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You’ve been breached! What’s next?

data breach

Privacy is a scarce commodity in today’s online environment. Big corporations, such as healthcare, know everything there is to know about you, thanks to data brokers who collect and consolidate all the data crumbs you leave when you surf the web. However, this invasion of privacy pales in comparison to the consequences of a criminal hacking team digging deep into your personal data. Hackers cash in on their illicit access to your life as soon as possible, preferably before you even realize there’s an issue.

“After a data breach, what is the most critical next step you should take?”
According to some experts, the year 2022 will be the most significant in terms of data breaches ever. Your personal life will be exposed sooner or later. If you find out you’ve been hacked, what should you do?

We set out to seek some expert advice from data security specialists on what they consider the best procedures for dealing with a data breach. We’ve also put together this free-to-download white paper on the 2021 data breach trends and threats, including research findings and expert advice.

Different Types of Cyber-Attacks to Recognize

Unfortunately, any company can be subjected to a data breach or a cyber attack. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is; if your data, key papers, or client information is compromised, recovering from the fallout could be challenging.

Cyber-attacks come in a variety of forms. The following are a few of the most common:

Phishing is a social engineering scam that falsely uses email to gain sensitive information. This is the most typical hacking approach for getting an employee to open an attachment or click on a link. Hackers use phishing attacks to acquire direct access to a target’s email, social media, or other accounts and modify or compromise associated systems like point-of-sale equipment and order processing systems.

Ransomware is malicious software that prevents users from accessing a computer system unless a sum of money (or ransom) is paid or another action is taken. Viruses, worms, and trojan horses get access to a computer and then destroy it. Hackers force victims to pay a ransom, usually in bitcoin, to unlock their systems. Cyber-attack victims have spent millions of dollars to regain access to their networks in some circumstances.

Unencrypted Data – This is plaintext or data that has not been altered and can be accessed by anyone. This might be critical data kept online on cloud servers with no security measures. By encrypting your data, you may protect yourself from brute force attacks and cyberattacks like malware and ransomware. Data is safeguarded via encryption when sent to the cloud or on a computer system.

What Are The Steps To Take After a Data Breach?

If your company has been the victim of a data breach and you’re not sure what to do next, follow these measures to assist minimize the damage:

1. Keep Your Cybersecurity Breach Under Control

While removing everything following a data breach may be tempting, evidence preservation is critical for understanding how the breach occurred and who was involved. After a breach, you should first determine which servers have been compromised and isolate them as quickly as possible to avoid infecting additional servers or devices.

Here are a few things you can do right now to try to stop a data breach:

What to do if you’re the victim of a cyber-attack:

  • Turn off your internet.
  • Remote access should be disabled.
  • Keep your firewall settings intact.
  • Install any security updates or fixes that are available.
  • Passwords should be changed regularly.

All passwords that are affected or susceptible should be changed right away. For each account, create a fresh, strong password, and avoid using the same password on numerous accounts. If a data breach occurs again in the future, the damage may be reduced.

2. Examine the Security Breach

If you are a victim of a more significant attack that has impacted several firms, make sure you stay up to current developments from reputable sources watching the situation. Hence, you know what to do next. Whether you’re a victim of a more significant attack or the only victim, you’ll need to figure out what caused the breach at your particular facility so you can act to prevent it from happening again. Consider the following questions:

  • Who has access to the virus-infected servers?
  • When the incident happened, which network connections were active?
  • How did the attack start?

Checking your firewall or email providers’ security data logs, your antivirus application, or your Intrusion Detection System’s logs may assist you in finding out how the incident occurred. Consider hiring a trained cyber investigator if you’re having trouble pinpointing the source and scope of the breach; it might be worth the investment to help you secure yourself in the future.

Determine who has been impacted by the breach.
You’ll also need to figure out who was impacted by the breach, such as employees, customers, and third-party vendors. Determine what information was accessed or targeted, such as birthdays, mailing addresses, email accounts, and credit card numbers, to determine the data breach’s severity.

Educate your employees on data breach procedures.

Your staff should be informed of your company’s data security procedures. Adjust and disclose your security policies after determining the source of the breach to help prevent a repeat of the situation. Consider limiting data access to your staff. You should also train your personnel to regularly prepare for or avert a data breach.

3.     Manage the Repercussions of Your Cyber-Attack

Managers and staff should be notified about the violation.

Inform your employees about the situation. Establish clear permissions for team members to communicate internally and externally about the problem. While your company recovers from a data breach, it’s critical to be on the same page with your employees. To identify the appropriate way to notify your customers of the breach, you may need to seek legal guidance.

Notify your insurer if you have cyber liability insurance.

Cyber liability insurance is designed to help you recover from a data breach or cyber security attack. As quickly as possible, contact your carrier to see how they can help you with what to do following a cyber-attack. Suppose you don’t already have a cyber liability insurance policy. In that case, AmTrust’s authorized agents will help you choose one that will cover the costs of dealing with future cyber catastrophes as well as identifying possible cyber exposures.

Customers should be informed.

Consider establishing a special action hotline dedicated to answering queries from affected folks to demonstrate your commitment to be transparent with your customers. Maintaining solid and professional connections with your customers can be difficult without effective communication.

A data breach can be stressful, but your company will be better equipped to recover if you take the proper precautions. Conduct regular security inspections in the future to help prevent the probability of a similar incident occurring.

How To Report Cyber Crimes

If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam, take the following steps:

  • If you have one, contact your IT/security department.
  • Contact your financial institution right away to request a fund recall.
  • Report any abnormalities with payroll deposits to your employer.
  • Inform the Internet Crime Complaint Center about the attack (IC3). They’ll pass it on to federal, state, municipal, or foreign authorities. Make touch with your credit card company as well.
  • If you’re disputing illegal transactions made on your card by scammers, or if you fear your card number has been compromised, tell them.
  • If you or your company has been a victim of a network intrusion, data breach, or ransomware assault, please get in touch with your local FBI field office or report it online at tips.fbi.gov.


It’s not easy to keep the consequences of data breaches to a minimum. You must take the necessary precautions and remain vigilant. However, the effort required is far less than the Herculean challenge of regaining your identity after hackers have stolen it.

If you have been notified that your company has been breached, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. There are a few simple steps you can take to mitigate the damage and protect your data. Many businesses find themselves in this situation, and thankfully, some professionals can help. Protected Harbor is a leader in data breach response and protection and is here to help you get through this difficult time. We offer a range of services to our clients, including breach notification, 24×7 remote monitoring, phishing, ransomware safety, remote backup, protected data center, and much more. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you protect your data.

The top cyberattacks and healthcare data breaches of 2021


The healthcare industry is in a state of flux. The changes it’s been undergoing over the past decade — including widespread digitization, external attacks, and internal threats — have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office statistics, we can see that healthcare organizations are routinely targeted for their sensitive data and are falling victim to a wide array of cyberattacks. The consequences are more than financial: As demonstrated by the Equifax breach, medical information is highly personal and has a devastating impact when exposed.

The 2021 Healthcare Data Breach Report examines the trends behind the latest cybersecurity attacks on healthcare organizations and highlights the most pressing threats of 2020 so you can protect your organization from future attacks.

In this infographic, we dive into the details of these incidents. We examine:

• Who is being attacked and how?
• What are the top attacks and threats of the year?
• How much does it cost to recover from a breach?
• And what can you do to protect your organization?

Zero Trust Security Models: Why are They Important for Healthcare?


With the growth of technology, the risk of cyber-attacks has increased. The attack surface, security, and network architecture of an organization are all affected by digital transformation. Systems, individuals, and healthcare organizations need secure ways to connect to the internet while staying safe from dangerous actors. Zero Trust is a security methodology that helps security experts and professionals join different cybersecurity solutions to create a secure environment.

