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How healthcare security efforts can incorporate advanced tech tools

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Information technology staff for hospitals and other healthcare providers must regularly give their cybersecurity practices thorough reviews to keep them abreast of the latest security challenges.

In its annual study on privacy and security of healthcare data, Ponemon Institute reported that almost 90 percent of healthcare organizations have been breached. Potentially more alarming is that the average cost of each data breach for a healthcare provider is $2.2 million.

In 2018, most industry observers predict that cyberattacks will become increasingly sophisticated, more pervasive and costlier. Underscoring this point is a recent Deloitte survey of 370 medical device professionals, which found that more than a third had experienced a cybersecurity incident in the last 12 months, and that the regularity of such incidents is expected to increase.

The harsh truth is that healthcare organizations and their third parties are lucrative targets for cyber attackers because of the wealth of sensitive patient data they manage and the relative ease of infiltrating their networks.

Several factors can increase a healthcare providers’ vulnerability. Medical devices with IoT capabilities, for example, make the task of implementing traditional network security monitoring much more difficult because of transient connectivity. Additionally, electronic access to medical records increases patient satisfaction but poses an additional network security risk. Even so, healthcare IT teams are often limited by budget and resources and frequently lack the tools necessary to combat today’s modern attacker.

The answer is increasing network security, not reducing deployments of IoT medical devices or limiting access to essential healthcare IT tools. To do this successfully, healthcare IT teams will require new and advanced tools in their arsenal that not only defend the network perimeter, but also increase their ability to proactively detect and respond to in-network threats efficiently and effectively.

Provider organizations also need to use more technology tools, both to defend networks, and confuse and thwart attackers. One category of active defense technology gaining increased adoption among healthcare providers is deception technology, an emerging category of security tools and techniques designed to prevent an attacker who has already entered the network from doing damage.

Deception technology is a powerful tool that can help secure company assets, safeguard patient data and transform the network into an environment where the attacker cannot determine what is real and what is fake. These traps and lures detect lateral movement, credential theft, ransomware and Active Directory reconnaissance, ultimately revealing an attacker’s activities as they try to scan systems or attempt to download malware onto medical devices.

In addition, deception saves time for IT teams by automating routine security tasks, enabling smaller teams to accomplish more without sacrificing security. Deception-based threat detection solutions vary widely based on comprehensiveness, authenticity, attack analysis and ability to improve incident response.

Platforms that combine network and end-point detection to create the highest efficacy of early detection coverage of advanced threats have proven to be the most effective in the healthcare providers’ network. With these solutions, deception is placed at both the end-point and inside the network. These platforms efficiently detect threats across all vectors including stolen credentials, “Man-in-the-Middle,” ransomware, phishing and insider threats that often evade traditional perimeter-based systems. They also ensure authenticity by misdirecting attackers and creating deceptions that provide advanced luring techniques based on the use of real operating systems, golden images for decoys and customized endpoint credentials designed to draw in attackers.

One recent example of applying new technologies to the medical and healthcare industries to enhance cybersecurity of medical technology and devices is a multi-faceted initiative led by

Becton, Dickinson, one of the world’s largest healthcare, safety and technology organizations. BD has launched a cybersecurity vendor certification program to verify third-party security technologies for compatibility and performance levels and to conduct extensive tests to ensure reliable threat detection is achievable.

One of the key deliverables from this program is the creation of "mirror-match decoy authenticity" software for some of BD's devices, a method designed to redirect an attack from reaching important information or networks.

BD’s program is an important step toward helping hospitals and healthcare providers employ safeguards around their network structure to minimize risks. It exemplifies just one of the many strategies that healthcare industry info security teams should be evaluating, along with increased network segmentation, vulnerability management and user behavioral analytics.

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