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November 11, 2020 By Davor Karafiloski

Data security a major concern in healthcare: How to prevent data breaches with SOAR

Over 1.5 million records across 39 healthcare databases were breached in February 2020 alone. And in the month of September, that number drastically rose to 9.7 million healthcare records being exposed in data breaches. So, let’s just say that data security in healthcare institutions is exposed to more danger now than ever before.

Other than complying with regulatory requirements set by HIPAA and other regulations, such as the GDPR, healthcare organizations need to consider reinforcing their cybersecurity defenses with stellar technologies such as SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation and Response). And considering that the cost of data breaches has risen from $3 trillion in 2017 to $6 trillion in 2020, the time to act is now.

Read on and find out how to manage alarms as they arrive in real-time, easily handle all aspects of the incidents in order to minimize response time, and improve your SOPs with SOAR to successfully prevent data breaches in healthcare organizations.

How safe is data security in healthcare institutions?

With cyber attacks on the rise, healthcare data security has never been more important. Given that cyber attackers are developing more sophisticated tools to attack healthcare institutions and breach sensitive data, healthcare organizations are in need of equally advanced technologies to match those attacks:

  • Medical records

  • Social security numbers

  • Insurance-related information

  • Names

  • Birth dates

  • Home addresses

And other personal data is at stake when a data breach occurs. And considering that the job of a medical institution is to ensure the safety of sensitive, personally identifiable data of its patients, such horrid data breaches should ring the alarms of every healthcare institution.

But while everyone is busy seeking the answer, no one is looking at the problem.

The rapid progress in technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it provides medical facilities with fantastic digital capabilities, allowing healthcare professionals to achieve previously incomprehensible success in terms of medical achievements - exceeding heights we didn’t even know existed mere decades ago.

On the other hand, the more intrinsic technology becomes in healthcare institutions, the more data is stored in medical facilities. And as a result, this makes healthcare institutions more lucrative targets for hackers, who use the same advancement of technology we use for digital breakthroughs to attack medical facilities and breach sensitive data.

The irony isn’t lost on us. While we strive toward technological perfection, those same technological achievements are used for malicious purposes by hackers. So, as advanced as healthcare data security may be, the presence of potential vulnerabilities will always exist.

In short, every dawn of a new age of technology will give birth to a new set of problems. Problems we can’t shake that easily and problems that are strongly felt in healthcare institutions.

How can data protection be secured in healthcare institutions?

Data security is an ongoing issue that many healthcare institutions have been coping with ever since the age of digitization stepped foot in the world.

In fact, over 2,100 healthcare data breaches have occurred in the U.S since 2009. And globally, hospitals account for over 30% of all data breaches. So, it comes as no surprise that data security is a top priority for every healthcare facility around the world.

But how can healthcare data be 100% secure? And is that even possible?

Securing healthcare data can never be completely accomplished, once and for all. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant tweaking and updating of the system responsible for storing healthcare data. It’s like an eternal dead race where you have to always give your best to stay one step ahead of hackers if you want to remain ahead.

So, to answer the question of how can data protection be secured in healthcare institutions, we have to analyze the following:

  • Cybersecurity awareness: Medical professionals must be wary of the risk posed by potential data breaches. That is why healthcare professionals must be trained in proper data security practices, as employee cybersecurity awareness training becomes a top priority for healthcare institutions.

  • Progressive technologies: Advanced cyber threats provoke the necessity of advanced defensive mechanisms. And the current pace at which cyber threats are evolving, healthcare institutions must seek salvation in progressive technologies that are created to specifically combat the most evolving threats in the modern world.

  • Protect Industrial environment: Manufacturing is increasing the efficiency thanks to the connection with IT improvement, but this open OT networks to attacks. Firms need instruments that permit them to manage both environments in a unique SOC. In this situation, SOAR can help in the improvement of the collaboration between IT and OT departments, allowing the former to gain visibility in industrial processes and the latter to limit the gaps inherent in skills.

  • Complying with HIPAA rules: HIPAA or Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act presents a set of rules and guidelines which implement risk assessment and risk management programs that address any potential vulnerabilities in the healthcare data security area. Complying with these regulations is imperative for healthcare institutions, as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has considerably increased the enforcement of HIPAA.

Establishing policies that are specifically meant to oversee that all procedures are being carried out in compliance with your cyber awareness regulations is monumental.

Preparing your healthcare professionals for potential cyber threats can provide medical facilities with a better defense system against ever-evolving cyber attacks. But all the cybersecurity awareness would be in vain if healthcare professionals are not backed with the right technologies.

And the best technology that can confront sophisticated cyber threats is SOAR.

Data security in healthcare: SOAR to the rescue

You might be wondering why we have chosen SOAR out of the plethora of novel technologies as the ideal solution for data breaches in healthcare institutions.

There is a very simple explanation as to why SOAR is deemed as an invaluable asset in the heart of every modern SOC team, including SOCs in healthcare institutions:

  • False positives: One of the main strategies modern hackers use is to bombard healthcare institutions with a lot of false positives (false attacks) in hopes to drown their SOC team in an endless sea of alerts. And while analysts are busy checking the credibility of those false positives, hackers strike their real attack. And given that analysts can’t possibly go through every alert in time, the chances of missing the real threat are big.

  • Poor incident response time: The goal of attacking healthcare institutions with false positives is so that hackers can slow down the reaction time of analysts. With the high volumes of alerts directed toward the organization, analysts will take hours, days, and sometimes even weeks to properly assess every alert. By that time, hackers will have already caused the intended damage.

  • Alert fatigue: Dealing with huge volumes of alerts over longer periods of time is very tiresome for analysts. And without a proper solution in place, alert fatigue, a commonality among SOCs nowadays, will definitely take place and the analysts will be tempted to resign if the conditions aren’t improved.

Now, how does SOAR help in these three areas, in particular?

Firstly, SOAR, which stands for Security Orchestration, Automation and Response, relies on a machine learning engine which implements automation in various SecOps. SOAR uses the power of automation to differentiate between false positives and real threats without the need for human intervention, thus directly removing the often insurmountable burden off of analysts’ shoulders.

SOAR will literally do the job for analysts by checking the characteristics of a certain alert, and thanks to its AI-enhanced machine learning engine, it has the ability to verify the degree of danger a certain alert poses. This way, analysts will no longer be required to go through every alert in a manual, mind-numbing manner. SOAR will do the job for them.

Furthermore, thanks to its orchestration powers, SOAR enhances the collaboration within a SOC team in healthcare institutions, allowing them to pick up the pace and respond to threats in a faster manner.

Cloud SOAR, for instance, has an astonishing track record of improving the incident response time of SOC teams by 80% and increasing the overall productivity of security professionals by 10x.

By deploying incident response plans, workflows, and various processes specifically crafted for healthcare institutions, Cloud SOAR provides medical professionals with thorough breach reports and features specialized playbooks that can tackle even the most complex data breaches in healthcare institutions.

Learn more about the powers of Cloud SOAR and the invaluable role it plays in every modern SOC environment.

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Davor Karafiloski

Davor Karafiloski

SEO and Content Marketing Specialist

More posts by Davor Karafiloski.

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