Healthcare businesses can use a zero-trust security paradigm to protect their interconnected networks and devices while securing sensitive health data.

In this article, we will learn a lot about the Zero Trust security model. Let’s first understand what Zero Trust is.

What is Zero Trust?

Zero Trust is a strategic initiative that helps prevent data breaches by eliminating the concept of trust from the company’s network infrastructure. The Zero Trust principle, “never trust, always verify,” is intended to safeguard modern digital ecosystems. It’s a security framework that requires all users to be authorized, authentic, and continuously validated for security configurations before being granted access to data and applications.

It’s a security approach based on the idea of stringent network access control and not trusting anyone, even those who are currently inside the network perimeter. The fundamental principle of the Zero Trust model is least-privileged access assuming that no application or user should be inherently trusted. Trust is established based on the user identity and context, such as the security posture of the endpoint device, the user’s location, and the app or services being requested.

How does Zero Trust work?

Executing the Zero Trust framework combines the latest technologies, such as identity protection, network access control, multi-factor authentication, next-generation endpoint security, and the maintenance of system security. It also requires consideration of securing email, data encryption, and verifying the protection of assets and endpoints before connecting to the application. Zero Trust is significantly different from conventional network security models following the “trust but verifies” method. This approach trusted endpoints and users within the organization’s perimeters and put them at risk from malicious internal actors.

Therefore, the zero Trust security model requires companies to continuously monitor and validate that users have the right attributes and privileges. It also requires enforcement of the policy incorporating compliance or other requirements before allowing the transaction. One-time validation is insufficient because user attributes and threats are all subject to change. That’s why Zero Trust policies rely on real-time visibility into identity attributes, such as

  • User Identity and credential type
  • Privilege and number of each credential on each device
  • Endpoint hardware type and function
  • Firmware versions
  • Geolocation
  • Authentication protocol and risk
  • Application installed on endpoints
  • Operating system versions and patch levels
  • Security or incident detection

Organizations should assess their IT infrastructure and potential attack path to minimize the risk of a data breach.

Why is it necessary to implement the zero trust model in healthcare?

Given the future’s interconnected nature, with IoMT devices, augmented reality, robotics, and other technologies, most healthcare companies’ present perimeter-based security approach will no longer be viable. Healthcare organizations must continue to invest in the fundamentals while transitioning to a Zero Trust model from the castle-and-moat strategy to stay ahead of these changes.

Protected Harbor claims that adopting a single tool or platform isn’t enough to achieve zero-trust security. Typically, the method includes technologies from a variety of categories, such as:

  • Device security
  • Network security
  • Data security
  • Workload security
  • Access and identity management
  • Tools for gaining visibility
  • Platforms for orchestration

Organizations require a zero-trust network architecture to protect their data regardless of location and ensure that applications run smoothly and fast to stay competitive.

Stages for implementing Zero Trust

Shifting to a zero-trust architecture is a significant undertaking. Still, with the appropriate champions in place and well-thought-out plans and processes, the initial pain of deploying new security standards will be worth it.

According to a recent analysis by IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute, healthcare data breaches and ransomware attacks can cost upwards of $9.23 million per occurrence.

Each organization’s needs are different. But in general, the following steps help implement a mature Zero Trust model.

  • Visualize_ understand all resources, access points, and the associated risks.
  • Mitigate_ detect, and halt threats or reduce the impact of attacks or breaches if they can not be stopped immediately.
  • Optimize_ extend security to each aspect of the IT infrastructure and resources, regardless of location.

What are the Zero Trust Model’s guiding principles?

Here are the core principles of the Zero Trust security model.

Continuous monitoring and validation

The Zero Trust paradigm is based on the assumption that hackers are both outside and inside the network. As a result, neither machine nor the user should be trusted blindly. Zero Trust verifies privileges and user identity, and device security and identity.

Least privilege

Another core principle of the Zero Trust security model is least privilege access, giving users only required access. It minimizes each user’s liability to sensitive parts of the network. The least privilege is a technique for managing user permissions. This authorization approach is not well-suited for a virtual private network (VPN). Because connecting to a VPN grants access to the entire network connected to it.

Device & network access control

The Zero Trust approach necessitates stringent device and network access control in addition to user access control. This system needs to monitor how many devices try to access their network and ensure authorization. Moreover, it assesses all devices to ensure they have not been compromised. It reduces the network’s attack surface even more.


Zero Trust security model supports micro-segmentation. It’s a fundamental principle of cybersecurity that allows businesses to isolate network resources so that any cyber attacks can be contained and not spread throughout the company. They can protect sensitive data and systems by implementing granular policies enforced by role-based access control.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

MFA is also a core principle of the Zero Trust security model. Multi-factor authentication means requiring more than one authentication piece; just entering a password is not enough to access a device or system. The most common application of MFA is the two-factor authentication (2FA) used on social media platforms, such as Google and Facebook.


Zero trust enables companies to automate authentication processes in healthcare, allowing hospitals and health systems to focus on patient care rather than the aftermath of a cyberattack.

Implementing a Zero Trust security model is a complex and continuous process. However, organizations do not need to simultaneously apply all of the Zero Trust principles. They can start implementing this trust model with small steps, such as defining and classifying all of the organization’s resources, implementing a proper user verification process, and granting access to privileged users only. Designing and implementing a zero trust model required security experts to focus on business concepts. The Zero Trust security model returns immediate gains through risk mitigation and security control regardless of the starting point.

For each endpoint and cloud workload, identity, and data, security for the most crucial areas of organizational risk to stop breaches in real-time. Protected Harbor’s Zero Trust solution is compliant with NIST 800-207 standards. It maximizes Zero Trust coverage across your hybrid enterprise to secure and enable people, processes, and technologies that drive modern enterprise security with built-in protection for high-risk areas like identity and data.

Devices, networks, data, and workloads should be secured, and IAM, visibility tools, automation, and orchestration platforms should all be used. When you partner with Protected Harbor, we’ll take care of all of these issues for you with a tailor-made plan.

What is Penetration Testing & How will it prevent your next data breach?


What is Breach of Data & Pentesting & Why Should All HCIT Demand It?

Businesses of all sizes have become increasingly reliant on workforce mobility, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and digital media as technology advances. Data breaches have gained widespread popularity as sensitive business data is stored on local machines, cloud servers, and enterprise databases. Breaching a company’s data has become as simple as gaining access to restricted networks.

Healthcare businesses may have technology and policies in place to prevent data theft, but finding every security flaw is tough.
To assist defend your network and electronic Patient Health Information (PHI), look at your environment through the eyes of a hacker. Penetration testing, often known as ethical hacking, is the process of examining network settings, finding potential vulnerabilities, and attempting to exploit those weaknesses in the same way that a hacker would. These people, on the other hand, are on your side.

Penetration testing is important for your security and can help you comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Before proceeding further, let’s first have a brief introduction about the breach of data.

What is a data breach?

A data breach is a security incident that results in the disclosure of protected or secret data. It may involve the loss or theft of your credit card numbers or bank account information, Social Security number, password or emails, and personal health information. Data breaches can have a wide range of consequences for both businesses and individuals. These are costly expenses that can damage reputations and take time to repair.

Corporations and businesses are attractive targets to cybercriminals due to a large amount of sensitive data. More and more information has been moving to the digital world as technology progresses. A data breach can be accidental or intentional. Cybercriminals hack the company database where you have shared your personal information, or an employee of that company may expose your data accidentally on the Internet.

