are physically stored in a location that is not prone to theft or natural damages. But such a method does not allow the ease of access required for such data.
Cloud services provide data backup options. Combined with a safe Cloud privileged access management, it ensures that all healthcare data is safe and accessible to the person that requires it to perform their jobs.
Older systems and applications are prone to vulnerabilities, which, if exploited, can compromise healthcare data to malicious cybercriminals. Updating systems and authorizing only safe software on devices that access healthcare data can prevent malware and other threats from being introduced into the main server.
These sectors should also focus on better security measures like Secure Assess Service Edge (SASE) solutions that provide threat protections, secure gateways, and Zero Trust Network Access.
Benefits of Healthcare Data Security Measures
Benefits from a proper healthcare data security plan are:
- Verifying user identity, device health, and access policy before they are granted access to network resources.
- Data security against malicious threats like malware, ransomware, and DDoS attacks.
- Data backup to ease the recovery process.
- The invisibility of network traffic and user activity.
- Limited data access on a per-application basis lowers the risk of cyberattacks and damages that these can cause.
- Reduced attack surface due to the implementation of the least privilege policy.
- Ease of data access by authorized personnel remotely, contributing to fast healthcare service.
- Patient private data security against malicious third parties. Maintaining patient trust and integrity.
The healthcare sector is not one to be ignored regarding data security. The data handled by these sectors is extremely sensitive; if stolen, leaked, or corrupted, it can have disastrous impacts on patient lives and the efficiency of healthcare services. Security measures like access management and control, data backup, and system security contribute to a safe and protected healthcare data storage, sharing, and access.
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