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Elisity Blog

Protecting Patients from Cyber Attacks: How Healthcare Organizations Can Improve Their Cybersecurity Practices

Are you worried about cyber attacks in healthcare? Protect patients and organizations from cyber risks with the US Department of Health & Human Services’ report, Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices: Managing Threats and Protecting Patients, which includes information on medical device security.

The Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices: Managing Threats and Protecting Patients white paper is a valuable resource that provides guidance on how to mitigate the risks of cybersecurity threats in the healthcare industry. The paper was created as part of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which tasked a group with studying the state of cybersecurity in the healthcare industry and developing strategies to improve it.

HHS Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices

The publication is intended for a broad audience, including healthcare executives, IT professionals, and other stakeholders involved in the management of healthcare organizations. It is divided into two main sections: a technical volume and a non-technical volume. The technical volume provides in-depth guidance on cybersecurity best practices, while the non-technical volume offers a high-level overview of the key concepts and issues covered in the technical volume.

One of the key themes of the publication is the importance of cybersecurity in the healthcare industry. The paper notes that healthcare organizations are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks due to the sensitive nature of the data they collect and manage, as well as the potential impact of such attacks on patient safety. It argues that healthcare organizations must prioritize cybersecurity in order to protect their patients and ensure the integrity of their operations.

The publication also provides an overview of the various types of cybersecurity threats that healthcare organizations face, including phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, and attacks on connected medical devices. It discusses the potential consequences of these attacks, such as the loss of personal data and the potential harm to patients.

What are the types of cybersecurity threats healthcare organizations face?

  • Phishing attacks: These are attempts to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or financial information, through fake websites or emails that appear to be from legitimate organizations. In the healthcare industry, phishing attacks may be used to gain access to patient records or other sensitive data.
  • Ransomware attacks: These are attacks in which an attacker encrypts an organization's data and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. In the healthcare industry, ransomware attacks can disrupt operations and potentially compromise patient safety.
  • Attacks on connected medical devices: With the increasing use of connected medical devices in healthcare, there is a growing risk of cyber attacks on these devices. Such attacks could potentially compromise the functionality of the devices or the confidentiality of the data they collect.
  • Loss or theft of equipment or data: This type of threat refers to the unauthorized access or disclosure of sensitive data through the loss or theft of physical devices, such as laptops or smartphones. In the healthcare industry, this could lead to the exposure of patient records or other sensitive information.
  • Insider, accidental or intentional data loss: This type of threat refers to the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive data by individuals with authorized access to the data, either accidentally or intentionally. In the healthcare industry, this could result in the disclosure of patient records or other sensitive information.

What are best practices to protect against these attacks?

In order to mitigate these risks, the publication provides guidance on best practices for cybersecurity in the healthcare industry. This includes implementing strong password policies, regularly updating software and security protocols, and training staff on cybersecurity awareness. The publication also recommends adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity, which involves regularly reviewing and updating an organization's cybersecurity policies and practices in response to changing threats.

  • Implement strong password policies: Healthcare organizations should require strong, unique passwords for all accounts and regularly update them. They should also implement password expiration policies and prevent the reuse of old passwords.
  • Regularly update software and security protocols: Healthcare organizations should regularly update their software and security protocols to ensure that they are up to date and secure. This includes applying security patches and updates in a timely manner.
  • Train staff on cybersecurity awareness: Healthcare organizations should provide regular training to staff on cybersecurity awareness and best practices. This can help to prevent employees from falling victim to phishing attacks or other threats.
  • Adopt a proactive approach to cybersecurity: Healthcare organizations should regularly review and update their cybersecurity policies and practices in response to changing threats. This may involve conducting regular audits, implementing intrusion detection systems, and establishing incident response plans.
  • Leverage microsegmentation: Network microsegmentation is a security technique that involves dividing a network into smaller, isolated segments in order to limit the spread of potential threats.

Microsegmentation best practices for Healthcare

Overall, network microsegmentation is a valuable security technique that can help healthcare organizations protect sensitive patient data, comply with industry regulations, and improve network performance. Healthcare organizations can leverage this technique in several ways:

  1. By dividing their network into segments based on different types of data or devices, healthcare organizations can better control access to sensitive information and limit the potential impact of a security breach.
  2. Network microsegmentation can also help healthcare organizations comply with industry regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which require that sensitive patient data be protected.
  3. By isolating different parts of their network, healthcare organizations can more easily monitor and manage network traffic, and quickly identify and respond to potential security threats.
  4. In addition, network microsegmentation can also improve network performance by reducing congestion and improving the flow of data across the network.

Are you interested in learning more about microsegmentation and how it can improve your organization's network security? Check out our latest blog post, What is microsegmentation and how does it work?, for an in-depth look at the key concepts and technologies involved in microsegmentation and its benefits for modern organizations.

What is section 405(d) of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (CSA)?

CSA 405(d) is a provision of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (CSA) that establishes a task group to study the state of cybersecurity in the healthcare industry and develop strategies to improve it. The task group is required to submit a report to Congress on its findings and recommendations within one year of the CSA's enactment.

The purpose of CSA 405(d) is to address the growing threat of cyber attacks in the healthcare industry and to ensure that healthcare organizations are able to protect themselves and their patients from these threats. The task group is tasked with studying the current state of cybersecurity in the healthcare industry and identifying gaps and vulnerabilities in existing practices. It is also responsible for developing strategies and recommendations for improving cybersecurity in the industry.

The findings and recommendations of the task group are expected to be used by healthcare organizations and other stakeholders to improve their cybersecurity practices and protect against the growing threat of cyber attacks. The task group's report will also inform future legislation and policies related to cybersecurity in the healthcare industry.

Download the full report

Download the full report, and gain access to valuable information and guidance on how to improve your organization's cybersecurity practices and protect your patients from the growing threat of cyber attacks. Don't wait - download the report today and start taking steps to improve your organization's cybersecurity.


Additional reading recommendations:

Ransomware Takes Hollywood Hospital Offline, $3.6M Demanded by Attackers – CSO Online, by Steve Ragan

IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2017, IBM Security Intelligence Staff

Montana hospital employee's email hacked while traveling, 8.4K patients' data stolen, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report, by Julie Spitzer


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