Cybersecurity has become a crucial consideration for healthcare organizations. According to IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report, security breaches in healthcare cost businesses an average of $9.23 million per incident — the highest among all sectors, and digital transformation is to blame for it.
Workers worldwide have gone remote to work on a range of cloud-based mobile devices, expanding the attack surface for cybercriminals. Furthermore, since these devices regularly function outside the network, establishing endpoint security in healthcare poses a colossal challenge. Now, we can’t even accurately define the endpoint.
Discovering Endpoint Devices In Healthcare
In simple terms, an endpoint device is any remote internet-enabled hardware that deals in back-and-forth communication with the TCP/IP network to which it is connected. Instruments like MRI machines, defibrillators, IV pumps, blood pressure monitors comprise just a tiny fraction of all endpoint devices in complex healthcare organizations. Some businesses can’t even list out all the endpoints they have.
While disconcerting, this lack of accountability arises due to the fact that device ownership is divided in modern hospitals. As a result, new devices aren't always brought to the notice of the IT department for implementing security patches, and this routine has reached a point that now there are way more devices with significantly less control.
Moreover, there are endpoint devices that are commonly missed out even by some of the diligent organizations. These include multi-function devices (like copiers, printers, IoT devices), the imaging suite (like X-Ray and MRI machines), and biomedical devices.
Managing And Protecting Endpoint Devices In Healthcare
In healthcare, many different devices communicate with each other. And while the idea is to make the process convenient for the patient and the staff, it also makes the shared data harder to secure. Furthermore, this also poses a major challenge for IT professionals. While they can't compromise on the endpoint security front, they also can't prohibit access to lifesaving devices even as the inventory grows. The smart way to go about this dilemma is to invest in an all-inclusive zero-trust endpoint security solution with industry-leading features that serve both small offices and large corporations alike. It will not only protect one against ransomware and phishing attacks but will also offer them a more centralized device control without taking a toll on the CPU.
Going a step further, here are a few best practices we can follow to develop a multilayered approach towards managing and protecting endpoint devices in healthcare.
Get The Basics Right
To establish a solid endpoint management strategy, first, it’s necessary to check the vitals of one’s organization. Asking the right questions will set them off on the right track.
- The IT team should be responsible for managing the access and visibility, not any other department.
- Locate all storage points for all critical business and patient data.
- Rectify if a given device shouldn’t be active on a network at a given time.
- Verify the access privileges of all staff, healthcare professionals, technicians, and visitors
- Regularly audit user activity to rule out potential threats
The vulnerabilities mostly exploited by black hats are embedded in the operating systems that the healthcare industry uses. That’s one of the primary reasons why they remain such an easy target. The way around this problem is to implement frequent system updates with security patches. With proper patch management, the infosec team can be alerted when the software on a given device is outdated and needs to be patched.
If, while taking inventory, any devices (say, the biomedical devices or the imaging suite) are found to be vulnerable, they must be segmented into secure virtual LANs. This will prevent data breaches while the vulnerabilities get patched.
Secure The IoT Devices
IoT devices are often ignored when it comes to security, so much so that they don't even get FDA approvals. These are manufactured with little regard to quality in a bid to save costs, just as they are rarely up to date with the prescribed security configurations. The solution here is to first take inventory of all such IoT devices and establish and enforce at least the secure baseline configuration.
To understand and prepare for what’s next, the healthcare industry needs to leverage AI-enabled security products that learn continually. This is all the more relevant since legacy antivirus applications slow down endpoint performance with frequent scans
While we must avoid putting unnecessary roadblocks for the healthcare staff that prevent them from doing their job, following the above best practices is non-negotiable. There’s a high price tag on illegally acquired healthcare data for both the service providers and cybercriminals, and this calls for organizations to become more vigilant with their data security operations. Be it internal systems or remote devices — we need to have a robust security system with elements that work in harmony to block cyberattacks in realtime.
Tata Tele Business Services offers a suite of cybersecurity solutions that ensures one’s data remains secure and their administration runs effortlessly. It includes the following products:
- Email Security: protects an organization against phishing and impersonation attacks, malware, and viruses.
- Web Security: removes online threats.
- Virtual Firewall: a complete solution against sophisticated threats.
- Multifactor Authentication: for an added layer of user authentication.
- Endpoint Security: a trusted enterprise-grade solution for protecting endpoint devices for businesses of all sizes.
With these nifty solutions in place, any healthcare business can plug the gaps in its security infrastructure as it continues to grow.