Five Tips to Make Your Healthcare Infrastructure More Secure

Would you leave a USB device out without protecting it? What about a wallet? A purse? The answer is obvious: of course you wouldn’t.

Yet too often in healthcare IT, that’s exactly what professionals do—potentially vital information is available in ways that are not fully secure. The problem? An evolving, robust plan to secure information – and to handle potential breaches when they inevitably do happen.

It’s one thing to institute a new policy for healthcare IT. But paying lip service isn’t enough. You have to integrate actionable, realistic layers of security. Here are some tips on creating a plan that we think can be implemented and successful:

Tip #1: Train Your Employees with Better Security Habits

It starts at the human level. Your employees need the knowledge, know-how, and most importantly, better habits that make data breaches increasingly rare. They also need a thorough understanding of their responsibilities for protecting vital healthcare data.

What do better security habits for employees look like? Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Securing mobile devices Mobile devices are chock-full of information. They’re also easy to leave laying around. recommends having employees require passwords or user identification for mobile devices, installing and enabling encryption, and enabling remote disabling in the event of a breach.
  • Regular training and HIPAA education Employees need to be up-to-date on HIPAA privacy and security rules, to keep these issues fresh in employees’ minds.
  • KISS. “Keep it simple, stupid” One manager tried a simple test: leaving out an unguarded USB to see how employees would react. Simple training exercises can have a tremendous impact on your employees and how they approach healthcare information.
  • Simulate disaster recovery scenarios Simulate a major cybersecurity breach and put specific steps and plans of action on paper. Doing so will help your employees identify weak spots in their current IT security protocols.

Your technology can do a lot to keep your healthcare IT more secure, it’s true. But ultimately, it’s the people you work with that are equally important in cybersecurity. Their training, knowledge, and experience will directly affect the quality of your cybersecurity. Invest in them, and they’ll reward you with a better, more secure infrastructure.

Tip #2: Employ Medical Device Discovery and Threat Detection

Today’s medical devices are often digital. Unfortunately, that opens them up to remote hacking threats and security breaches. As medical devices come under increasing attack from ransomware and other cybersecurity threats, these threats have the potential to put patients’ health in danger.

Your job: prevent a disaster like this before it happens.

The risk is only increasing. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, the value of connected medical devices is expected to increase from $10 billion to $50 billion by the year 2027. As connected medical devices proliferate, the more vital healthcare information goes into them. With that value—and vital information— come the security threats.

The time to react isn’t in 2027. It’s now. Adopt a proactive approach to identifying threats. Go to services like Medigate, which has the largest medical device and protocol database with detailed device inventories and the most accurate threat detection available. Medigate’s CORE technology, for example, alerts you to any anomalies that enter the system, to connect with confidence.

Tip #3: Integrate Zero Trust Network Access

What is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)? This is a boundary-creating service building security around a specific application. “Zero trust” can add some friction to legitimate logins, true. That’s the idea behind zero trust: every person logging in has to continually verify their ID. However, the advantage of this friction is in introducing roadblocks to anyone trying to gain critical healthcare IT access. ZTNA can shut them out.

The key here: preventing “lateral movement” across a healthcare IT network. ZTNA helps prevent someone with a master key into your systems from exploring every other aspect of that system. Someone who successfully breaches your security in one way is blocked when they try to access other vital information.

Consider Aruba Clearpass for Secure Network Access Control. This security system makes accommodations for remote workers and the Internet of Things (IoT) while introducing cybersecurity protections for critical healthcare information. ClearPass also works in conjunction with Medigate.

Tip #4: Update Policies and Your Emergency Response Plan

Dwight D. Eisenhower once suggested that while plans are sometimes worthless, planning is essential. What does this mean, exactly? It means the act of planning is indispensable, even if you sometimes have to throw out the playbook. The act of planning is what prepares you to identify weak spots in your emergency response protocols.

For starters, update your policies. Examine your current policies and scan for potential updates with the previous three tips in mind.

Consider a comprehensive new security plan that encompasses the following factors:

  • Data management—data type, compliance, day-to-day data management habits and automation. Data management helps instill best practices for maintaining high levels of security, to lower overall risks.
  • Security backup—what happens when there is a security breach. Is your information backed up and secure? Are you ready to initiate backup protocols so you can continue to work in the event of a data breach? Do you have an unattached/offsite copy of your data in case of ransomware
  • Disaster recovery—having a plan to move forward. A disaster can throw off an entire healthcare system. Disaster recovery helps you implement plans of action that quickly propel you forward, utilizing as much as you can from your existing security infrastructure.

Alone, a simple “security firewall” isn’t enough. What happens if someone bypasses your firewall? Is your information secure? Do you know what to do next? Do you know how to lock down your ongoing healthcare IT needs?

These are the questions you don’t want to ask when a security breach happens. These are questions you want answered now—when you have the time to put a plan on paper.

Consult with a top technology solutions partner to identify gaps. It may not go 100% according to plan if/when your data is breached, but the act of planning will leave you better prepared.

Tip #5: Incorporate Managed Security Options

If you were simply to implement these four tips, you would quickly make your healthcare infrastructure more secure and better able to handle disasters like major data breaches. But with a managed IT services partner, you can do more and also keep your team better focused on your business:

  • Patching In general, cyber criminals take the path of least resistance. If there is a known vulnerability – assume they will exploit it. Having a managed services team by your side to patch and keep on top of these possible exploits will help you sleep well at night.
  • Admin rights When it comes to security, teams often forget to update access when people leave or they give admins more access than needed. Having someone on hand that can review and maintain policies can be helpful.
  • Security Experts: If you work with a managed services security team, you will have experts when you need them. CISO as a Service is also available. Ransomware They are there. Breach – immediate attention. Compliance review – they help. They are there when you need them.

Conclusion: Making Healthcare Infrastructure More Secure

Healthcare infrastructure is at an inflection point. On one hand, digital technology makes sharing information easier than ever, which helps increase the quality of healthcare services. On the other hand, digital technology creates more entry points, and makes security threats more likely.

But if you adopt the habits above—integrating ZTNA, employee training, and putting layers of strong security protocols and services in place—you’ll stand a far better chance of protecting the vital information that makes healthcare systems work. Contact the healthcare experts at Comport for help and advice.

Author: Bill Flatley, Field CTO for Healthcare

Bill is responsible for technical strategies and recommendations for Comport’s Healthcare clients. His extensive experience includes four healthcare systems in leadership roles supporting Clinical Applications, Digital Health, and Office of the CIO as the primary liaison between IT and the business.



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