Data breaches in the Healthcare sector are on an upward trend. The best chance for inverting this trend is for the healthcare sector to implement a cyber risk management program that can keep up with the rate at which cyber threats are being discovered and exploited in the industry’s threat landscape.
This post outlines the key features and capabilities that characterize such an ideal cyber risk remediation tool for healthcare organizations.
What is Cyber Risk Remediation in Healthcare?
In healthcare, cyber risk remediation is the process of identifying and addressing cybersecurity threats. There are two primary objectives of such an information security program:
- Minimize impact on the organization’s goals and objectives.
- Increase cyber attack resilience.
These two objectives are knit together by a risk management framework, a methodology for reducing threat intelligence uncertainty to help security teams make smarter risk mitigation decisions.
A cyber risk mitigation framework measures discovered risks against a defined risk appetite, helping incident response decide which threats should be accepted, avoided, transferred, or reduced. The result is a highly efficient cybersecurity program with cyber risk remediation processes optimized to maximize positive impact.
In the healthcare industry, a popular cybersecurity risk management framework is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF). NIST CSF is segregated by five primary functions - Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.
Though cyber risk remediation impacts all of this framework's functions to some degree, most of its processes sit within the Response function. Each category within the Response function represents high-level metrics for the capabilities of an ideal cyber risk remediation tool for healthcare providers.
- Incident Response - To achieve the most efficient response workflows, the potential impact of cyber risks and their associated security controls should be determinable.
Learn how to create an incident Response Plan >
- Communications - The efforts of vulnerability management efforts should be clearly communicated with stakeholders and amongst security team members to keep everyone informed of the remediation program's efficacy.
- Analysis - To ensure the continuous improvement of risk remediation efficiency, a process should be in place for measuring impact against a healthcare entity’s security posture.
- Mitigation - To reduce the impact of cybersecurity incidents, a prioritization system should be in place, helping remediation teams understand where they should focus their efforts.
- Improvements - All stakeholders, including security teams, should be unified in their awareness of remediation program efficacy. This will encourage a culture of continuous cybersecurity performance improvement
3 Must-Have Features in a Cyber Risk Remediation Product for the Healthcare Sector
To maximize the impact and ROI of your final choice of risk remediation product, ensure it has the following minimal set of features and capabilities.
1. Interoperability of Cybersecurity Processes
While it may be obvious that insufficient data security products and security policies increase the risk of data breaches, few healthcare entities are aware that, in extreme cases, the opposite may also be true. An excess of cybersecurity solutions could actually increase the number of attack vectors in your IT ecosystem. This is because each additional digital solution is susceptible to security vulnerabilities, so the more digital solutions you have, the more potential cyber attack pathway option you offer threat actors.
The simplest solution to this digital transformation conundrum is to keep your digital footprint minimal. Implement the smallest degree of information technology needed to achieve your business objectives. This means prioritizing digital platforms addressing multiple processes in a business area rather than integrating different solutions to achieve the same outcomes. This approach will keep your attack surface (the total number of attack vectors across your digital landscape) minimal, leaving hackers with fewer options for exploitation.
To keep your cyber risk remediation tool selection aligned with this best practice, select a product with a centralized remediation feature mapping to the complete lifecycle of cyber risk management. The best risk remediation tools further economize attack surfaces by addressing internal and external cyber risks from a single platform.
Even without considering its digital footprint benefits, this strategy makes the most sense because every function of the NIST cybersecurity framework overlaps with risk remediation processes.
- Identify - Risk identification techniques, such as risk assessments, leverage risk remediation features to identify critical threats that should be prioritized.
- Protect - Performance gaps in security controls and data protection technology are fed into remediation processes to maintain alignment with cybersecurity initiatives.
- Detect - Notifications of detected risks trigger activation of relevant remediation responses.
- Respond - Response teams reference risk profile dashboards to understand which remediation tasks must be prioritized.
- Recover - Remediation data is required to establish threat response baselines for continuous improvement.
