Last updated at Thu, 10 Aug 2023 22:02:52 GMT

How to Stay Secure in the Cloud While Driving Innovation and Discovery

The healthcare industry is undergoing a transformational shift. Health organizations are traditionally entrenched in an on-prem way of life, but the past three years have plunged them into a digital revolution. A heightened demand for improved healthcare services—like distributed care and telehealth—ignited a major push for health orgs to move to the cloud, and as a result, implement new cloud security strategies.

But the processes and tools that worked well to secure healthcare organizations' traditional data centers do not directly translate to the public cloud. Resource and budget strain, priority negotiation with leadership, and challenges with regulatory compliance only exacerbate a daunting digital maturity gap. These challenges are why many healthcare organizations have approached public cloud adoption tentatively.

The healthcare industry must innovate in the cloud to meet patient and business needs, but they need to do so without creating unnecessary or unmanaged risk. Most importantly, they must move to and adopt cloud solutions securely to protect patients in a new world of digital threats.

Major Cloud Security Challenges

Modern technologies bring modern challenges. Here are the main obstacles healthcare organizations face when it comes to cloud security.

Resource Strain

Like most industries, healthcare organizations face major obstacles when finding qualified security talent. That means hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare businesses must compete with tech giants, startups, and other more traditionally cybersecurity-savvy companies for the best and brightest minds on the market.

What's more challenging is that the typical day of a security professional in healthcare tends to be disproportionately focused on time-consuming and often monotonous tasks. These duties are often related to maintaining and reporting on compliance with a sea of regulatory standards and requirements. Carrying out these repetitive but necessary tasks can quickly lead to burnout—and, as a result, turnover.

Moreover, those security professionals who do end up working within healthcare organizations can quickly find themselves inundated with more work than any one person is capable of handling. Small teams are tasked with securing massive amounts of sensitive data—both on-prem and as it moves into the cloud. And sometimes, cybersecurity departments at healthcare orgs can be as small as a CISO and a few analysts.

Those challenges with resource strain can lead to worse problems for security teams, including:

  • Burnout and rapid turnover, as discussed above
  • Slow MTTR, exacerbating the impact of breaches
  • Shadow IT, letting vulnerable assets fall through the cracks

Balancing Priorities With Leadership

It's up to cybersecurity professionals to connect the dots for leadership on how investing in cloud security leads to greater ROI and less risk. Decision-makers in the healthcare industry are already juggling a great deal—and those concerns can be, quite literally, a matter of life or death.

In the modern threat landscape, poor cybersecurity health also has the potential to mean life or death. As medical science tools become more sophisticated, they're also becoming more digitally connected. That means malicious actors who manage to infiltrate and shut down servers could also possibly shut down life-saving technology.

Tech professionals must illustrate to stakeholders how cybersecurity risk is interconnected with business risk and—perhaps most importantly—patient risk. To do that, they must regularly engage with and educate leadership to effectively balance priorities.

Achieving that perfect balance includes meeting leadership where they're at. In healthcare, what is typically the biggest security concern for leaders? The answer: Meeting the necessary compliance standards with every new technology investment.

HIPAA Compliance and Protected Health Information

For stakeholders, achieving, maintaining, and substantiating legal and regulatory compliance is of critical importance. When it comes to the healthcare industry, one compliance standard often reigns supreme over all business decisions: HIPAA.

HIPAA provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding Protected Health Information (PHI). It addresses the use and disclosure of individuals' health information and requires that sensitive information be governed by strict data security and confidentiality. It also obligates organizations to provide PHI to patients upon request.

When migrating to the cloud, healthcare organizations need a centralized approach to protecting sensitive data. InsightCloudSec allows you to automate compliance with HIPAA. Through our HIPAA Compliance Pack, InsightCloudSec provides dozens of out-of-the-box checks that map back to specific HIPAA requirements. For example, InsightCloudSec's “Snapshot With PHI Unencrypted" policy supports compliance with HIPAA §164.312(a)(2)(iv), Encryption Controls.

Experience Gap

An evolving threat landscape and growing attack surface are challenging enough to deal with for even the most experienced security professionals. Add the health industry's talent gap into the mix, and those challenges are multiplied.

Cloud security in the healthcare space is still relatively new. That means internal cybersecurity teams are not only playing a relentless game of catch-up—they also might consist of more traditional network engineers and IT pros who have historically been tasked with securing on-premises environments.

This makes it critical that the cloud security solutions healthcare industries implement be user-friendly, low-maintenance, and ultra-reliable.

Cloud Security Solutions and Services

As health organizations dive into work in the cloud, their digital footprints will likely grow far faster than their teams can keep up with. Visibility into these cloud environments is essential to an organization's ability to identify, assess, prioritize, and remediate risk. Without a clear picture of what they have and where they have it, companies can be vulnerable to malicious attacks.

To avoid biting off more than they can chew, security professionals in healthcare must leverage cloud security strategies and solutions that grant them complete real-time visibility in the cloud over all their most sensitive assets. Enterprise cloud security tools like InsightCloudSec can enable automated discovery and inventory assessment. That unlocks visibility across all their CSPs and containers.

InsightCloudSec also makes it easier for teams, regardless of their cloud security expertise, to effectively define, implement, and enforce security guardrails. With resource normalization, InsightCloudSec removes the need for security teams to learn and keep track of an ever-expanding list of cloud resources and services. Security teams can make use of InsightCloudSec's native, no-code automation to enable hands-off enforcement of their organization's security practices and policies when a non-compliant resource is created or a risk configuration change is made.

The fact of the matter is that many healthcare security teams will need to build their cybersecurity programs from the ground up. With limited resources, strained budgets, and patients' lives on the line, they can't afford to make big mistakes. That's why, for many organizations, partnering with a managed service provider is the right approach.

Rapid7's managed services relieve security teams from the strain of running and building cloud security frameworks. They can also help healthcare security pros better connect lack of investment with risks to stakeholders—acting as an external set of experts.

The Bottom Line

Staying continuously secure in the cloud can be daunting, particularly for those responsible for not only sensitive medical, patient, and research data, but also the digitally connected machines and tools that ensure top-of-the-line patient care. Protecting the health of patients is paramount in the healthcare industry.

With the right tools (and teams) to support continuous security and compliance, this responsibility becomes manageable—and even, dare we say, easy.


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