Recent Data Breach Statistics

Healthcare businesses are faced with a plethora of possible security risks in today’s ever-changing (and sometimes turbulent) cyber landscape, particularly those that target personal data. More than 1000 data breaches were reported to the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2020. It’s shocking that many firms aren’t putting enough money into their cybersecurity strategy, given the tremendous increase in incidents this year alone.

“Where should we target our IT budgets to avoid a repetition of 2021 and avoid exposing enormous volumes of patient data in the future year?” is the issue as we approach 2022.

According to research, the average cost to a company of a data breach is $3.86 million. Since the COVID-19 pandemic situation has forced companies to move their businesses online, there has been a significant increase in data breaches. A recent Kaspersky report says that around 726 million reported cyber-attacks occurred since the start of the year 2020.

The rapid adoption of remote working in all businesses created large gaps in cybersecurity, due to which there is an increase in cyberattacks and security threats. According to a cybersecurity company Malwarebyte’s report, remote working caused nearly 20% of cybersecurity incidents in 2020. The report also showed that remote workers use their devices instead of ones issued by their companies.

A network security vulnerability is a flaw or weakness that can be exploited by hackers to perform unauthorized actions. Malicious software or malware is developed with the intent of harming companies and individuals by doing data breaches. Malware attacks have become more sophisticated with the rising trend of machine learning and targeted phishing emails. 92% of the malware is delivered by email. Web-based and malware attacks are the two most costly types of attacks. Companies spent an average of U.S $2.4 million in defense.

The average cost of data breaches to organizations worldwide is $3.86 million. It takes companies an average of 207 days to identify data breaches. Data breaches have become more persuasive in the interconnected world, so it is important to understand modern-day cyberattacks. Here are some of the most recent data breaches or cyber-attacks in 2020.

  • In dark web crime forums, nearly 500,000 stolen Zoom passwords are available for sale in 2020.
  • MGM Resorts suffered a massive data breach that leaked 142 million personal details of guests.
  • The hotel Marriot faced a security breach in 2020, resulting in the leak of more than 5.2 million guests who used the company’s loyalty application.
  • Twitter breach well-coordinated scam made cybercriminals steal $121,000 in Bitcoin through 300 transactions.
  • Magellan Health was stuck by a data breach and a ransomware attack stating that 365,000 patients were affected due to a sophisticated cyber-attack.

What is Pentesting or Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is the manual process of assessing a network or an application for security vulnerabilities. It is a method to explore your IT environment and identify how cybercriminals or hackers can exploit the exposed vulnerabilities. Pentesting is also known as ethical hacking. It involves your penetration testers mimicking the attacker’s act with permission.

How pentesting can help prevent data breaches?

Hiring an ethical hacker to get into your network, website, Wi-Fi, or any other component of your infrastructure is a type of penetration testing that can help you find important weaknesses before they are exploited. Although time-consuming, the procedure can save money and protect a company’s reputation from the financial and reputational damage that real-world hacking can do. Many compliance regimes, such as HIPAA, encourage or mandate regular testing.

One of the most common threats that companies face is insider threats. These include data breaches and malicious attacks to steal information or compromise systems. The loss of data can be mitigated or prevented with effective penetration testing. Only a few companies are aware of pentesting and its benefits, while others leave themselves open to data breaches.

The pentesting processes help you discover blind spots that attackers use to breach your cybersecurity network. It helps improve your security posture and allows you to prioritize the vulnerabilities based on possible risks associated with them. Penetration testing involves examining all possible attack surfaces before a real data breach.

The best way to protect your organization from cybercriminals is to detect the weaknesses before them. Identify the vulnerabilities first and then find ways to exploit them just as hackers do. You can do it by scanning your systems, network, operation systems, and applications.

How do GDPR and law impact the data breaches?

Under the GDPR, organizations that process EU personal data are responsible for disclosing data breaches to data protection authorities with a 72-hour notification deadline. It not only applies to European companies but also to an organization that does business in Europe or holds European personal data. It means that companies around the globe processing EU data need to prepare for compliance with GDPR.

Businesses all over the world have begun to strengthen their cybersecurity as a result of GDPR. Because if your company is not fully compliant with the law’s impact and new regulations on data security, then you are expected to lose a lot of money from GDPR fines. These are based on the severity of non-compliance and the negligence from a company that causes a data breach.

If the companies do not have the progress in place to notify the consumers within the deadline, they have to pay a fine of 10 million euros or 2 percent of annual global turnover. For the severe faults like violating the requirement of Privacy by Design or not obtaining the customer consent for data processing, the fine is raised to 20 million euros or 4 percent of annual global turnover.


The type of assaults to which a company is vulnerable is influenced by its IT environment. Defects in online browsers, software, operating systems, and server interfaces, for example, can enable attackers to obtain access to a system.

As a result, each security strategy should be adapted to the specific network environment. Independent penetration testing can reveal many of the flaws typically discovered in application code (especially home-grown varieties) and is the best way to spot flaws before they are deployed.

Penetration tests should be performed whenever your company makes a big network update. Determine what kind of penetration testing your environment requires (e.g., segmentation checks, internal, and/or external penetration tests), as well as who should do these tests e.g., in-house staff or you can partner with a security solutions provider to do it for you.

Penetration test reports usually include a long, thorough description of the attacks utilized, testing techniques, and remediation recommendations. Protected harbor addresses the recommendations in the penetration test report and patch the discovered vulnerabilities in priority order.

To avoid data breaches, Protected Harbor assists customers in closing security and compliance gaps. Our forensic, penetration testing and audit teams find best security practices and make compliance demands easier to understand (PCI DSS, HIPAA, HITRUST, GDPR). Contact us and take the next step to security.

Should you Trust the Zero Trust Security Model?


The Cybersecurity threat landscape in healthcare has evolved so rapidly that it has become difficult to trust anyone in your network infrastructure. Who can you put your trust in when it comes to your IT infrastructure? The answer is no in a Zero Trust paradigm. The network access control paradigm underpins this trust concept. It means that users should only be permitted access to a network or device once they have been verified and only to the degree necessary to complete a task.

In this article, we’ll have explored the benefits and risks associated with the zero-trust security model. Let’s get started.

What is Zero Trust Model in a Nutshell?

Zero Trust is a network defensive shift toward a more comprehensive IT security architecture for all industries, including healthcare. It allows enterprises to restrict access restrictions to networks, applications, and the environment without sacrificing performance or the user experience. In other words, a Zero Trust strategy places no trust in anyone. Security teams are finding it increasingly difficult to trust or identify who should be authorized or trusted with access to their networks as more firms undertake more computing outside their perimeter in the cloud. As a result, an increasing number of businesses are incorporating Zero Trust into their trust network architecture and enterprise security strategy.

A three-step method is used in the Zero Trust security model.

  • Verify a user’s identity via authentication
  • Implement device and network access control
  • Limit privileged access.

This paradigm promotes the idea that businesses should not trust people or entities outside their network perimeters.

Zero Trust Use Cases

The Zero Trust model has increasingly been formalized as a response to secure digital transformation and a variety of complex, devastating threats seen in past years. The Zero Trust security paradigm can help healthcare organizations be more secure.

You must establish an infrastructure deployment model, which includes

  • Hybrid, multi-cloud multi-identity
  • Legacy systems
  • Unmanaged devices
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications

It is essential to address use cases with critical threats, such as:

  • Supply chain attacks_ generally involve privileged users working remotely and unmanaged devices.
  • Ransomware_ a two-part problem, including identity compromise and code execution.
  • Insider Threats_ extremely challenging while users are working remotely.

Here are some considerations an organization have

  • User experience impact considerations, especially while using multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • SOC/analyst expertise challenges.
  • Industry or compliance requirements

Each enterprise has distinct problems because of the type of business, current security strategy, and digital transformation maturity. If appropriately implemented, zero trust can adjust to meet specific requirements and ensure a return on investment (ROI) on your security strategy.

