Healthcare Cybersecurity Framework
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Healthcare Cybersecurity Framework

7 min
Dec 30 2020

Why do hospitals need a cybersecurity organization?

Technologies are increasingly integrated into the work of the health care structure. This makes medicine progressive and effective treatment.
But, this poses a threat of cyberattacks to the hospital's servers. This is fraught with theft of data from medical personnel, patient histories and other important information. In most countries, information that is stored in medical institutions is prohibited from distribution.
For example, if information about the health of many patients gets on the Internet, this can attract not only drug sellers, but also dangerous people:
  • Black market sellers;
  • Fraudsters;
  • Blackmailers who will try to redeem and disclose data on the health of a person (if we are talking about an influential person).
And many other dangerous people who can harm patients and the clinic. In order for the healthcare sector not to be afraid to introduce modern technologies into its work, it needs to ensure cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity system design

The cybersecurity framework builds on existing and proven guidelines and practices. Frameworks help support ready-made cybersecurity scenarios.
Frameworks are a software platform that defines the structure of software and makes it easier to develop or combine different plugins.
Like any software platform, the framework must be flexible to updates. If the clinic does not update the program it runs on, it increases the risk of a cyber attack.
Therefore, one of the key tasks of the clinic is to identify direct and potential risks.
  • Direct risks are the risks of a cyber attack that is already taking place and damaging the program. The most undesirable scenario is when a clinic starts reacting to danger when their software is already damaged.
  • Potential risks are the development of actions and a system of protection against cyber attacks and inaccuracies in the operation of software, when the situation is under control and there is no hint of a cyber attack.
Software hardening occurs at three different levels of the framework:
  • The core of the framework is the server side of the software. Protection at this level is carried out by strengthening the accessibility to the application code, limiting the transfer of information and protecting against rewriting the code of key application functions.
  • Personnel site management - this level reflects the impact on the site of the clinic workers, namely the application administrators. What movements were inside the site, what information is opened by users most often - all these statistics allow us to develop a more thorough security policy. It is the active traffic and strange bugs of the site that allow you to identify risks.
  • Personal profiles - user registration and actions within a profile can be tracked. Suspicious profiles can be a reason to check the entire security system. In addition, user profiles are, an additional circle of protection for the site.
Healthcare cybersecurity framework
Many doctors in clinics around the world may not be convinced that they need a security system. This is due to the fact that software administrators are not bothered by updates. Without updates, they don't see outbreaks of suspicious activity and hacker activity until it's too late.
Recently, cases of cyber attacks on sites have increased due to the pandemic. This is because there have been an increase in orders for hackers of various levels to hack a patient's medical records in order to find out more precisely about his treatment or the causes of death. Also, small sabotage of software is carried out by people who are just trying themselves in the role of hackers. In 2020, due to a ransomware program, a hospital in the United States had to transfer a patient to another institution. But due to the fact that the time was spent on transport, the patient died, according to the news portal NBC News.
Another major cyberattack occurred in September 2020 on Universal Health Services. This company provides hospital and medical services by integrating software into their work. In September, a number of hospitals were attacked by ransomware. This led to a partial stop of the work of the institutions and their transition to the mode of recording the current treatment on sheets of paper.
These cases highlight the importance of developing a cybersecurity framework. How to start developing a framework that will suit your organization? To identify the best features, it is worth looking at software that works well.
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  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework
  • Leader of US cybersecurity that has held its position for over 5 years. The NIST Infrastructure provides a governance structure for a private organization's leadership, allowing them to assess the current state of the software and decide which plug-in they need with an upgrade. This helps companies to display, respond, and in most cases defuse cyberattacks.
  • This company provides a certified software structure that creates a set of functions for medical organizations. This allows hospitals to store and exchange data, including confidential data. They can also create levels of access to this or that information. This program has been criticized for its expensive maintenance and a very cumbersome interface that is difficult to understand.
  • Critical Security Controls
  • This program is aimed at protecting software. Protection is carried out by prioritizing access to this or that information, focusing fewer actions with high results. That is, in the event of a burst of activity or attempts to invade the software code, the program is capable of blocking a certain part of the site. Also, this software generates reports, which reflects potential threats to the company's software.
There are other frameworks for healthcare cybersecurity. However, they have less impact on the US health care system. Knowing this data, you can understand what exactly is required from the framework and what functions are right for your company.

