But let’s see where it comes from.
The security challenges facing healthcare organizations are becoming increasingly daunting. Cybercriminals are more organized than ever and are even using techniques employed by legitimate IT companies, such as project management and custom development best practices. Some organized cybercrime teams have reached a level of expertise equivalent to that of a specialist penetration testing unit.
According to Black Kite’s 2023 Third-Party Breach Report, healthcare was the industry most affected by attacks in 2022. Last year, 34.9% of attacks targeted the healthcare industry, 33% more than in 2021.
To address these growing threats, many healthcare organizations are adopting a zero-trust security approach that requires all users, inside and outside an organization’s network, to be continuously authenticated, authorized, and validated for configuration and the security posture before being able to access applications and data.
The impetus for this trend comes from multiple directions. A key factor is a 2021 executive order from President Biden that established a zero-trust strategy for the federal government. The policy requires agencies to meet specific security standards by the end of 2024. The Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency published the latest update to its Zero Trust Maturity Model in April, adding new guidance for organizations that want to implement this approach.
Adoption by the federal government has spurred widespread implementation of zero trust in the private sector as executives and boards of directors, including in healthcare, apply pressure on IT teams to address security threats. “Government adoption of zero-trust architecture is really driving momentum in the commercial space,” says John Candillo, CISO of CDW Field.
TO READ: CDW White Paper “Getting Zero-Trust Architecture Right for Security and Governance”.
Understanding zero trust is essential to healthcare success
As they strive to implement a zero-trust approach, healthcare organizations and their IT teams must understand that it’s a process, not a destination. An organization’s steps toward zero trust will evolve as numerous factors change, including the organization’s business needs, the threats it faces, and the security solutions it uses.
“There are a lot of great solutions that can help,” says CDW Chief Security Technologist Jeremiah Salzberg. “But it’s important to remember that zero trust is more of an architectural strategy than a specific product or technology.”
The benefits of zero trust extend beyond an improved security posture, says Jeremy Weiss, an executive security strategist at CDW. Implementing zero-trust principles can help healthcare organizations reduce their technical debt and create more efficient operational processes. Because the approach uses network segmentation, application developers can operate securely at a faster rate than they could otherwise.
The zero-trust implementation process also provides much clearer visibility into an IT environment than most healthcare organizations have, Salzberg says.
Health IT teams are better able to see the dependencies between different systems and applications and understand how they communicate and interact. “We’ve seen some improvements in overall stability and efficiency in environments where they’ve moved to a zero-trust architecture,” says Salzberg.
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Three key elements of zero trust
As they work to implement a zero-trust approach, health IT teams should focus on three essential elements:
- Visibility: IT teams need to know what data an organization has, where it resides, where it is transmitted, how it is used and who has access to it.
- Identity: An organization must be able to confidently determine the identity of users accessing specific data sets, particularly patient data.
- Governance: An organization must have rules about what data it holds, how it is accessed and transmitted, who is granted access and how they prove their identity. In addition, the organization must have mechanisms to enforce these rules.
With many healthcare organizations moving data and workloads to the cloud, especially in software-as-a-service deployments, maintaining visibility and control can be a significant challenge.
“It’s hard to understand what’s actually in your environment, which systems should be talking and which systems are actually talking,” says Salzberg. “All this analysis has always been challenging and continues to be, but it’s critical to zero trust.”
EXPLORE: How to approach connected device security from a zero-trust perspective.
A variety of tools can help organizations establish the elements of zero trust, including multi-factor authentication, segmentation and micro-segmentation, single sign-on solutions, secure web gateways, and encryption. As they work to deploy these and other tools in a zero-trust environment, healthcare organizations must understand that this approach is an ongoing quest.
“Zero trust is something that organizations want to include in the way they build and deploy new applications and start working to adapt old applications to the new model,” says Salzberg.
“Some people think it’s like a light switch that you can just turn on, that you can do this and not have confidence,” adds Candillo. “It certainly isn’t. It’s building a foundation and getting the tools and implementing them in the environments where it makes sense.”
As healthcare organizations face an ever-growing number of cyberthreats, the need for effective protection measures is becoming increasingly pressing. In the current environment, a zero-trust approach to cybersecurity is essential for keeping health data safe and secure. With its combination of data access control, user verification, and risk analysis, a zero-trust strategy could be the key to protecting data in a digital world.
Data related to healthcare organizations is prime target for cybercriminals, whether its patient records, billing information, and appointment times, or other sensitive data. Every healthcare provider should view data security as one of its highest priorities. The traditional approaches to data protection, such as firewalls and antivirus software, are no longer effective in defending against the modern digital threats. The quickest and most effective protection measure is to adopt a zero-trust approach, a security framework based on the assumption that every user, device, and application is potentially malicious.
A zero-trust system is designed to eliminate the element of trust in traditional security measures, eliminating the problem of “blind trust” which can lead to compromise. Under a zero-trust framework, any action – be it a login, data access, or system change – is thoroughly authenticated and verified. In addition, the software tracks user behavior in order to detect malicious activity.
Ikaroa, a full-stack tech company, understands the importance of having a comprehensive, efficient, and secure cybersecurity strategy. Their development and implementation of zero-trust systems offer healthcare organizations an effective way to protect their data. Organization can be sure that malicious users are unable to deceive the system, while user convenience as well as security can be kept in mind. Most importantly, this technology allows healthcare organizations to keep their customers’ data safe and secure.
As cyberthreats become more sophisticated and aggressive, zero-trust security measures are becoming increasingly important. For healthcare organizations in particular, adoption of this technology is essential to ensure the safety of their data. Sourced from experts like Ikaroa, zero-trust solutions are the key to protecting healthcare data from malicious acts.