What are the benefits of the Zero Trust Security Model?

Let’s outline the main benefits of the Zero Trust security model.

  • This method necessitates the regulation and classification of all network resources. It allows organizations to see who has access to resources and for what reasons, and what security measures need to be put in place to protect those resources.
  • Implementing a Zero Trust security model is associated with deploying solutions for continuous monitoring and logging off user activity and asset states. It enables businesses to discover possible hazards quickly and respond appropriately.
  • This model helps expand security protection across multiple containerized and computing environments, independent of the underlying infrastructure.
  • It prevents data breaches and has lateral movements using application micro-segmentation.
  • A zero trust model ensures organizational security while providing a consistent user experience.

What are some technical challenges in implementing the Zero Trust Security model?

Here are the most common technical challenges faced by users/organizations while implementing a Zero Trust security model.

1. Network Trust and Malware

Without the complexity associated with traditional systems, organizations must ensure that any device and user may safely connect to the internet regardless of location. They must also be proactive in detecting, blocking, and reducing specific threats like phishing, malware, ransomware, advanced zero-day attacks, and DNS data exfiltration. The Zero Trust security paradigm can help your company improve its security while lowering the danger of a cyberattack.

2. IT Resources and Complexity

Security and enterprise access are complicated and ever-changing. Traditional corporate technologies are complex, and changing them takes time and resources. A Zero Trust security approach can help you save time and money by reducing the amount of work you have to do.

3. Secure data and application access
Traditional access tools and technologies, such as VPN, are based on trust principles, leading to compromised user passwords and data breaches. To ensure that their business is secure while allowing easy access for all users, organizations must reconsider their access strategy and technologies. While offering a uniform and efficient user experience, the Zero Trust security architecture decreases complexity and risk.

Choose the right Zero Trust Model?

We’ve gone over some of the advantages and drawbacks of the Zero Trust paradigm in this article. The benefits of putting this architecture in place go far beyond security. The healthcare industry being the prime target for hackers shifting to Zero Trust Security is not an option but a need. However, there are still significant dangers and obstacles with this strategy. Changes in the threat landscape may prompt businesses to adopt a Zero Trust security architecture for network access control and identity management. These businesses should understand all the problems and hazards associated with this security paradigm.

Security and IT teams of all organizations must concentrate on business considerations while creating a zero-trust architecture: What are we attempting to safeguard? Who did you get it from? It’s critical to understand that the entire security system is built on a zero-trust architecture. The strategy is stacked on top of the technologies and procedures, not the other way around.

As Protected Harbor proposes in its zero-trust network access methodology, zero trust can be supplied as a service. You can take a phased approach before deploying zero trust more broadly, starting with your most essential assets or a test case of non-critical assets. Whatever your starting position, a best-in-class zero-trust solution will provide you with immediate risk reduction and security management. Protected Harbor not only deploys the Zero Trust Security but a host of features such as remote monitoring 24×7, 99.99% uptime, malware protection, etc., to deliver unmatched experience and satisfaction. Click here to know how we do it.

The cloud demands network observability. But why?

Security breach, system hacked alert with red broken padlock icon showing unsecure data under cyberattack, vulnerable access, compromised password, virus infection, internet network with binary code

Why Network Observability is in Demand During the Era of IoT and Cloud in Healthcare IT?

Implementing dynamic networking infrastructure has become more critical than ever to securely connect with people, devices, applications, and data to support our evolving working environment. What can be the first thing we need to consider for this challenge? We cannot control or secure all kinds of connectivity if we don’t see what is happening in our network. By default, networks are distributed systems, and network visibility is vital in distributed systems. However, can network monitoring be good enough to better network visibility in the Cloud and IoT era? If not, what can be the solution?

The phrase “observability” is becoming more prevalent in the workplace technology field, but it’s perhaps even more significant in healthcare environments, where hospitals and healthcare providers can’t afford downtime.

– Richard Luna, CEO, Protected Harbor

This article will find the best way to gain network visibility by leveraging network observability rather than network monitoring. Let’s get started.

Why is network observability demanded in healthcare?

The healthcare industry is undergoing a massive transformation. This is primarily driven by the changing healthcare economy, but also by advances in information technology. Two of the biggest drivers are the move to mobile devices and the evolution to cloud services.

Both trends are impacting how hospitals need to manage and secure their networks. More and more hospitals are deploying mobile access points, which gives doctors and staff the ability to treat patients anywhere, anytime. And more and more hospitals are moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

These trends have implications on how hospitals and health systems can monitor and troubleshoot their networks. The traditional method of monitoring and troubleshooting — TCP dump — is not designed for cloud or wireless networks. It requires too much time, too many resources, and it’s not very accurate.

That’s why network observability is needed in healthcare IT today, especially as more healthcare moves to IoT (mobile devices) and the cloud.

What is network monitoring?

Monitoring is a passive data collection and surveillance practice used to measure the performance against pre-set standards. Monitoring equipment has been deployed over the years depending on more static, traditional network environments without frequent changes. However, these tools can be deployed throughout the corporate network in various ways.

It offers a centralized view of the operational health of the underlying network and infrastructure. Network monitoring might give alerts based on connectivity, downtime, or service degradation but does not give deeper cause or hypothetical exploration of unknowns provided by an observability platform.

What is network observability?

Observability, according to Gartner, is the progression of monitoring into a process that provides insight into digital business applications, accelerates innovation, and improves customer experience. So we should use observability to extend current monitoring capabilities. Network observability is a process intended to have a deep knowledge of network health to provide an optimal end-user experience. When teams observe networks deeply, they understand ways to solve problems, correct them, and improve network performance to prevent future errors. Here are the main differences:

Network Observability Network Monitoring
● It focuses on network health from the standpoint of the end-user.

● Reduce administrator time to detect root cause and remediation

● Applies a broader range of information to pinpoint the leading cause

● provide service assurance to guarantee quality services

● uses next-generation AI and streaming telemetry

● less focused on network health

● NetOps staff handle alerts manually

● Monitors deviations and baselines traffic

● Uses proven protocols and tools

Network observability uses metrics, logs, and traces to give visibility into systems and enables you to monitor your cloud resources. It helps determine the complex IT infrastructures as enterprises require more visibility across their rapidly evolving application landscapes.

The current challenges with network monitoring

The rapid shift towards cloud technology and related trends, such as SD-WAN, has changed the concept of network monitoring. Still, the traditional network performance monitoring tools are not keeping up with advanced networking technologies. Here are some issues regarding conventional network performance monitoring tools.

  • Metadata, routing policy, network security, and cloud orchestration information are not included in traditional Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) products.
  • Basic network connectivity info such as IP/MAC and port numbers are insufficient to analyze network traffic securely.
  • The tools can’t handle cloud scalability, as cloud customers produce terabytes of VPC flow logs every month. So Typical network packet sniffer solutions do not work in the cloud environment.


More and more Healthcare IT is moving to IoT (mobile devices) and the cloud. We have already talked a lot about securing your wireless network. But Network Observability is needed.

Network Observability is a solution that gives you the visibility you need to see what’s happening on your network and how it’s impacting users, applications, and services. It is that simple! What does that mean for healthcare IT? We need to know what our security posture looks like at all times. We also need to know if our employees are using these services correctly or if their policies are affecting patient care or our security posture in any way.

In this case, we are looking at securing and protecting ourselves from cybersecurity threats. What network observability does is give us the visibility we need to see what’s happening on our network and how it’s impacting users, applications, and services. And that means having the right tools in place to respond quickly when something goes wrong or needs attention if your organization is looking for a wholly secured solution partner with one of the leading healthcare security services providers such as Protected Harbor.

