Managed Security for Healthcare: How to Protect Patient Data and Ensure Compliance

| Author , tagged in cloud managed services, managed security
Cloudticity, L.L.C.


The Importance of Cybersecurity in Healthcare

It’s no secret that healthcare organizations face a growing number of cybersecurity threats. Multiple ransomware attacks and data breaches have made front-page headlines in recent years, as attackers have held healthcare records hostage and stolen patient data. These attacks have severely disrupted services, directly impacting patient care.

For healthcare organizations, preventing attacks and protecting sensitive patient data are critical. Attacks that expose data can result in millions of dollars in losses. In addition to losing revenue from canceled procedures and suspended services, organizations often must pay large sums to restore systems, conduct investigations, provide credit monitoring services, settle lawsuits, and pay fines for failing to comply with mandatory healthcare regulations, such as HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). 

Unfortunately, many organizations lack the internal resources to sufficiently protect patient data. They cannot adequately address cybersecurity challenges without pulling existing teams away from strategic tasks and innovation.

Partnering with a managed security services provider (MSSP) might be the solution. By working with external cybersecurity experts, your organization can gain the skills and capabilities you need to defend yourself against attacks and protect data while keeping internal resources focused on your core objectives. 

What Are Managed Security Services? 

Managed security services can include a wide range of services provided by outside cybersecurity experts. These experts can handle threat detection, incident response, and ongoing compliance. They might set up a security operations center (SOC), configure and manage firewalls, implement identity access management (IAM) capabilities, patch systems, manage security for Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, scan for network vulnerabilities, run anti-virus solutions, and more.

While a managed service provider (MSP) can provide some of these services, an MSSP is focused on cybersecurity. In many cases, an MSSP offers a more comprehensive portfolio of security services.  

Outsourcing the monitoring and management of cybersecurity to an MSSP frees up internal staff to concentrate on other areas, such as delivering better digital experiences to patients. Healthcare organizations might choose to hand off some cybersecurity tasks or outsource everything. 

Benefits of Using an MSSP

Providers, payers, and health technology companies can all benefit from partnering with an MSSP. In addition to sparing organizations the time and resources for cybersecurity management, an MSSP can provide security capabilities that might be too costly, complex, or otherwise impossible for these organizations to implement in-house. 

  • Advanced Threat Protection: Some MSSPs provide advanced threat protection services that generate insights by analyzing large, fast-growing volumes of data. 

  • Rapid Incident Response: Incident response services give organizations both resources and best practices for shutting down attacks and restoring system availability.

  • Maintain Compliance and Reduce Risk: MSSPs can also help organizations maintain regulatory compliance, even as regulations and rules change. In addition, the right MSSP can help organizations streamline the process of proving compliance, such as through HITRUST certification

  • Cost-Effective Security Expertise: MSSPs often provide a level of security experience and expertise that healthcare organizations cannot afford to bring in-house. Those external experts live and breathe cybersecurity. They understand how organizations should best protect themselves, and they know how strategies should change as threats change. Furthermore, they collect numerous new data points by working with multiple clients, and they can fine-tune best practices for everyone’s benefit.

Key Capabilities to Look for in an MSSP   

What should your organization look for in an MSSP? Partner with a top-tier organization that has the right combination of these four capabilities:

  • 24/7 monitoring and alerting: Attacks take place at all hours of the day and night. An MSSP should provide around-the-clock, real-time monitoring and alerting so you can detect and start responding to attacks right away.
  • Advanced analytics and threat intelligence: Some MSSPs use advanced analytics to identify emerging threats and new techniques used by attackers so you can take preventive action before attacks reach your network.

  • Incident response and forensics: An MSSP should help you rapidly respond to incidents, isolating infected systems and protecting the most sensitive data from unauthorized access. The MSSP can then help you determine what happened and how to address any vulnerabilities. 
  • Regulatory compliance expertise: The MSSP must have expertise in handling compliance with HIPAA and other regulations. Your MSSP should help you understand what security controls are necessary for meeting requirements and how any changes you make might affect compliance. 

