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:
- Denial of Service
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
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:
- 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:
- 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
- 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:
- 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.