Healthcare: Where cloud security can save lives
July 5, 2022
There’s a crisis in healthcare.
In 2021, reports cite nearly 700 confirmed attacks on healthcare organizations, adding up to 45 million records exposed — a lot of risk for one industry. And the cyber attacks don’t seem to be slowing down in 2022. Just weeks into the new year, Broward Health in Florida reported a breach, affecting over 1.3 million people. Year-to-date, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) listed 244 data breaches tied to healthcare organizations, nearly double the amount over the same period in 2021.
Unfortunately, unlike other industries, healthcare providers have more to worry about than lost revenue and downtime. Attacks on critical care providers can deprive people of necessary care, jeopardize patients, and impair basic operations. But it’s not just hospitals and clinics; biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are also frequent targets.
The bottom line? Cyber attacks in this industry can quite literally mean life or death. And any organization that manages, stores, or processes Protected Health Information (PHI) needs to follow security best practices, especially when managing regulated data in the cloud. In our new healthcare-specific eBook, we take a closer look at these unique challenges.
Here are some highlights.
The changing face of healthcare
The cloud has changed everything — from the way patient care is delivered to how organizations operate and innovate. Healthcare organizations are embracing the cloud to take advantage of its agility, speed, reliability, work-from-anywhere access, and, of course, its cost-savings. When combining these benefits with the scalability gained from spreading computing resources across multiple servers and data centers, the fear of running workloads in the cloud fades away.
Yet risks exist. And these risks must be considered when building infrastructures to drive the business forward — especially in healthcare, where data security is of paramount importance. With the cloud comes an increased attack surface, digitization of sensitive data, the storage of PHI in the cloud, and, unfortunately, organizational friction. Security wants to lock down environments. Developers want to spin up more workloads and build more services. And these differing priorities can lead to skipped security protocols and blind spots stemming from siloed systems.
All healthcare organizations, whether you’re a traditional healthcare provider or a futuristic HealthTech startup, face these same significant security challenges when it comes to conducting business in the cloud. From securing workloads to preventing over-permissioned accounts to ensuring an S3 bucket is not leaving sensitive data exposed, it’s critical to ensure cloud applications are correctly configured, compliant, and safe from zero-day threats and vulnerabilities.
Security tools in 2022: Quantity ≠ quality
For all organizations, the dynamics of today’s cloud environment requires a new approach to cloud security — one where, paradoxically, fewer tools could mean better security.
Here’s the reality. Over the years, healthcare-related organizations have likely accumulated a complex stack of security tools — with each tool promising a way to reduce threats, close security gaps, and help with compliance. However, this type of patchwork security tech stack can impede visibility and bury real security vulnerabilities in a web of “noise.”
These traditional security tools weren’t built to effectively inventory, understand, or protect cloud environments. Signature detection leaves organizations blind to zero-day or unknown threats. Traditional rules-based security is not scalable for the cloud, where new services launch frequently and account and resource configurations change continually. Existing approaches simply produce too many false positives — burying security teams in queues of meaningless alerts. It’s harder than ever to know what’s most important.
Again, quantity does not equal quality. And with changing cloud environments, new modes of access, and with infrastructure that’s only secure as the last DevOps commit, modern cybersecurity demands a new approach.
Cloud-native security with scalability in its DNA
To keep up with the speed of the cloud, healthcare organizations need security built in the cloud. Organizations first need to understand their environment in order to prioritize what to fix first. Automation is key. Without analysis and correlation of data across workloads, you are left with silos, too many security alerts, and even more tools to manage.
By embracing security that spans from left-to-right, developers and security professionals work together to catch issues — either security or health — before code moves into production. This is a huge opportunity for healthcare providers to create a culture of teamwork that reduces organizational friction, minimizes exposure from a data breach or costly HIPAA violation, and improves cloud security with a prioritized list based on risk, not guesswork.
Secure it all together with a single platform
These days, it’s critical that organizations understand their cloud environments — what resources, technologies, and services are in use and how these change. By establishing a baseline for “normal,” abnormal behavior and anomalies are easy to spot. And by tracking configuration changes in a single place across multiple clouds, it’s easier to see when correction action is required or when suspicious activity is occurring. A manual approach simply can’t do this, at scale.
Lacework combines misconfiguration and vulnerability data with runtime information to surface the issues that should be addressed first. With a single view into misconfigurations, high-risk vulnerabilities, and compliance violations across your cloud, you can trust that you’ve effectively prioritized what to fix first, with no manual work required. This correlation of data yields fewer security alerts, letting organizations streamline investigations and tie information into shared DevOps workflows for faster resolution.
And an added benefit — by continuously checking your cloud (or multicloud) environment against a set of regulations and standards in a single dashboard, you can use fewer resources when responding to audit requests. With Lacework, you can save time, remove manual work from your team, and free them up to focus on high impact work.
Want to learn more about how Lacework is helping health care organizations lower their total cost of ownership with an automated approach to cloud security? Read our new eBook, Where securing data means saving lives.