How to integrate and use frameworks in healthcare cybersecurity system?

In order to integrate the framework into the work of the clinic, it is necessary to understand the level of threats that are potentially possible for a medical organization. These threats form a toolkit that can be integrated into the program for convenient and high-quality work.
As of 2020, the most common security threats in the medical field are:
How to integrate and use frameworks in healthcare cybersecurity system
  • Human factors and unintentional mistakes. These errors are carried out by hospital staff due to accident or deliberate sabotage. Most often, random errors occur due to the complex interface of the program. This makes it clear that the framework should have an intuitive interface and pop-up warnings about the wrong actions of the clinic employee. Also, it is worth integrating the training system into the program. You can use the experience of social networks, which describe how exactly the program should work and at what capacities.
  • Ransomware. According to the Comparitech portal, in 2016, 172 ransomware cyberattacks were carried out on US healthcare organizations. This resulted in a loss of $ 157 million. At the time of 2020, these statistics are more difficult to calculate due to the increased mass and variety of penetration of ransomware into the polyclinic system. Often, such programs succeed in performing this action due to theft of assets or accidental distribution of access keys. Very often, penetration is also due to advertising. In this case, it is necessary to establish the levels of information accessibility and blocking of arbitrary advertising. It is better to make the advertising process manageable for the clinic.
  • Mass attack. When a lot of users visit the site, it starts to work poorly. When a load of users deliberately occurs on it, it can break down and give access to these hackers. In order to avoid this, the company must take care of a standard security system, collect statistics on users entering the site (whether bots have entered the site) and update the amount of cloud storage.
  • Refusal of professional support.Many clinics are moving away from in-house programmers and costly, highly supported cybersecurity programs to save money. This jeopardizes the website of the medical institution, since medical personnel will not be able to recognize and repel a cyberattack if they want to. To avoid this danger, it is necessary to explain to the management of the clinic the possible threats and consequences from them. This is partly what this article is about.
  • Safety risk from medical devices. More and more medical equipment integrates with computers to quickly transfer information about the patient's condition. These handy features also carry some cybersecurity risks. Virus, malware, and other harmful programs may be placed on the media device that may harm the main site and the medical device. To avoid this risk, an instantaneous device verification system is required. And if a change from the usual algorithm occurs in the code, it is necessary to enable notification about the abnormal operation of the program.
These risks were revealed by additional framework plugins that must be on the clinic's sites to ensure cybersecurity. We will indicate them separately:
  • Intuitive interface;
  • Pop-up warnings about incorrect actions of the clinic employee; Integration of the training system;
  • Levels of information availability for a specific employee;
  • Blocking third-party ads;
  • Providing a standard security system;
  • Collecting statistics on users entering the site;
  • Refresh the amount of cloud storage from time to time;
  • An instant system for checking the device for changing the standard code and algorithm of action.
How to integrate and use frameworks in healthcare cybersecurity system 1
If you recall the information above about the 3 levels of the framework, then in combination with the listed tools of the form, the general structure is necessary for health cybersecurity.
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Let's discuss your idea

You have a choice: use ready-made solutions or develop a framework for your individual order, which will allow you to conveniently, accessible and understandably see the state of the site and not worry about potential threats.
Exceed Team is ready to discuss your idea and answer additional questions that you might have while writing this article. You can read in our blog about how to develop applications, what the cost consists of, and what other additional features you can integrate into the site.
If you want to know the exact cost of creating your framework - write to us.. We will study your project and advise on all emerging issues.
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