Data security and privacy are of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry. Businesses operating in this field have data resources that include protected health information (PHI) and may also encompass credit card payment information. This combination of data assets makes healthcare companies attractive targets for cybercriminals.
Zero trust security can help protect the sensitive data healthcare businesses process and store. Let’s see how to implement a zero trust security strategy to enhance data protection in the healthcare industry.
What Is a Zero Trust Identity Strategy?
Zero trust is a cybersecurity strategy that protects an organization’s sensitive data resources and reduces the chance of a breach. Zero trust assumes that all network connections and endpoints are a threat. It’s guilty before proven innocent – hence the name “zero trust.” Every connection must be authenticated, even when access to the network has already been granted.
These three activities form the foundation of a zero trust strategy:
- Monitoring and logging all activity in an information technology (IT) environment;
- Restricting access to the network and connected IT resources;
- Verifying access authorization to protect systems, applications, and data.
Why Zero Trust Matters?
Zero trust matters because even a single mistake can result in a devastating data breach. Human error resulting from excessive privileges may inadvertently expose patient data. Unauthorized access to sensitive data has devastating consequences to the business. From financial upset to reputational degradation, both external threats as well as internal threats, such as vengeful employees, must be considered. A recent report discovered that employees accounted for 39% of healthcare data breaches.
Zero trust restricts access to sensitive data to only the individuals and devices that need access to do their jobs. When a rigorous zero trust strategy is implemented, opportunities for data to end up in the wrong hands are virtually eliminated. This is essential in the healthcare industry, which is more vulnerable to breaches than other industries. In fact, 66% of healthcare organizations were hit with ransomware in 2021.
How to Implement a Zero Trust Security Strategy
Multiple factors go into the implementation of zero trust security. A significant degree of planning and coordination is required.
Companies need to understand the relationships between infrastructure components and the individuals who require access to them. These components include devices, systems, applications, and data resources. Keeping an inventory of IT resources and users can help you document and track the relationships involved.
After the relationship between components is understood, an organization needs to coordinate this information with business processes and procedures. A company’s workflows will influence how they develop access policies to protect sensitive resources.
Access policies need to be developed that address the previously discovered component relationships and the workflows necessary to run the business. Resources should only be accessible by authorized and authenticated individuals and devices when needed to perform business activities.
Zero trust core principles
Following are the core principles of a zero trust security strategy.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
MFA requires the verification of more than one method of authentication when permitting access to IT resources. For example, a user may have to enter a PIN sent to their mobile device in addition to supplying an ID and password to gain access to the network.
Privileged access management
Managing privileged access to data resources is a critical component of the zero trust model. Fine-grained security is necessary to prohibit access to sensitive systems and data. Excessive privileges are often the cause of accidental or deliberate data breaches.
Microsegmentation is the practice of creating zones in IT environments to isolate and secure specific workloads or data resources. It reduces the risk to the total environment if the security of one segment is compromised.
Monitor activity in real-time
Real-time monitoring is necessary to verify legitimate access attempts and uncover anomalies that may indicate a cyberattack is underway. Suspicious behavior may require proactive measures to ensure security.
Control device access
Devices also need to be authenticated in a zero trust environment. The combination of user and device authentication makes it more difficult for attackers to successfully spoof credentials to gain access.
Considerations for a Zero Trust Strategy in Healthcare
Implementing zero trust is a complex task that may be beyond the capabilities of in-house security teams. Without an experienced team, companies may fail to execute on all the pillars of zero trust properly. With healthcare data constantly at risk, it’s important to implement zero trust correctly.
Healthcare organizations should reach out to a managed service provider (MSP) like Cloudticity to assist in the implementation of a zero trust strategy. It can be the difference between a viable security strategy and one that results in an unfortunate but preventable data breach.
Is Zero Trust still relevant?
Yes, zero trust is relevant. It can be argued that with the rise in the remote workforce and the proliferation of mobile devices, it is becoming increasingly important to implement zero trust security. The availability of products like Forrester's zero trust strategy certification indicates how seriously zero trust is being taken in the world of IT.
What are the advantages of zero trust?
The advantages of zero trust include:
- A reduced threat surface;
- Improved visibility into user and system activity;
- Protection against external and internal threats;
- Enhanced IT security across the organization.
Is zero trust widely accepted?
Zero trust has seen more widespread adoption because it addresses modern cybersecurity requirements. As cybercrime continues to increase, more companies are turning to zero trust to protect their data resources.
What is an example of zero trust?
An example of zero trust in action can be seen when a hacker attempts to access a network with stolen login credentials. The attack will fail as soon as the hacker is confronted with the multi-factor authentication (MFA) protocol that was enabled as part of a zero trust strategy.
Implementing zero trust security will strengthen a healthcare company’s ability to protect sensitive data resources. Working with an experienced partner like Cloudticity will help streamline the process and ensure all points are addressed effectively. We offer managed security services tailored to the needs of the healthcare industry. You can trust Cloudticity to help with a smooth implementation of zero trust security in the cloud.