The Learning? Using Network Observability, businesses will get a complete picture of their networks, systems, applications, and infrastructure layers. With Protected Harbor, your company will be able to shift from a reactive to a proactive mindset, anticipating any disruptive outages or slowdowns before they happen, minimizing the impact on facilities and necessary healthcare interfaces. After all, 24/7 care is only possible if the fundamental technology on which modern healthcare is built continues to run smoothly, and observability will assist many organizations in doing just that. Get in touch with us today.

Top 5 ways for large hospitals to secure their data


In recent years, data protection has become essential for all organizations, regardless of their size. Whether it’s occurring on the newest start-ups on the block or at a large healthcare corporation, data breaches and web theft can cause massive disruptions to organizations’ day-to-day operations. Large hospitals, in many cases, are way ahead of the game. Without having proper security procedures and policies in place, they can leave themselves open to potential risks and consequences of cyberattacks.

No matter how damaging a threat to a business’s data security, it can be easily avoidable with appropriate safeguards. If you want to ensure business continuity and ensure health information and patients’ security, you have to invest in the proper methods. This article will see how large hospitals secure their data and ensure corporate data security.

Data Security Methods For Large Hospitals

Many large hospitals are already using rigorous security methods. Since they learn and grow from the mistakes of other organizations, large entities tend to have proactive security policies and robust threat monitoring techniques in place. Here are five methods that large hospitals and healthcare companies look to redesign their data security methods.

Understand data lifecycle

Large hospitals with proactive security policies know their data, how it is used and where it is stored. Mapping data flow lets organizations better evaluate their weak points. Moreover, large organizations use discovery tools to ensure that data is accessible by authorized devices and users only. These capabilities enable large hospitals to be GDPR compliant and fulfill other transparency/privacy standards.

Use of encryption across the boards

Large hospitals not only handle a bulk of data but a variety of data. The heterogeneous pool of data makes them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. They use encryption methods for systems, data in the cloud, data at rest, and data in transit to protect their data. Hard drives, USB devices, and phones should use encryption if holding sensitive data.

Here are a few recommendations for data encryption.

  • Look at data in all cases, both in transit and at rest. Encryption is used to protect data in all scenarios.
  • Back up all the files and create an image backup before encryption. Create a boot disk or removable media and ensure that you have installed media for the operating system.
  • Decentralize encryption and decryption. You need an encryption key manager to maintain the security of keys to keep things organized while using a decentralized method. You will want to encrypt databases, applications, and files. Using distributed encryption, your organization can yield many benefits, including more robust performance, better availability, low network bandwidth, and high-quality data transmission.
  • Use the hub-spoke model to encrypt data. While combining the distributed execution with the central key management, the encryption and decryption mode will be anywhere within your network. The key management can integrate with encryption software and deploy on more than a single node. You can encrypt and decrypt at the node level with all the spokes in place. By structuring this way, data does not need to travel much. You can also maintain higher uptime that can arise from a hub failure. The key manager should be created, store, and monitor the expiration date of the keys used by the spokes. Keys need to be changed within the nodes when they expire.

Protecting data in the cloud

Cloud computing has become an integral aspect of digitalization, but it also increases security vulnerabilities with it. Security concerns have spurred intense disputes in information security circles and CIOs as data migrates to the cloud. Large hospitals do not have control over cloud security, but Cloud Service Providers do. IT departments are concerned; therefore, they use cloud security technologies to encrypt data before uploading it to the cloud, rank data by risk level, protect and monitor end-points, and give enterprises more control over cloud data security.

Here is a list of the best cloud security tools:

  • CloudStrike Falcon_ It’s a next-gen cloud-based endpoint protection solution that takes care of any connected device, ranging from light with a tiny digital footprint to powerful enough to handle attacks like shell injections and zero-day exploits.
  • Cloudflare Web Application Firewall_ It’s a powerful online protection service that can keep millions of web applications safe and connected effectively. It also protects the network by acting as a reverse proxy, preventing DDoS attacks.
  • Barracuda CloudGen Firewall_ It’s a next-gen SaaS security system to protect complex distributed network architectures. This tool identifies and protects against phishing emails and also offers backup.
  • TOPIA_ It’s a cloud security tool that gathers data on assets and analyzes it to detect threats and rank them based on their severity. It applies in-memory protection and Patchless Protection to defend a network.
  • Zerospam_ This cloud security tool protects corporate email servers by fighting against cyber threats like spear-phishing and ransomware. It’s an easy-to-use, highly effective tool with performance enhancement capabilities.

Technologies for data security

While technologies to protect data are constantly improving, they still fall short in several critical areas. Companies’ deal with security data has changed rapidly since introducing HIPAA compliance in 1996. We have come a long way, but we also have a very long way to go.

Large hospitals use a variety of methods and techniques to minimize security threats. While several tools focus on external threats, log-in records and authentication tools help monitor internal threats. Below are standard technologies and policies large hospitals use for data security.

  • Data masking- Data masking is a method to develop a fake yet realistic version of your company data. Data masking aims to protect sensitive data and provide a functional alternative when accurate data is not needed, such as sales demos, user training, or software testing. Data masking processes alter the data values while using the same format. The aim is to create a version that can not be reverse-engineered or deciphered. There are various ways to alter data, including encryption, word or character substitution, and character shuffling.
  • Data backups- To ensure accessibility, it is recommended to keep data backed up. Backing up data includes files and databases in addition to configurations, systems, and applications. Implementing storage backups minimizes the effect of ransomware or other malicious attacks.
  • Data erasure- Erase the data that is not necessary. Delete data if a customer cancels an account. Moreover, erase information if a customer does not want to be on an email list.
  • Tokenization is a way to protect data at rest while preserving data length and type. Tokenization replaces sensitive data with non-sensitive, randomly generated substitute characters as placeholder data. These characters, known as tokens, have no intrinsic value. They allow authorized users to get sensitive data when needed. It isn’t easy to maintain performance and scale securely as databases increase in size. Moreover, it’s difficult to exchange data as it requires direct access to a token vault mapping the token values. Tokenization is mainly used for structured data fields, such as social security numbers or payment cards.
  • Authentication- can vary from two to multi-factor authentication (2FA-MFA) and sometimes involves physical keys. The purpose of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is to construct a layered defense that makes it more difficult for an unauthorized person to get access to a target, such as a physical location, computing device, network, or database. Even if one element is hacked or broken, the attacker still has one or more barriers to overcome before gaining access to the target.


As hospitals and healthcare organizations plan for the future, they identify security as a prime directive. But there is a lot that can be done to consolidate and move towards distributed architectures without sacrificing data integrity and compliance. Privacy by Design/Default is one concept that would certainly help. For example, when you look at data reported as lost, compromised, or stolen, most of these incidents are related to human error.

And while technology can reduce some of the human mistakes that lead to breaches, ultimately, it will be up to the organization to enforce strict policies regarding security and the management of sensitive data. If an organization treats its data as if it were its own, then there is no reason that it would get into the wrong hands or leak out in any harmful way.

In summary, the future of health data security depends on a combination of creative solutions and technology to maintain privacy while still giving individuals access to their information.

Any strategy must also be adaptable and responsive to changes as they occur. Protected Harbor focuses on additional hardware, servers, modified servers, changes in connection and operations, and can all be part of the plan. And to add, we have our expert team of engineers who are proactive and committed to satisfying the clients.

Deployed monitoring is layered in as part of the plan. We add our Application Outage Avoidance (AOA) technology as monitoring is introduced. The integration of network device data and planned operations are referred to as AOA. For example, if a server’s disk capacity runs short, a sequence is run to enlarge the disk, avoiding a service downtime.

