Achieving Information Security in Healthcare

Dan Costantino, CISO, Penn Medicine

Dan Costantino, CISO, Penn Medicine

Owing to the growing concerns of patient data security, it’s indispensable for the healthcare experts to reassess their information security programs on a continual basis as it matures. It is critical to scrutinize whether you have implemented fundamental security controls and practices, such as patching, apart from identification and security awareness. Consistently networking with CISOs in the industry is one of the best practices to ensure that you are going in the right direction, performing a part of the essentials that you ought to be. It’s also imperative to frequently have an expert assist you in understanding if you are allocating your resources in the right places, investing in the right asset, and focusing on the right risks and threats. Often, it takes an external firm that can give you inputs on better resource utilizationon a yearly premise, to help advance your program.

Evolution of the Role of CISO

Lately, the role of a CISO has changed significantly. Who was once viewed as simply the leader of IT security systems, the CISO, is a critical stakeholder in the business now. This is because of the increase in data breach threats and a more profound understanding of data security at a broader level which was earlier restricted to technical systems and IT systems. Likewise, they are required to have a significant comprehension of the business and its mission while also possessing a solid technical acumen.

"Owing to the growing concerns of patient data security, it’s indispensable for the healthcare experts to reassess their information security program"

Key Challenges of a CISO in the Healthcare Industry

In the healthcare industry, CISOs are facing a lot of unique challenges today. The most significant challenge is the need to design a secure environment while not compromising patient care in any way. It’s really important for CISOs and information security teams to be cognizant of all that the clinical personnel and researchers are doing every day. They also need to understand that our patients come to us because of all the innovative work and miracles that these clinicians and researchers are performing. It’s our responsibility to support that mission while maintaining the safety of our patients’ data. That’s very challenging and unique in the healthcare information security arena.

See Also: Healthcare Business Review

The healthcare information security landscape is witnessing major technological developments. One of the primary developments is the never-ending list of storage repositories and a record of where data is transmitted to, including IoT, cloud, mobile, and medical devices. The challenge is that we live in an environment where there is no longer a well-defined perimeter to protect. Hence, there exists the challenge of protecting data that is leaving the internal environment on a more frequent basis. Today, information systems are inherently designed for information sharing and availability; introducing an added challenge to securing them.

Application of Behavioral Analytics on Insider Threats within Organizations

The industry, in general, is facing a major challenge due to insider threats. Often, these threats are not really malevolent moves that are being made by employees; it isn’t a workforce with malicious intentions. Typically, insider threat is the result of unwitting actions by the employee due to the fact that cyber security is not their primary expertise or role in the organization. One of the challenges is when employees work in an environment for a long period of time, they develop a strong sense of ownership in the data. When it’s time for those employees to leave, it’s not unusual for them to feel like they own the data that’s created. Yet the ownership lies within the organization and needs to remain within the organizational context. The behavioral analytics platforms today and the application of it, is truly being the emphasis on the insider threat. It’s necessary to understand the key pointers or behaviors that the workflow is demonstrating. A string of key behaviors combined with each other can most likely give us some proactive insights into a harmful event that could take place later on, whereas we are currently trying to be reactionary after that incident has already taken place.

Advice to an Aspiring CISO

It’s an absolute must to build a team that has the capability of performing not only the everyday security tasks, but also becoming ingrained in the strategy and the development of the overall program.

Something that security industry is good at, but still has room for enhancement, is information sharing— sharing information with all security personnel, not just what we are doing well, but also some of the adverse situations that we are seeing within the industry. Information sharing truly comes from various distinctive sources. One of them is through networking; another source is NH-ISAC. The information sharing happens throughout the industry, not simply with security pioneers, but also with security engineers, analysts, and regular professionals.

The objective should be to build a world-class security program and create next-generation security levels in your program. A CISO need not contemplate implementing cutting-edge security from the very beginning. It is really essential to start from the fundamentals.

See Also: Top Healthcare Technology Companies

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