Why Identity Management is Essential in the Healthcare Industry

Posted by Sydney Boman on Mar 5, 2019 6:30:00 AM

why-identiy-managemtn-is-esstial-in-the-healthcare-industry

Over the past several years, there has been a significant increase in cyber attacks targeted towards hospitals and other allied businesses in the healthcare industry. This is because hospital databases typically contain a lot of personal patient information such as social security numbers, home addresses, and credit card information, among others, which are of immense value to cyber criminals. In 2018, there were over 500 reported instances of hospitals or ancillary healthcare facilities suffering from a data breach.

One significant difference between data breaches that occur in the healthcare industry and other industrial sectors is that most healthcare data breaches have internal, rather than external, root causes. Over 53% of data breaches that have occurred in the healthcare industry over the past several years was as a result of the carelessness of employees in managing their account credentials or personal patient information which made the healthcare system vulnerable to attack by cyber criminals.

Given that most healthcare data breaches are caused by employees, identity and access management (IAM) is an essential security strategy for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. An effective identity and access management strategy minimizes the risk of data breaches from internal causes. Discussed below are some of the benefits of having an identity and access management strategy in your health care business.

1. Access Control

An IAM strategy is essential in controlling who has access to your healthcare network. This involves setting individual user accounts for employees who need access to the network to fulfill their job responsibilities. Individuals who do not have their own user accounts are, therefore, unable to access the network. Furthermore, as part of access control, a password policy can be set up to dictate the type of passwords needed to access the network, how frequently passwords should be updated, and whether or not multi-factor authentication needs to be set up.

2. User Rights

Another benefit of having an effective IAM strategy in place is the ability to control which applications or parts of the network each employee has access to. The more access an employee has, the more the damage to the network if the employee makes a mistake or if the account credentials become compromised. Generally speaking, employees should be assigned the minimum rights needed to fulfill their job duties and obligations; this is known as the principle of least privilege. Using the principle of least privilege ensures that damage to a network is contained in the event of its compromise. One of the most effective ways of applying the principle of least privilege is assigning each employee to user groups based on their job roles. Rights are then assigned to these user groups such that all members of a user group have the same user rights.

3. Audits / Reports

There are several local, state, and federal regulations guiding the management as well as the storage of personal patient information. One of the most well known of these healthcare regulations is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Healthcare facilities that do not comply with these regulations may be subject to very steep fines and penalties. With an effective IAM strategy, you can perform regular audits as well as generate reports to ascertain how well your business is in compliance with applicable healthcare regulations.

4. Old / Expired Accounts

Old or expired user accounts belonging to individuals who are no longer your employees are one of the most potent attack vectors that can be used by cyber criminals to compromise your network. Old or expired user accounts that are no longer in use should be disabled as soon as possible so as to close off this attack avenue from cyber criminals. An effective IAM strategy allows for the recognition of old accounts and dictates when and how they should be disabled.

The Bottom Line

At NewCloud Networks, we know how important it is to have an identity and access management strategy when securing your healthcare network. We have experts on staff ready to work with you in determining your security needs and developing a custom identity and access management strategy for your business. Contact us today for more information on our security services for healthcare.

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Topics: identity management, access management

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