The safest data security approach for the healthcare industry

22 Jun, 2022 5 min read
Grace Cao
Grace Cao
Technical Product Marketing Manager
If you’re looking for a reason to make protecting legacy systems a priority for your healthcare organization, we’ve got 9.23 million for you. That’s the total number of US dollars lost by the healthcare sector to data breaches alone in 2021– and that number is increasing year on year. In fact, the healthcare sector has been the target of the costliest data breaches of all sectors – including financial, technology, and services – for 11 years.

Why? Because the nature of healthcare data makes it highly lucrative for hackers. Personal health information (PHI) is much for valuable than personal identifiable information (PII) on the black market because cybercriminals can blackmail victims to keep their medical records private or use them to commit healthcare and insurance fraud. Data laundering is also another way for attackers to profit off data stolen by selling PHI back to the institutions they were stolen from.

Healthcare providers are, of course, stepping up to improve their data protection. From increasing cybersecurity awareness and training amongst staff to purchasing cyber insurance to implementing the latest tools and solutions from big-name vendors and experts, they’ve tried them all. Yet, despite these multiple measures, healthcare institutions still remain vulnerable to data theft.

That’s because one of the biggest security challenges identified in the industry is its heavy reliance on legacy systems – their biggest risk areas remain loss or theft of devices containing unencrypted data, and the transmission of unsecured records across networks. It was found that 83% of devices used in the US healthcare system are running on outdated and unsecured operating systems, including unpatched systems and commercial add-on software, leaving them highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. So, what can healthcare organizations do to secure their legacy systems from data breaches and costly cyberattacks?

Legacy systems and their inherent data security challenges

To better solve data vulnerabilities, it’s important to first understand the security challenges of legacy systems operating in a modern environment.

The first challenge is that these systems are currently working in a more open environment than they were originally designed for. Legacy systems are great for securing data within their domain – not so much once that data leaves their borders. The modern reality, however, requires that both internal employees and external partners have access to data within these systems; cloud-based data-sharing is now the norm for most organizations, whether it’s to ensure smooth operations or to collaborate more closely with third parties, especially so in the age of telemedicine and remote work due to COVID-19.

The second challenge is that the very nature of legacy systems makes them incompatible with software or hardware updates needed to accommodate new-age security requirements and compliance needs. This is something that no amount of cutting-edge, AI-powered cybersecurity technology can solve.

The back-to-basics approach to data security

As cybercriminals continue increasing in numbers and strength, the threat of a security breach is constantly growing. This means that, unfortunately, stopping a breach from occurring at all is not impossible as it’s only a matter of time before your institution is targeted. And by the time a data loss has been identified, it’s almost impossible to salvage the reputational and financial repercussions.

This is why we believe that the safest bet for protecting your patients and your organization is to secure what’s most valuable – the data itself. Our enterprise-grade SecureAge Security Suite technology does exactly that by using PKI-based File Level Encryption (FLE) to guarantee protection for every file, in every place, at every time, whether in storage, in transit, or in use.

This is what makes SecureAge unique from all other FLE solution providers in the market. While other solutions only protect some of your data some of the time, SecureData secures all of your data, at every endpoint, all of the time. Other encryption products also tend to rely solely on symmetric encryption, which means that a single encryption key is all that’s required to unlock any Data for any purpose. Our encryption requires both a user and a file-specific key to decrypt the Data, so that anything that gets stolen remains unintelligible and useless to the attacker.

Most importantly, our FLE solution is deployed without disruption to legacy systems and applications, making encryption a natural and invisible part of the user experience with no discernable disruption to your business operations.

The data security stakes are only getting higher for the healthcare sector

The rise of telehealth and telemedicine has brought new privacy and security risks – IoMT devices, health apps, and conferencing platforms are increasing the number of data-theft opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit. This is especially so with unsecured, non-HIPAA-compliant channels being used for communications, and doctors often saving PHI on their personal devices.

The growing use of vaccine passports also makes it a prime target for cybercriminals who wish to doctor (no pun intended) existing records or counterfeit certificates – fake vaccination certificates are already being sold for around US$150 on the dark web, indicative of how lucrative this market can be and how dangerous data vulnerability is to public health and safety.

This is why governing and regulatory bodies around the world have responded by imposing stricter compliance measures to ensure that patient data remains private and secure. For healthcare organizations, however, this means the need to shift focus from simply reactive cybersecurity measures to more proactive ones – or risk being at the lagging end of data security and compliance.

SecureAge: The data security ally for healthcare organizations

The best practice for healthcare organizations today is to assume that data theft attempts, whether internal or external, are an inevitable part of the modern operating environment. With new working practices, new digital tools and platforms, and increasing demand for access to live data, keeping your data locked up behind silos and cumbersome security processes is not the best way forward.

Instead, it’s more effective and future-proof to secure your data at the file level, so that every bit of information, whether stored in legacy systems or otherwise, remains constantly protected. With SecureAge’s unique approach to encryption, you can seamlessly integrate encryption into your existing workflow and make it an inherent property of your Data. Best of all? Our solution is HIPAA-compliant.

Check out our whitepaper to find out more about data security challenges and solutions for the healthcare industry, or get in touch with us to book a demo and see our SecureAge Security Suite in action yourself.

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