Organizations that operate in the healthcare industry are frequently targeted by cybercriminals because health-related information is worth millions of dollars in the black market. Naturally, cybercriminals attack every company that collects, stores, transmits, and receives confidential health information. When cybercriminals manage to steal health-related confidential data, there can be devastating results for the target company. For instance, this company’s reputation can be damaged top to bottom as affected parties can’t access their medical records. That’s why, after a data breach, the recovery process might take years.
Additionally, the monetary costs of losing health-related confidential information are extremely high. Today, the protection of confidential health information is strictly regulated under international and local compliance laws, and standards. Regulators apply extremely high amounts of fines and penalties for each violation of security requirements and data breaches.
For instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulators can apply fines between 500.000 to 1.5 million dollars according to the severity of violation and data breach in the United States. That’s why safeguarding health-related confidential data and ePHI is really important for companies in the healthcare industry.
Without proper, up-to-date security measures, companies in this industry can fall victim to data breaches easily. In this regard, implementing Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) security solutions can be a good start for establishing a strong cybersecurity posture. When we consider existing cyber threats, implementation of Zero Trust in healthcare is quite needed. Before explaining the core capabilities of Zero Trust further, let’s look at what is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).
What Is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is a modern and holistic approach to network security. This framework has been around since 2009, but the concept of Zero Trust dates back to the 1990s. Zero Trust is built upon the idea “never trust, always verify”, this architecture assumes that every entity that requests access to corporate networks or resources is hostile and can’t be trusted. For this reason, all entities must be authenticated and authorized prior to their access.
Zero Trust eliminates the ideas of a traditional network perimeter and implicit trust. Zero Trust demands authentication in every access step via multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), and biometrics tools. These authentication tools add another layer of security to every access step and safeguard identities.
For example, biometric authentication tools might require users to scan their iris, or fingerprints while Multi-factor authentication tools might demand SMS authentication codes or in-app approvals. In this regard, MFA and biometric authentication tools guarantee that only authorized users, devices, and applications can access corporate networks and resources.
Additionally, Zero Trust adopts the least-privilege principle and enforces security policies based on this principle. In the Zero Trust work environment, all employees regardless of their titles have limited access to corporate resources, and inside the network perimeter, they can’t move laterally or access sensitive corporate resources. So, all employees are only allowed to access necessary resources related to their daily duties, and tasks, nothing more. The least privilege principle of Zero Trust can help companies mitigate security risks associated with internal entities as it restricts access to sensitive data and resources. So, it prevents potential data breaches that can stem from human error.
Core Capabilities of Zero Trust
1- Network Segmentation
Zero Trust employs network segmentation to mitigate the cybersecurity risks and dispense the network traffic. Network segmentation is a process of separating a network into smaller sub-networks and creating several checkpoints for users, devices, or applications inside the network perimeter. For instance, a company’s individual departments can be segmented differently so that each segment can maintain lighter network traffic and prevent network congestion issues.
In another example, a company’s machinery can be segmented and separated from others. When we consider companies in the healthcare industry are heavily dependent on a wide variety of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and medical devices, network segmentation can prevent harmful traffic and cyber-attacks from reaching these devices, or cyber criminals can’t execute an attack via using these vulnerable devices.
In essence, network segmentation reduces the surface areas of possible cyber attacks because, in the event of a cyber attack, malicious actors can’t move between segments and roam inside the network perimeter. This enables a rapid response to cyber attacks. With network segmentation, companies can hide sub-segments that contain health-related confidential information from others, and isolate cyber threats before they can reach these areas. Lastly, the network segmentation process can be used to create different segments and access portals for third-party entities to access corporate networks, so that cybercriminals won’t be able to conduct an attack via compromised third-party sites.
2- Activity and Behavior Monitoring
Today, companies need security features that deliver wider visibility, monitoring and surveillance in order to maintain integrated network security. Zero Trust enables all of these features and helps companies identify who accesses their networks on which devices from where and when. It matches users’ IDs with the devices they use and doesn’t allow access when users try to access corporate networks on unknown devices. By all means, Zero Trust provides wider visibility and control over the corporate networks.
IT admins can automate activity and behavior monitoring policies and provide real-time or historical data on user activities and behaviors. When a user is involved with suspicious activity or performs abnormal and unusual behavior, the Zero Trust system alerts IT admins immediately. This way, it allows IT admins to take action at once, and see what is going on inside the network perimeter in real-time. Shortly, the activity and behavior monitoring capabilities of Zero Trust mitigate the security risks related to an organization’s internal staff.
3- Securing Devices
The Zero Trust framework can secure employees’ devices and prevent compromised devices from accessing corporate networks. This architecture employs Network Access Control (NAC) solutions to enforce security policies, authenticate and authorize users and devices access to corporate networks or facilitate guest network access. NAC solutions allow IT admins to put security requirements and access permissions for every user, device, or application. So, all users and devices that don’t meet security and compliance requirements are denied access to corporate networks. This way, Zero Trust prevents the possible attacks that can be executed via compromised end-point devices.
Today, companies that operate in the healthcare industry are up against increased risks of cyber attacks. This sector is one of the primary targets of cyber criminals as health-related confidential data is worth a lot of money in the black market. To combat cybercriminals, and safeguard all corporate assets, organizations need modern security solutions like Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).