Just like any other industry, healthcare must be ready to handle cybersecurity threats.
What’s more, clinics and hospitals have to prove over and over again – the devices, technologies, and methods they use don’t bring any risk to patients.
To do that, healthcare institutions start compiling their security with recognized standards and frameworks like NIST or HITRUST.
But what exactly is a security framework? Which one should you use? What’s the right way to implement it?
In this guide, I’m answering all these questions, plus, listing five most recognized healthcare security frameworks.
Let’s get started.
What’s a Cybersecurity Framework?
Cybersecurity frameworks (CSF) are the roadmaps for securing IT systems.
A CSF a guide based on existing guidelines and practices. The primary role of a CSF is to help organizations to reduce security risks and deal with management processes.
Healthcare frameworks get updated when the staff learns from their adoption. Or when technologies and risks change.
Still, frameworks are not prescriptions. They can only suggest common methods for fighting cyber threats. For example, when a hospital is building an EHR system to digitize patient-physician interactions and focuses on eliminating security breaches.
What are the main goals of CFS?
- Describe the security situation
- Describe the target security posture
- Non-stop improvement
- Eliminate communication risks.
What security frameworks consist of?
- The core – enables communication of cybersecurity risks across an organization;
- Implementation tiers – help to find the right level of thoroughness for a security program;
- Profiles – align industry standards and best practices, support prioritization, and measurement.
What Cybersecurity Frameworks Bring to Healthcare?
Let’s face it: healthcare is the industry where inside security threats are more dangerous than outside ones.
According to the Verizon report, inside threads are more frequent in a healthcare organization – 59% of internal compared to 42% of external incidents.
Reasons? Various errors, privilege misuse, or software issues.
Employees often abuse their access to internal info, like looking through the procedures celebrities take.
Besides, 6% of internal breach cases were executed ‘just for fun,’ and that’s not funny at all.
No wonder that healthcare provides need and have always needed data security and privacy – to protect their customers’ data.
How can cybersecurity frameworks help here?
- The frameworks help with identifying and detecting security threats and recovering from their consequences.
- They ensure security with its core elements, implementation tiers, and profiles that align them by business requirements, financial capabilities, and risk tolerance.
- Allow stakeholders to understand and manage cybersecurity together as a team.
- Help with aligning business and tech policies.
Results? Better security risks handling across the entire organization improved service delivery and increased operational efficiency with personnel.
How to Implement a CFS Framework
Alright, healthcare security frameworks do a great job. But how to start using them?
Most hospitals follow a six-step implementation process, so we’re going to review these steps one by one.
Step #1: Outlining the Priorities
Everything begins with defining the goals and priorities of the healthcare organization. As well as analyzing current threats and impacts.
That’s done for making the best decisions about security means and for picking the right tools that support selected processes.
Thus, before moving to the implementation, the hospital or clinic has to figure out where and how exactly they should use the cybersecurity framework.
Step #2: Defining Risk Management Approaches
First, the organization should outline what tools, technologies, and sensitive data they have and use.
They calculate the overall risk approach and figure out the weak points of the current company’s tools, means, and systems.
Next, the company chooses the appropriate regulatory – security standards, means, methods, and so on.
Step #3: Estimating the Risks
This stage is about evaluating the level of risk for the current information system. The organization analyzes how likely security breaches may happen and what they can trigger.
Plus, the company minds emerging risks, threats, and vulnerabilities – to better understand the outcomes of security events.
Step #4: Creating a Risk Management Profile
As I’ve mentioned, cybersecurity frameworks are not set in stone. The most effective implementations are tailored to specific businesses.
So the next step is tailoring the framework for the business needs of the organization.
Hospitals make a thorough risk assessment and define their current state. It’s better to evaluate the risks from the functional areas and across the organization, independently.
And if the staff has detected some security risks, they should properly document them.
Step #5: Making an Action Plan
When the organization have evaluated the risks and their consequences, they can start comparing the actual scores with the desired ones.
For example, create a heat map showing the results and highlight the areas to focus on.
Next comes the brainstorming – they need to find out what exactly they should do to fill the gap between current and target score.
Step #6: Implementing the Action Plan
At this point, the company should have:
- a clear picture of cybersecurity issues they may face
- available defensive means
- target goals
- gap analysis
- list of actions to take
If they have all the details in hand, they can start implementing the security framework they’ve selected. (I’m listing the best frameworks in the next part of this guide.)
But it doesn’t end with just adopting an action plan. Healthcare institutions need to organize and monitor metrics to make sure that the CSF is working as expected.
It’s an ongoing process that results in getting the max profit and further customization of the adopted framework. Which, in the end, should fully meet the company’s business needs.
5 Best Security Frameworks for Healthcare
According to HIMSS ‘Cybersecurity Survey‘, there are five popular frameworks in the medical sector – NIST, HITRUST, CSC, ISO, and COBIT.
Let’s take a look at each.
NIST cybersecurity framework is the gold standard in many industries.
NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) is a USA-based company that creates tech standards and guidelines.
Here are some of their best-known documents:
- NIST Framework (Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity)
- NIST SP 800-171 (for Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems)
By utilizing the NIST security framework, healthcare institutions not only make a risk analysis but address emerging threats and cooperate with other entities.
26,4% of medical organizations that use frameworks claim to use HITRUST documentation – the second popular CSF.
That’s a great choice: Health Information Trust Alliance is led by the best specialists in the healthcare industry.
HITRUST strives to meet the needs of institutions in providing specific guidance. Their programs include common risk establishment, an assessment, and assurance methodology, advocacy, and awareness.
3. CIS Critical Security Controls
CIS framework is a list of practices of preventing the most common healthcare cyber attacks.
All the controls are listed by their priority, starting with the most important ones, like managing the weak points of a company.
CIS Controls place a big role in ensuring info safety, but it’s not a stand-alone solution. Mostly, CIS is used with other frameworks like NIST.
International Organization for Standardization is a non-governmental company whose standards are aimed at building and maintaining an information security management system – ISO/IEC 27000.
The framework they’ve created helps healthcare organizations to cope with the challenging and continuously evolving requirements of data security.
COBIT framework is an IT governance tool that allows companies to fill the gap between control requirements and helps with policy development.
COBIT focuses on the IT sphere, but lots of organizations use the framework to implement practices provided by other security standards – NIST and ISO27001/2.
No organization – from healthcare or retail industry, large or small – is immune to cyberattacks, internal threats, or human errors.
Gladly, more and more healthcare establishment realize that and start taking actions.
Adopting a cybersecurity framework is the right way out.
A CSF helps healthcare organizations to figure out what they need to
do and where to go to handle cybersecurity risks, keeping their patients’ data fully secure.
Author Bio: Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad. It’s a web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. He enjoys telling about tech innovations and digital ways to boost businesses.
Vitaly Kuprenko is a guest blogger. All opinions are his own.
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