Guest post by Santosh Varughese, president, Cognetyx.
The U.S. healthcare industry is under siege from cyber criminals who are determined to access patient and employee data. Information security think tank Ponemon Institute’s most recent report on healthcare cyber security, published in May 2016, revealed some sobering statistics:
In the past two years, 89 percent of healthcare organizations – and 60 percent of their business associates (or BAs) – experienced at least one data breach, with 79 percent experiencing two or more breaches. The most commonly compromised data are medical records, followed by billing and insurance records. These breaches have not declined since Ponemon began tracking them in 2010.
The average cost of a healthcare data breach is about $2.2 million.
Criminal attacks, from outside the organization or from malicious insiders, account for half of all healthcare data breaches, the other half being due to mistakes by employees or BAs.
The majority of respondents (69 percent of healthcare organizations and 63 percent of BAs) feel that the healthcare industry is at greater risk of breaches than other industries. Despite these concerns, the majority of respondents reported that their organizations had either decreased their cyber security budgets or kept them the same.
Another study conducted in April by IBM, found similar problems, as well as insufficient employee training on cybersecurity best practices and a lack of commitment to information security from executive management.
With only about 10 percent of healthcare organizations not having experienced a data breach, hackers are clearly winning the healthcare data security war. However, there are proactive steps that the healthcare industry can take to turn the tide in its favor.
Data Security Starts with a Culture of Security Awareness
Both the IBM and Ponemon studies highlight an issue that experts have been talking about for some time: despite increasing dangers to information security, many healthcare organizations simply do not take cybersecurity seriously. Digital technologies are relatively new to the healthcare industry, which was very slow to adopt electronic records and when it finally did so, it implemented them rapidly without providing employees adequate training on information security procedures.
Unfortunately many front-line employees feel their only job is to treat patients and that information security is “the IT department’s problem.” These employees fail to grasp the importance of data security, and are not educated on the dangers of patient data breaches, reflected in Ponemon’s findings that employee mistakes account for half of all healthcare data breaches.
The healthcare industry needs to adjust this attitude toward cybersecurity and implement a comprehensive and ongoing information security training program, and cultivate a culture of security awareness. Information security should be included in every organization’s core values, right beside patient care. Employees should be taught that data security is part of everyone’s job, and all supervisors – from the C-suite down to the front line – should model data security best practices.
Additionally, organizations should implement physical security procedures to secure network hardware and storage media (such as flash drives and portable hard drives) through measures like maintaining a visitor log and installing security cameras, limiting physical access to server rooms, and restricting the ability to remove devices from secure area. Continue Reading
Informatica Corporation, the world’s number one independent provider of data integration software, today announced the availability of a new research report by the Ponemon Institute LLC, entitled, The State of Data Centric Security. Based on a global survey of more than 1,500 IT and IT security professionals, the study reveals how organizations understand and respond to data security threats in today’s information-everywhere world.
According to the study:
Not knowing the location of sensitive or private data is the foremost concern of today’s IT security practitioners, topping hacker attacks, malicious employees and concerns around compliance.
Organizations are in the dark regarding sensitive data, withonly 16 percent knowing where all their sensitive structured data resides, and a miniscule seven percent knowing the location of all sensitive unstructured data, including data in emails and documents.
Automated sensitive data-discovery tools would reduce risk and increase security effectiveness. The vast majority of respondents (nearly 75 percent) believe their security activities would benefit from an automated solution for discovering the locations and relationships of sensitive and private data. However, only 40 percent of organizations use an automated solution, and only 22 percent of those use it to discover sensitive data in emails and files.
Key Survey Findings
With today’s escalating threat landscape and with sensitive and private data no longer restricted to traditional enterprise boundaries, it is imperative to know data location and proliferation to protect it adequately. According to the Informatica-sponsored Ponemon study:
57 percent of respondents say not knowing where sensitive data resides keeps them up at night, followed by those who say migration to new mobile platforms (51 percent), temporary worker or contractor mistakes (50 percent) and outsourcer management of data (42 percent) are top sleep-robbing concerns.
24 percent do not know where their organization’s sensitive structured data resides, and an additional 60 percent have only limited knowledge.
41 percent do not know where their sensitive unstructured data resides, and an additional 52 percent have only limited knowledge.
Current security solutions often do not provide visibility into data location and user access, while existing data protection procedures are most often poorly conducted.
Guest post by Alex Horan is the senior product manager at CORE Security.
In 2012 we saw an increasing number of health breaches across the country – and across continents. We saw an employee’s lost laptop turn into a healthcare records breach of more than 2,000 sensitive medical records of Boston Children’s Hospital patients. We heard how one weak password allowed a hacker to access the Utah Department of Technology Services’ server and steal approximately 780,000 patients’ health and personal information. We even read about Russian hackers encrypting thousands of patient health records and holding the information for ransom for thousands of dollars.
