The Need for Security for Healthcare IT Infrastructure & The Right Security Strategies
Data threats are the concern of every organization. IT infrastructures are becoming larger and more complex with growing data and digital needs. Due to that, there are chances of security loopholes or vulnerabilities which cybercriminals can exploit. Resulting in unauthorized data access or hijacking the system completely.
Threats like malware, ransomware, phishing, distributed denial of service (DDoS), zero-day exploit, and many more are the common cyber threats organizations have to deal with. Therefore, it is paramount to set up top-notch security strategies, especially for the healthcare sector – being that it deals with sensitive data such as protected health information. So let’s explore the different types of security strategies that should be practiced to protect the IT infrastructure of a healthcare organization.
Different Types of Security Strategies
Implementing the right security strategies help organizations protect and tackle potential cyber threats effectively. The main goals of security strategies should be to protect, detect, fight, retrieve, and track efficiently. Security strategies are of different types. The key ones are listed below:
Physical security involves setting up security measures around physical systems, servers, networks, data centers, or the whole building where the sensitive information is stored. It is observed often that organizations don’t give physical security much importance and focus more on online security. But imagine a situation when a thief enters your organization’s server room. If he is successful, he will then have access to all the sensitive records of your organization. Therefore, if an organization stores a lot of sensitive records, physical security is a must.
Some of the common physical security measures include:
- Locked steel doors
- CCTV cameras
- Unlocking of doors by biometric verification (fingerprint, face, voice, eyes, etc.)
- Picture IDs
- Security guards
- Thermal/motion alarm systems
The purpose of physical security is to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. To keep track of all personnel who access the data and log this information for any necessary audit. Physical security is also meant to protect the data from natural disasters, such as fire, flood, etc. Overall, solid physical security strategies give administrators peace of mind. With this level of protection, organizations can be rest assured their data is protected from physical threats. Next the emphasis should be on digital threats.
After physical security, the next crucial security strategy is system security. In simple words, system security implies the protection of the entire organization’s system from digital threats. It is a process of ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of the data within the system. However, it is impossible to guarantee complete system security due to the sophisticated malicious threats out there.
Some of the common system security threats are as follows:
- Data Loss: A data loss involves unintentional loss of data due to sudden accidental deletion, physical damage to the system, hardware failure, software crash, etc.
- Unauthorized Access: Unauthorized access is the penetration of an intruder into the system from any medium. Thus resulting in unauthorized access to sensitive records.
- Viruses: Viruses refer to malicious programs that can damage the system’s hardware, software, or data.
With the advancements in technology, cybercriminals are deploying more sophisticated tactics to breach through systems and cause severe damage. However, the right system security measures can still show strong resistance to such attacks. So, some of the key system security measures that are must for organizations are as follow:
- Make multiple copies of the data to retrieve them in the case of data loss.
- Set up a firewall for the organization’s network.
- Use reputed antivirus software.
- Keep the OS patched and up-to-date.
- Enforce good password management.
- Filter emails from potential phishing scams.
System security is not just a one-time thing. It demands regular enhancements in line with new threats and technologies. Only then can an organization ensure top-notch systemic security to minimize threats.
As the name implies, application security implies security measures at the application level to protect its code or data from getting lost, hijacked, or stolen. Considering the cyber-concerned world and the growing use of applications, it is important to implement application security during every stage of development from planning to deployment. The main goal of application security is to prevent attackers from accessing, deleting, or modifying data.
Some of the common application security risks are as follows:
- Improper Access Control: Improper or weak access control of an application gives room for attackers to either bypass access controls or manipulate their own permissions.
- Injection Flaws: Injection flaws empower attackers to send hostile data to the application, such as malicious commands, etc.
- Design Flaws: Design flaws imply those flaws that occurred in application architecture during designing, thereby giving room to attackers to exploit those loopholes.
- Outdated Components: Outdated components imply those components used by an application that are outdated or unpatched.
The first stage of application security begins during the development stage. With the use of secure development platforms and code scanning tools, developers can enforce best practices of application security. From the consumer side, some of the key measures of application security are as follows:
- Regularly update and patch applications.
- Ensure accurate input validation.
- Conduct penetration testing.
- Ensure authentication and access control measures.
- Properly manage privileges.
In short, application security is all about closely monitoring its vulnerable aspects and implementing security measures regularly.
Organizations not just store sensitive data, they also exchange it with others within or outside work premises. Therefore, the data on transition is also vulnerable to hijacking. The best solution is to encrypt the data both in rest and in transit.
Encryption is a way of encoding the data into ciphertext from plaintext, which is unreadable until it is decrypted with the encryption key. So, when the data is encrypted, then even if attackers get access to the data, it is of no use to them.
For encrypting file transfer data, there are three options, i.e.:
- FTPS (File Transfer Protocol Secure)
- SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol)
- HTTPS (HTTP Secure)
All these 3 encryptions are widely used for business to business or internal to external transfers. However, FTPS encryption is the fastest file transfer encryption option that utilizes Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and works on the client-server model.
Other than encrypting data in motion, it is also vital to protect data on rest. For example, if the attacker was successful in penetrating the system, the data would not be accessible due to its encrypted nature. To encrypt data at rest, strong encryption methods, such as RSA or AES are used that keep the data encrypted if the access controls fail.
Security is a fundamental part of IT infrastructure today and no organization should leave room for compromise. Above we have discussed the different types of security strategies that should be implemented to reduce the chances of cyberattacks. Along with that, an organization should also focus on conducting regular training sessions or workshops to educate employees about potential threats, especially those that involve tricking employees, such as phishing, social engineering, etc. To sum up, security measures do require time, effort, and investment, but they do provide great protection from the ever-growing cyber threats.