Considerations When Selecting an MSSP

As you narrow the field of potential MSSPs, explore companies that can tailor their services for your particular healthcare organization. Look for an MSSP that offers:

  • Healthcare experience and expertise: In addition to understanding the rigors of regulatory compliance, your MSSP should have deep experience in the healthcare industry. A healthcare-focused MSSP can speak your language and quickly grasp your top business priorities, not just your technical requirements.
  • Flexible services to meet unique needs: Not all healthcare organizations have the same goals—or security vulnerabilities. Consider partnering with an MSSP offering flexible services that can support your specific strategy and requirements.
  • Cloud-based or on-premises options: While many healthcare organizations are tapping into the cloud to build and run innovative apps, some continue to utilize on-premises infrastructure for essential functions. You should choose an MSSP based on where your apps and data reside. 
  • Customer service and support responsiveness: An MSSP’s customer service and support teams should be there whenever you need them. Choose an MSSP that will be responsive to your requests.

  • HITRUST Certification: Not all MSSPs are qualified to manage and secure sensitive healthcare data. Choose a partner that has achieved HITRUST CSF Certification, specifically the r2 distinction.

Steps for Implementing Managed Security Services  

Once you’ve selected an MSSP, you can start precisely determining what services you need and how the MSSP will deliver them. First, work together to assess your existing infrastructure and identify potential risks. You can then determine which capabilities the MSSP should provide and what levels of coverage you require. You can also establish service-level agreements (SLAs) and define reporting requirements. For example, you might want to see reports showing real-time events, policy changes, or recurring tasks completed.

With services and responsibilities clearly defined, you can begin the onboarding process. Depending on which MSSP you choose, and how that MSSP operates, you might need to onboard your systems and devices with a security information and event management (SIEM) tool.

Maintaining a Successful MSSP Partnership

A successful ongoing partnership requires strong communication. Establish a regular cadence for sharing status updates and new information. In particular, your MSSP can share intelligence about emerging threats. 

Together you can conduct periodic reviews of services. You might need to add or modify services to better prepare for a shifting threat landscape. Your team should also share feedback with the MSSP about ideas for improving protection and be proactive about addressing changing needs. 

The Future of Healthcare Security  

As healthcare organizations adopt new technologies, cybercriminals will strive to find vulnerabilities in those technologies. For example, the increasing use of IoT devices and 5G wireless technologies in healthcare will likely generate new threats that put devices and transmitted data at risk. 

Meanwhile, healthcare organizations could see more advanced persistent threats. These prolonged network or system intrusions, which might be funded by foreign governments, could steal data, disrupt operations, or destroy systems. 

Technological advances, new types of threats, and other trends could drive regulatory change. Healthcare organizations will need to stay up to date on the latest modifications to regulations to ensure they remain in compliance. Partnering with the right healthcare-focused MSSP can help: An MSSP can share responsibility for tracking shifts in regulations and modifying security controls in accordance with new rules.

Why Cloudticity Is the Right Choice for a Healthcare MSSP

Cloudticity is a healthcare-focused, cloud-based managed security services provider that offers a full array of cybersecurity services. You can draw from a proven tech stack that uses a combination of the best native cloud services, top third-party tools, and automated security through Cloudticity’s unified platform. 

The Cloudticity team includes expert cloud architects who design and manage the systems. We can work with you to implement the right capabilities for your organization and help ensure that you can continually fine-tune your implementation as regulations change and cyber threats evolve. 

We’ve been in business since 2011 and we’ve never had a breach. With Cloudticity, your teams can spend less time managing security and more time focusing on healthcare innovation.

Learn more about how Cloudticity can help you address critical cybersecurity challenges. Reach out for a free consultation

Discover how much HITRUST certification might cost for your organization. Try the free Cloudticity HITRUST Cost Calculator tool.


TAGGED: cloud managed services managed security

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