If you want to protect your hospital’s data and remain in compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, there is plenty you can do to keep that data safe. Whether you choose to partner with a HIPAA compliant hosting company such as Protected Harbor or go the do-it-yourself route, plenty of strategies are available to secure your organization’s information.


Top ways to minimize the risks of IT system attacks.


What Can HealthCare IT Do To Minimize Security Threats to IT Systems and Networks?

Healthcare organizations have always been vulnerable to different types of cyber threats. The recent reports by the Department of Health and Human Services highlight that healthcare is facing more severe security threats. To make IT systems more secure, organizations need to have a proper defensive approach to minimize data security threats, particularly ransomware attacks. The key to implementing such defensive measures is understanding the potential cyber threats. The data includes the patients’ information in Electronic Health Records (EHR) or electronic journals. The patient’s information is the most sensitive piece of data a Healthcare organization holds. The more sensitive information an organization has, the more it’s crucial to secure the data, as the attackers and hackers can get loads of data by breaching a single system.

In addition to data theft, the other security threats that Healthcare IT (HCIT) face includes:

  • Ransomware
  • Denial of Service
  • Phishing

Although Healthcare Organizations nowadays use technology to make their systems as secure as possible, they still need to take some measures to minimize these security threats to their IT systems and Networks.

By using the guide given in this article, you can prevent your system from Healthcare Data Breach:

Use Two-Factor Authentication:

Two-factor authentication(2FA), also known as multi-factor authentication (MFA), is used by most companies to validate who accesses their system. It requires users to verify their identity by using only authenticated users’ information. Implementing two-factor authentication in a healthcare IT system is essential to comply with HIPAA laws and protect patients’, employees’, and other organizational data. Furthermore, it helps secure the system by ensuring that only authenticated and verified users access the system at any given time.

The healthcare organization can implement the two-factor authentication either by developing their system or integrating a pre-built tool such as:

  • Duo Security
  • Google Authenticator
  • Last-Pass
  • One-Login

Move to a virtual server:

A server that shares the hardware and software resources with other operating systems is called a virtual server. You can re-create the functionality of a physical server through a virtual server. Multiple virtual servers can be set on a single physical server. They help in better resource allocation and utilization and allow for hardware independence, mobility/failover, and advanced disaster recovery. By moving to a virtual server, healthcare organizations can control who accesses their data, information, networks, and systems and improve resiliency and uptime.

Moving to a virtual server is essential as it has so many benefits that address the security concerns that a healthcare organization faces. These benefits include getting the ability to prioritize the critical traffic and improving the network agility while reducing the burden from the IT department.

A healthcare organization can move to a virtual server by using any industry-standard hypervisor (virtualization software), such as:

  • VMWare
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • SolarWinds Virtualization Manager
  • V2 Cloud
  • Parallels Desktop
  • Oracle VM Virtual Box

Use Effective EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response Tools):

The Endpoint Detection and Response Tools (EDR) is the technology that alerts the security teams regarding any malicious activity or security threat. They enable fast investigation and containment of attacks at endpoints (an employee’s workstation, a cloud system, a server, mobile or IoT device).

Using Effective EDR tools can help you improve the security of your network by aggregating data on endpoints, including process execution, endpoint communication, and user logins. It is vital to use practical EDR tools to detect and respond to any suspicious activities as soon as they are performed.

Here is a list of the best EDR tools:

  • FireEye
  • Symantec
  • RSA
  • CrowdStrike
  • Cybereason
  • Cynet Security
  • System Center Configuration Manager Endpoint Protection

Understand Your Network Map:

A network map visualizes the devices on a network, their inter-relationship, and transport layers that provide the network services. It can be considered a tool that provides the network users, administrators, managers, and IT professionals an understanding of network layout and performance.

Understanding the network map is critical to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws as it provides an overview of devices and data on your network. This overview is crucial in identifying and minimizing the attack surface of a system. It will also uncover devices that IT staff may not know are there- for instance, an old, decommissioned server.

To monitor your network map, you can use tools that help you understand the interconnectivity of devices and data flow through the network. Understanding the data flow can help pinpoint what information is vulnerable to attack and how. Here is a list of tools specifically developed for this purpose:

  • SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (NTM)
  • Edraw Max
  • Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
  • Nagios
  • ManageEngine OP Manager
  • Lucid Chart and so on.

Update All Software:

Different Healthcare organizations use multiple software throughout the organization to perform various tasks. Different versions of the software are released from time to time to reduce the weaknesses and other loopholes in the previous versions.

Keeping all the software up to date is essential for the better performance of the software. It also helps discourage potential cyber criminals who take advantage of previously-found weaknesses in software.

Whenever a new version of the software is released, the software developers inform all users regarding the updates. The IT admins should update all the software and operating systems throughout the organization from time to time to keep their IT system and network security.

Improve Your VPN Encryption:

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) helps you establish the private network while using the public networks. You can encrypt your internet connection and hide your online identity using a VPN. VPN encryption is a process by which a VPN hides your data when it enters and passes through its tunnels.

Being a healthcare organization, hiding your network details is essential as much critical data is being sent and received over your network. When using a VPN, you can stop attackers from getting any information regarding your network even if they already monitor it.

You can use and improve your VPN Encryption by:

  • Using IPSec Protocols
  • Using the most robust encryption and hashing algorithms and key groups (AES256, SHA256, DH14)
  • Stopping DNS Leaks
  • Using a Kill Switch
  • Using a Network Lock
  • Stopping IPV6 Leaks
  • Limiting VPN Access

Conduct Regular Audits:

Auditing is a process of examining how well a healthcare organization’s system conforms to an established set of security criteria. It includes assessing the security of the system’s physical configuration, information handling processes, user practices, and software.

Conducting regular audits is vital to identify security problems and system weaknesses, establish a security baseline to compare the future audits, comply with internal and external security policies, and identify unnecessary resources. It also helps ensure that any information is being added or updated in the system by an authenticated user, and no one can access the system without verifying their identity.

While performing an audit, system administrators should ensure that the system uses two-step authentication, all users use a strong password, and change it at regular intervals. They should also evaluate the access credentials to ensure that the previous employees do not access the data.

Install Remote Wiping and Disabling on all Mobile Medical Devices:

Remote wiping and disabling is a way to remotely remove or lock the data and user accounts from a mobile device if it is misplaced or stolen. Having remote access to your devices is a significant security feature that helps you control your device remotely.

It is essential that healthcare organizations install remote wiping and disabling on all mobile medical devices to remove their data and accounts if it ever gets stolen or lost. Remote wiping and disabling is a security function that allows you to remotely erase the data on the device or lock the device, even when the device is lost or stolen. You can destroy data stored on your lost or stolen mobile device if you enable the remote wipe feature on your device.

Nowadays, most devices have in-built remote wiping and disabling features that the authorized user can easily enable. But, if a device does not have it, any remote wiping and the disabling tool could easily be installed on the device.

Isolated Backups and Validate the Backup:

A backup that is stored separately from other backups and is inaccessible from the end-user layer is called a remote backup. Creating an isolated backup helps reduce security breaches, especially ransomware attacks. Ransomware is an attack that quickly encrypts all files on a hard drive and starts attacking other devices connected to a network. Creating local backups is not enough to prevent the system and network from this attack, so isolated backups are the best choice. An organization can quickly recover all its data if it has a remote backup.

A remote backup can be created by moving a backup on remote servers and an isolated network that can be accessed occasionally. Once created, it should be validated from time to time to keep it updated.