Healthcare fraud or medical identity theft put both individuals and healthcare organizations at huge and severe risk. Since 2010, Ponemon Institute has annually benchmarked the progressing and evolving issues of patient privacy and security. The third annual study, released in December 2012, found that healthcare organizations still face an uphill battle in their efforts to stop and reduce the loss or theft of protected health information (PHI) and patient records. What’s more, data breaches can have severe economic consequences – and the repercussion costs are only climbing. The study estimates the average price tag for dealing with breaches has increased from $2.1 million in 2010 to $2.4 million in 2012. The report projects that the economic impact of continuous breaches and medical identity theft could be as high as $7 billion annually, for the healthcare industry alone.
Guest post by: Jared Rhoads, Senior Research Specialist in CSC Healthcare.
There is no gentle way to put it—cyber criminals from around the world are out to steal your personal health and financial information. And, if recent studies are an accurate reflection of the state of security in the healthcare industry then criminals have ample opportunity to do harm.
The past five years has seen rapid growth in the digitization of healthcare records and the online sharing and transmission of personal and financial data. Healthcare organizations have taken many of their information capabilities online, and they have embraced new technologies like portable media and mobile computing. However, they have not always been able to keep up with leading edge security practices.
Experts warn that the healthcare industry lags in addressing known problems and implementing basic remedies. Many hospitals and practices, for example, have been slow to encrypt their data sources properly and to deploy basic network monitoring. An investigative report by The Washington Post found cases of medical staff at hospitals using unsecured computers to connect both to internal networks and the public Internet. A 2012 government review of industry security cautioned that the way in which some organizations offer remote connectivity to physicians could introduce additional security risks.
Inadequate security practices have enabled cyber crime activity to thrive. According to the federal government, an unprecedented 21 million Americans have had information from their medical records lost or stolen since 2009. Nearly three-quarters of healthcare organizations report having experienced some kind of data breach or security incident in the past 12 months, and 94 percent of report at least one data breach in the past two years.
While not every data breach is necessarily a case of cyber crime, the incentives attracting cyber criminals to the scene are high. According to the World Privacy Forum, a stolen medical record now has a street value of roughly $50, compared to $14-18 for a credit card number or $1 for a Social Security number. Thieves use the rich medical and financial information to commit various forms of identity theft, including receiving free care, filing false patient claims to payers, and forging prescriptions.
Fortunately, medical-related cyber crime is receiving increased attention and awareness is on the rise. Healthcare organizations are beginning to move beyond simple risk assessments and venture into implementing more sophisticated anti-cyber crime solutions.
To address vulnerabilities and combat cyber crime, organizations need to take aggressive action and augment their security strategy using a variety of new approaches and technologies. Here are six ideas that all healthcare organizations can consider in 2013:
Implement automated network monitoring tools. Use automated tools to assess network vulnerabilities and monitor for breaches and unauthorized activity. Monitor key egress points to see what is being sent outside the walls of the organization, where and when it is being sent, and to whom it is being sent.
Deploy adaptive multi-factor authentication. Biometric patient identification systems based on fingerprints, palm vein patterns and other physical attributes can help guard against certain types of medical identity theft and insurance card fraud. User authentication requirements should also change dynamically based on where users are logging in from and what they are trying to access.
Consider outsourcing some or part of your security needs. Researchers at the Ponemon Institute have found that roughly a third of health organizations admit that they do not have the technology, budget or trained personnel necessary to handle today’s security challenges. Managed security service providers (MSSPs) offer a cost-effective way to have 24-hour network monitoring, incident tracking and immediate incident response.
Offer training, guidance, and approved versions of mobile apps for employees. Role-based employee training on mobile device security and guidance is critical to maintaining good security practices. Additionally, hospitals can offer enterprise versions of mobile apps and provide safely partitioned areas of the network for the apps to run upon.
Patch, secure, and monitor medical devices. Medical devices such as IV pumps, pacemakers, and bedside equipment are a new target of choice for cybercriminals seeking to wreak non-financial havoc. To combat this threat, ensure that devices are virus-free prior to installation, and encourage biomedical engineering teams to communicate freely with IT support teams.
Consider cyber insurance. New insurance products are coming to market that are designed specifically with healthcare organizations and HIPAA-covered entities in mind. Policies can defray breach-related costs, such as legal defense, privacy notification and even federal fines and penalties.
Cyber crime is a serious threat to health IT security, and it is unfortunately not going away anytime soon. However, by moving beyond the simple risk assessment and adopting a multi-faceted security strategy, prudent healthcare organizations can take significant steps to protecting their patients’ information and mitigating risk.
Jared Rhoads is a Senior Research Specialist in CSC’s Healthcare group. He consults, researches, and writes on a broad array of topics relating to healthcare technology, trends, and legislation.