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New Paradigms in Patient Care


Eighty-two percent of hospitals have reported significant cyber security incidents, but only 5% of hospital spending is directed towards cyber security.1 Given the recent spate of ransomware attacks, hospitals are beginning to see how cyber security is not only an IT issue, but how it is also inextricably linked to patient care. Although you may have HIPAA-compliant cyber security in place, granular visibility, an automated architecture, and comprehensive IoMT protection can help you go beyond mere regulatory compliance; build a system that safeguards patient data, and the patients themselves. This paper will discuss foundational concepts for establishing excellence in cyber health.

The role of HIPAA:

For all of its utility, The Healthcare Information Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) data privacy law only pertains to data, meaning that it is a low bar when it comes to securing your system. The law does not mandate that healthcare organizations take steps to secure all attack vectors, including devices and other accessories that are critical in delivering high-quality patient care. Says one medical IT expert, HIPAA represents “…a floor, not a ceiling, and that you can be compliant, but not secure.”2

For optimal patient care outcomes, hospitals should set their target levels of security beyond that of outdated, federally imposed policies. HIPAA was first introduced to the US congress in 1996, and updated in 2006. Since then, technologies have evolved and cyber criminals have developed more sophisticated tactics. Security must correspond to the modern threat landscape, even if the laws haven’t kept pace. In the eyes of another expert, “…most hospitals are just a few clicks away from a multi-million dollar due care/due diligence lawsuit.”3

Granular visibility:

To ensure the smooth and consistent delivery of patient care, and to ensure business continuity, hospitals need clear visibility into cyber security data analytics. You need to be able to obtain a quick drilldown of what’s on your system, and who’s on your system in order to prevent and detect cyber threats. As a system administrator, you’re responsible for knowing what’s on your system. Do you have a precise inventory of how many devices, applications, and building control systems are connected to your network?

It’s time-consuming to keep track, and tough to untangle as an emergency unfolds. A solution with unified threat visibility insights can help quickly isolate a suspicious device or activity, and rapidly help you transition from analysis to action. In addition to tracking what’s on your system, you also need visibility into what’s out there about your system. In the interest of highlighting successful client relationships, third-party vendors may electronically publish information describing the types of services their clients have purchased, and how the services were installed. Cyber security consultants have obtained maps of organizations’ networks, information about firewall policies, source code for key applications, and more from simple internet searches. Hackers can also find this information, and use it to exploit your system.

Once on your system, it’s imperative that you can see the intruder/s before any damage can occur. Unfortunately, hackers have plenty of options for probing a computer network undetected. Using spyware, for example, hackers can collect login information, financial data, and other records that they can later use against you. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) can continue for months or years before anyone notices.

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