To support the principle of Cyber Security Mesh Architecture (CSMA) - another strategy supporting minimal attack surface expansion, a risk remediation tool should seamlessly integrate with other cybersecurity programs and protocols, including Zero-Trust architectures, Endpoint Detection and Response, Multi-Factor Authentication, firewall technology, etc.,
How UpGuard Can Help
UpGuard keeps your attack surface minimal by addressing the entire lifecycle of cyber risk management from a single platform. Some of UpGuard’s many features include:
- Attack Surface Management - Support by essential attack surface management features like continuous monitoring and real-time detection of internet-facing IT assets, including medical devices, IoT technology, and other external IT assets.
- Regulatory Compliance Tracking - Track internal and vendor compliance against critical healthcare regulations like HIPAA.
- Security Rating - Identify security risks facilitating malware and phishing attacks impacting Protected Health Information across internal and vendor attack surfaces.
- Vendor Risk Management - Manage the complete lifecycle of vendor security risks to minimize supply chain attack threats and service provider security risks facilitating unauthorized access to sensitive information shared with vendors.
To learn how UpGuard supports minimal digital footprinting beyond consolidating multiple workflows in a single platform, watch the video below for an overview of its Attack Surface Management capabilities.
2. HIPAA Compliance Tracking
With fines of up to $50,000 for each violation, healthcare entities need to ensure their regulatory compliance program is bulletproof, and this begins with complete awareness of all risks impacting compliance efforts.
To maintain HIPAA compliance, healthcare entities must mitigate security risks impacting the safety of sensitive data, also known as Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI), in the healthcare sector.
Third-party vendors are commonly overlooked attack vectors threatening ePHI safety. An ideal risk remediation tool should be capable of identifying and addressing HIPAA non-compliance risks across vendors entrusted with processing sensitive data associated with patient care.
How UpGuard Can Help
UpGuard’s library of industry-leading questionnaires includes a HIPAA-specific questionnaire for identifying vendor risks that could impact your compliance efforts.
UpGuard’s compliance tracking capabilities extend to tracking alignment against NIST CSF - the cyber risk management backbone of the healthcare sector.
To learn about some of UpGuard’s supporting risk assessment workflows, including process automation, watch the video below.
3. Third-Party Cyber Risk Remediation
A cyber risk management strategy is incomplete if it doesn’t include a Vendor Risk Management component. Vendor-relates security risks facilitate third-party data breaches, attack vectors estimated to cause up to 60% of data breaches.
Your choice of cyber risk remediation product should include remediation workflows for the following common types of third-party security risks in healthcare:
- Compromised Vendor Credentials - Also known as third-party data leaks, compromised internal credentials are published on dark web forums following successful ransomware attacks and data breaches involving third-party service providers.
- Third-Party Security Risks - Perhaps the most common type of third-party attack vector, security risks could be caused by outdated Microsoft server software, unpatched technology, zero-day vulnerabilities, or unsecured APIs (like the attack vector that facilitated the Optus data breach).
- Medical Device Vulnerabilities - Any third-party medical device connected to the internet, including MRI machines and Insulin pumps, could become pathways into your internal network if not regularly patched and assessed for security risks.
- Third-Party Data Storage - Because of the immense amount of patient data constantly produced by healthcare entities, the industry relies heavily on third-party data storage services. If these third-party services don’t adhere to your cybersecurity standards, they’ll eventually expose your data through security vulnerabilities in their digital infrastructures.
- Inadequate Vendor Risk Management - Your third-party service providers likely also outsource a degree of their data processing tasks to their own third-party service providers. Because of the interconnectedness principle of digital transformation, the security risks of your vendor’s vendors (your fourth-party vendors) could also negatively impact your security posture.
A healthcare security risk remediation tool that also addresses third-party risks extends the NIST Cybersecurity framework to the third-party attack surface, expanding the scope of risk management to include a critical cybersecurity program with a growing emphasis in healthcare regulations - Vendor Risk Management (VRM).
How UpGuard Can Help
UpGuard’s cyber risk remediation features address the complete scope of third-party security risks prevalent in the healthcare sector, including legacy server operating system risks and third-party software vulnerabilities.
By also including a complete Vendor Risk Management tool within its platform, UpGuard helps healthcare companies establish a framework for a complete Vendor Risk Management program.
Watch the video below for a quick tour of the UpGuard platform.