Use Professional Services:

Although healthcare organizations have many options to increase their system and network security and manage the potential threats, it does not meet the level of expertise required to mitigate these threats. Using a professional service is important as you cannot handle all types of threats yourself. You, at some point, will need to seek professional help to tackle the security breaches, so it is better to assign the task of managing the system security to an external agency. This way, you will no longer have to worry about data and network security, and your team will be able to focus on medical-related tasks.

There are so many professional services available to help you protect your data and network, such as:

  • DataNetworks
  • Keyavi Data
  • Digital Guardian
  • Protected Harbor

Protected Harbor data center is the best solution to tackle most of your healthcare organization’s information system and network issues.

Protected Harbor offers you:

  • Enhanced Security
  • Quick Access Anytime
  • Reduced Downtime
  • Work in Realtime
  • 99% uptime

Healthcare IT professionals must take action now to minimize security threats. Protected Harbor helps healthcare IT professionals protect data and applications, increase uptime, and reduce costs.  So, why compromise your data security to save some money? Contact us today to learn more about how you can secure your healthcare data.

Healthcare data breaches: Insights and Implications.

Young male doctor sharing data is exposed to network vulnerabilities created by mergers and acquisitions of medical practices. IT concept for computer and network security, data breach, cyber crime.


From the year 2005 to 2019, the number of individuals affected by healthcare data breaches was 249.09 million. Out of which, 157.40 million individuals were affected from 2014 to 2019. Similarly, in 2020, over 34 million individuals were affected, followed by 45 million in 2021 alone. According to The Office for Civil Rights Department of Health and Human Services)

Due to advancements in IoT, smart devices, and information systems, healthcare systems have become computer-based. All the data and records are managed via computers and are stored in local or remote servers. These technologies have helped healthcare move from a paper-based system to Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. The EHR systems got much popularity in less time as they are cost-effective, fast, and better than many healthcare organizations adopting them.

E-health data is highly receptive, targeted most frequently by attackers. A long-term analysis of data breaches showed that healthcare records were exposed by internal and external attacks, such as hacking, theft/loss, unauthentic internal disclosure, and the improper disposal of unnecessary but sensitive data.

This article will aim at sharing insights on healthcare data breaches and the implications that these incidents can have on organizations that suffer from them. It will also serve as a guide for healthcare organizations to prevent or mitigate the impact of such occurrences.

Why is Healthcare Industry a Primary Target of Cyber-attacks?

The biggest reason the healthcare industry is the primary target of cyber-attacks is that the attackers get worth millions of dollars of data in a single breach. Healthcare is a $1.2 trillion industry. The hospitals and clinics have enough financial resources to pay the ransomware in the private sector. Whereas in the public sector, the situation is the opposite.

Another reason is the reliance of hospitals and clinics on outdated systems with minimal resilience to cyberattacks. On the other hand, the organizations using modern healthcare facilities are still vulnerable to security breaches even though they use electronic data sharing and virtual services to facilitate patients.

Furthermore, the healthcare industry is more prone to cyber-attacks due to its slow adoption of cybersecurity technologies and measures. According to IBM’s survey, only 23% of hospitals have deployed security automation tools. Only 6% or less IT budget in healthcare organizations is dedicated to cybersecurity, according to the HIMSS survey.

Healthcare data insights show that the number of individuals affected from 2015 to 2021 was three hundred twenty-eight million and ninety thousand. You can easily determine how much data could be stolen in a single data breach from this number.

Moreover, according to Black Book Market research, more than 93% of healthcare organizations faced data breaches in the past three years, and 57% had more than 5 data breaches in the same time frame.

Costs of Healthcare Data Breaches:

One of the primary reasons healthcare organizations are the target of cyber attackers is financial gain. According to a report published by IBM, a typical healthcare data breach costs $6.45 million to the organization. Usually, it fetches $8.19 million. However, an average data breach (25,575 compromised records) costs $15 million in the USA.

How do Cyber-attacks Happen in Healthcare?

Because healthcare organizations hold so much information of significant monetary and intelligence value to cybercriminals and nation-state actors, they are particularly vulnerable to and targeted by cyberattacks. Protected health information (PHI) of patients, financial information such as credit card and bank account numbers, personally identifying information (PII) such as Social Security numbers, and intellectual property relating to medical research and innovation are among the data sets targeted.

The most significant reasons for the security breaches in healthcare organizations are an inadequate employee and client training and the lack of usable security measures. Healthcare professionals are not tech-savvy enough to understand the consequences of a cyber-attack. According to HelloHealth, 90% of security breaches in the health sector happen due to human error, which means that hospital or clinic employees’ unintentional actions, such as downloading or clicking an attachment infected by malware, cause the data breaches.

The insiders are the other source for cyber attackers that help them steal the patient’s data. People working in any healthcare organization with access to confidential data sell that data to cybercriminals and earn a profit. One of the Accenture reports mentions that 29% of healthcare professionals knew someone selling the authorized access to the patient’s data. 47% of the healthcare professionals who took part in the survey mentioned that they were aware of data breaches in their organizations, out of which many were not reported.

The lack of cybersecurity experts is also one reason the healthcare sector faces many security breaches. The Black Book Research found that it takes healthcare organizations 70% more time to hire a cybersecurity professional than other IT jobs. This means that due to the lack of talent in cybersecurity, healthcare organizations are left with no choice except to rely on IT professionals with less or no knowledge to secure the institutions against data breaches and ever-evolving cyber attacks.

Type of Hacking and Cyberattakcs that Result in Healthcare Data Breaches:

Nowadays, stealing personal health information (PHIs) is common in the black market. According to Infosec Institute, a PHI could cost up to $363. For healthcare organizations, the cost per stolen record reaches approximately $355, whereas, for non-healthcare companies, it is almost $158 (half of what it is for the healthcare sector). From these stats, you can determine why healthcare is the primary target of cybercriminals.

However, different types of cybersecurity threats are faced by healthcare organizations:


Malware is any software, link, or email, that infects the organization’s data as soon as someone clicks on it. Once a user clicks on malware, it hacks the organization’s data, steals, deletes, or misuses it while blocking critical files and applications access.

Ransomeware and Spyware:

Ransomeware is malware in which the attacker encrypts the files and data and demands some ransom to restore or decrypt the files. However, paying the ransom does not guarantee access or unlocking the files and data. In the first ten months of 2020, the ransomware attacks in healthcare organizations jumped 45%, which was more than double that of other industries.

Spyware is another malware. It is a way to monitor and report the activities of an individual or an organization to a third party for wicked actions.

Phishing and Spear Phishing:

A cyberattack in which the attacker approaches the employees of an organization in one way or another, such as via email, phone call, text message, or any other media acting as a legitimate professional or institution to gather some sensitive information. This information could be passwords, credit card details, and other personally identifiable information.

Spear Phishing is the same as phishing, except it targets specific individuals and organizations. It is much more difficult to detect and has become the cyberattack of choice due to remote health workers and fewer cybersecurity measures.

Denial of Service Attacks:

The denial of service attack targets a specific server, network, or IoT device by bringing up the flood of Internet traffic with an intent to exhaust the resources and bandwidth. Denial of Service attack prevents the healthcare professionals from accessing the network or devices to provide healthcare services or access the sensitive information for their jobs.

How can Healthcare Industry Avoid Data Breaches?

Healthcare organizations are expected to spend $125 billion on cybersecurity to avoid data breaches and security issues. As discussed earlier, the lack of proper education and staff training, and cybersecurity experts, the healthcare sector faces the most significant data breaches among the other industries. The appropriate staff training and education can help healthcare organizations secure their systems and avoid data breaches. Some of the measures that the health sectors can take are as follows:

  • Investing in better IT infrastructure and staff training.
  • Up-to-date cyber planning.
  • Implementing Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) to mitigate the security risks.
  • Investing in the latest technology and cybersecurity infrastructure.
  • Conducting the training to educate the employees and healthcare professionals to learn about the systems and avoid opening or clicking any corrupted files.
  • Consulting to a data center to store their data remotely. The data center will then be responsible for managing and securing the data from the cyber-criminals and any kind of cyberattacks.
  • Conducting data analysis to record which data is being generated in which department and what information is being transferred from one place to another.
  • Using time series analysis for data breach forecasting and risk forecasting.

Pro-Tip: Use Protected Harbor:

Protected Harbor builds a custom protocol for your firm from the ground up to safeguard your data center in the healthcare and medical industries against cyberattacks, outages, and downtime, among other things. Protected Harbor does this while ensuring HIPAA Compliance and securing the PHIs and EHRs. You can use this data center to avoid any risks associated with your data.

Why Choose Protected Harbor?

  • Enhanced security
  • 9% uptime
  • Highest regulatory standards
  • Experienced IT expert team
  • 24×7 remote monitoring


The implication is that the Healthcare sector is the primary target for cybercriminals as almost every one of us uses healthcare facilities. The amount of data generated, stored, and exchanged by healthcare organizations is extensive. This data includes sensitive data, electronic health records, and patients’ personal health information. Furthermore, all the information regarding internal entities is included in that data. Data confidentiality is difficult in this era of technology, networks, and the Internet as there are so many sources for cybercriminals to hack the systems used in the healthcare sector. The internal entities also serve as a source of providing authorized access to these criminals.

How encryption will stop you from being the next hospital on the news for a data breach.


If you think about healthcare organizations just a decade ago, most were not using cloud-based services or IoT devices. The majority of their data was stored locally. If there were any wireless devices on the network, it was likely for convenience for staff members, but not for patient care or storing data.

Now, let’s fast forward to today where many healthcare organizations have moved almost entirely to the cloud and are utilizing mobile devices in patient care. Healthcare organizations are also moving towards mobile phones being used as patient portals, eliminating paper records in favor of digital-based medical records and reports. All of this movement to the cloud and utilization of IoT devices means that healthcare organizations have to consider whether they have adequate security measures in place.

One of the most effective ways to resolve this issue is to leverage advanced encryption techniques. Encryption is one of the most crucial methods to secure data online. Encryption is a cybersecurity measure protecting sensitive data using unique codes that encrypt data and make it unreadable for intruders. In this paper, we will discuss fast speed symmetric encryption, secure asymmetric encryption, and hash functions. Then we’ll figure out the importance of encryption and how can end-to-end data encryption prohibit data breaches and security attacks.

What is Encryption?

To get secure in this digital world, the fundamental necessity is to hide sensitive data and information from unauthorized users or malicious actors. Encryption is the best way to protect data from being hacked. It’s a process of making data and files unreadable using an encryption key, so if somebody tries to gain access to sensitive data they only see gibberish. Encryption provides security and privacy by hiding information from being shared or hacked by malicious actors. To preserve the integrity and confidentiality of data, encryption is an essential tool whose value can’t be overstated.

The encryption takes place through a proper process. The data that needs to be encrypted is known as plaintext. This plaintext is passed through some encryption algorithms. Apart from it, an encryption key is required using which the plaintext is converted into ciphertext. When the data is encrypted, instead of sending plaintext, the ciphertext is sent over the Internet. Once it is reached to the receiver, they use a decryption key to convert ciphertext into the original readable format.

The need for data security has given birth to various encryption techniques, such as symmetric, asymmetric, hash functions, message authentication codes, digital signatures, and more. But in this report, we highlight symmetric and asymmetric encryption techniques and hash functions to secure data.

What is Symmetric Encryption?

In symmetric encryption, also known as private-key encryption, a secret key is held by one person only and exchanged between the sender and receiver of data. Both the sender and receiver should have a copy of a secret key to transfer data. The recipient should have the same key as the sender before the message is decrypted. The common symmetric encryption algorithms include RC2, AES, DES, RC6, 3DE, and Blowfish. The positive aspect of symmetric encryption is that it is faster. However, symmetric encryption is not much robust technique for protecting data. It can be easily decrypted, hacked, and prone to attacks. But if planned and executed carefully, the risk of decoding can be reduced. Symmetric encryption is suitable for closed systems having fewer risks of a third-party intrusion.

What is Asymmetric Encryption?

Asymmetric encryption, also known as public-key encryption, is a two-key system with a public and a private key. As the name suggested, the public key is available to anyone, but the private key remains with the recipient intended to decode data. The user sends an encrypted message using a private key that is not shared with the recipient. If a user or sending system first encrypts data with the intended recipient’s public key and then with the sender’s private key, then the recipient can decrypt data first using the secret or private key and then the sender’s public key. Using the asymmetric encryption method, the sender and recipient can authenticate each other and protect the data’s secrecy. Examples of asymmetric algorithms include RSA, Diffie Hellman, XTR, ECC, and EES. The positive aspect of asymmetric encryption is that it is relatively safe and secure than symmetric encryption. However, it is slower than symmetric encryption.

What are Hash Functions?

A hash function is a unique identifier for a set of data or information. It’s a process that takes plaintext data and converts it into unique ciphertext. Hash functions generate unique signatures of fixed length for a data set. There is a unique hash for each data set or a message that makes minor changes to the data or information that is easily traceable. Data encryption using hash functions can’t be decoded or reversed back into the original format. Therefore, hashing is used only as a technique of verifying data. Hash functions are used to ensure data integrity, protect stored passwords, and operate at different speeds to suit different processes.

Importance of Encryption in healthcare

For healthcare businesses, encryption is one of the most useful data protection solutions. Even if attackers obtain access to the data, healthcare providers and business associates can make it more difficult (preferably impossible) for them to read patient information by encrypting data in transit and at rest. HIPAA makes recommendations but does not require healthcare organizations to implement data encryption measures; instead, the rule leaves it up to healthcare providers and business associates to determine which encryption methods and other measures are necessary or appropriate in light of the organization’s workflow and other requirements.

There are a lot of reasons for using encryption techniques. Its importance can be defined by the following points. Encryption is important for data security because it provides:

  • Confidentiality_ It’s the most essential reason as it ensures that no unauthorized user can understand the shared information except one having the decipher key.
  • Data Integrity_ It ensures that the received information or data has not been modified from its original format. While transferring data online, it may get changed by malicious actors. However, data integrity confirms that data is not intact by an unauthorized user. It can be achieved by using hash functions at both sender and the receiver end to create a unique message.
  • Authentication_ It’s a process of ensuring the identity of the intended recipient. It means that the user has to prove its identity to access the information.
  • Access Control_ It’s a process of restricting unauthorized users to access data. This process controls who can access resources and prevent data from malicious actors.


As recommended in the HHS HIPAA Security Series, Health IT Security addresses the two essential considerations that healthcare companies should examine when evaluating an appropriate amount of encryption and whether encryption is required:

What data should be encrypted and decoded to avoid unwanted access to ePHI (either by unauthorized persons or applications)?

What decryption and encryption technologies are required, reasonable, and suitable in this scenario to prevent unauthorized people and apps from accessing sensitive health data?

Protected Harbor’s CEO, Richard Luna, claims that encryption is especially important in the mobile environment “where providers are talking with one another about a case or a series of instances that they may encounter with patients who have a set of opportunities, problems, and situations.” You want to keep that information safe.”

Insurance information, medical data, and social security numbers are examples of PHI. Due to a lack of encryption, healthcare organizations should not risk disclosing this information. Protected Harbor’s products are HIPAA-compliant and may be readily integrated into existing healthcare systems. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your PHI with our hardware encrypted solutions.



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