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Strengthening Cyber Resilience in Healthcare


Brendon Rod

Chief Evangelist

Expert Strategies to Shield Healthcare from Cyber Threats

In recent years, healthcare data breaches have become alarmingly frequent, grabbing headlines and emphasizing the pressing need to fortify digital defenses.

This new reality has forced healthcare providers to embrace a dual role: guardians not only of physical well-being but also of cyber security. The intersection of the Hippocratic Oath and cyber ethics demands that defending against hackers and malware is as paramount as battling infectious diseases. Now is the time to embark on a decisive journey towards cyber resilience in healthcare. By exploring the intricate labyrinth of cyber threats and leveraging expert strategies, healthcare providers can bolster defenses and secure the future of healthcare.

Just as a fortress protects against external forces, healthcare organizations must build a bastion of cyber resilience that shields against invisible attacks.

Understanding the cyber threats faced by healthcare industry

Healthcare faces the task of safeguarding infrastructure and sensitive info amidst digital transformation.

Cybersecurity risks are tangible realities, with threats expanding due to networked medical devices. Cybersecurity posture must go beyond compliance, focusing on resilience against attacks. Healthcare is vulnerable to ransomware, phishing, and state-sponsored breaches, posing risks to patient safety. A robust cybersecurity strategy is critical for protecting lives and patient care. Risk assessments, education, and advanced tools are necessary for resilience.

Vigilance, agility, and commitment protect patients and their data in the evolving cyber landscape. Cybersecurity resilience is essential for secure healthcare.

Healthcare Cybersecurity Breaches

Healthcare organizations have experienced a concerning rise in cybersecurity breaches in recent years.

These breaches not only expose sensitive patient information but also pose a significant threat to patient safety. Among the most common types of cyber threats faced by the healthcare sector are ransomware attacks. These attacks involve encrypting the data of healthcare providers and demanding a ransom for its release.

The consequences of such attacks can be catastrophic, leading to disruptions in patient care and potentially resulting in loss of life. According to a survey conducted in March, the financial impact of an outage at a vendor like Change, which handles a substantial number of healthcare transactions and has access to a significant portion of medical records, could be over $1 million per day.

The recent outage at a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary caused widespread challenges for healthcare providers, including payment disruptions and delayed authorization requests.

UnitedHealth’s payment of $22 million to hackers and the subsequent costs for fixing the breach underscore the critical importance of prioritizing cyber resilience in healthcare organizations. Ransomware attacks, in particular, expose the devastating potential consequences for patient care. When data is encrypted, it becomes challenging to access vital patient information, resulting in delays in diagnosis and treatment.

In worst-case scenarios, patients’ lives may be endangered if crucial medical data cannot be promptly retrieved.

Key Strategies for Strengthening Cyber Resilience in Healthcare

In the realm of healthcare, where lives are inextricably linked to the integrity of digital networks, cybersecurity resilience is more than a necessity—it’s a solemn obligation. Modern health systems are complex organisms pulsating with sensitive data making cybersecurity strategies crucial to their survival and prosperity.

The following are some of the most effective strategies for fortifying healthcare organizations against the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats menacing critical infrastructure:

Implementing Multi-factor Authentication

Embrace the armor of multi-factor authentication (MFA) to safeguard systems and patient data. MFA acts as an additional verification layer, forcing users to provide two or more evidence types before accessing sensitive information. This protective barrier significantly lowers the risk of unauthorized access, ensuring that even if passwords fall into dubious hands, your data remains secure.

List of MFA Methods Commonly Used:

  • Passwords or PINs
  • Biometric verification
  • Security tokens
  • Mobile device confirmation

Regular Staff Training on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Human error can derail even the most fortified security systems.

Hence, persistent and thorough training for healthcare staff on cybersecurity best practices forms an indispensable shield. Regular training sessions inform and empower employees to recognize phishing attempts, handle confidential information properly, and take an active role in defending the healthcare ecosystem.

Key Training Deliverables:

  • Recognizing and reporting phishing scams
  • Password management and security
  • Safe handling of patient information
  • Proper device usage and security protocols

Ensuring Technology Vendors Possess Top Security Certifications

As medical devices and healthcare software become integrally embedded into patient care, verifying that technology vendors have attained revered security certifications is pivotal. Certifications such as ISO/IEC 27001 provide assurance that vendors are adhering to stringent industry standards, keeping patient data and health systems secure.

Table of Top Security Certifications for Vendors:



ISO/IEC 27001

Information security management systems


Health information privacy and security


Service organization control over privacy and security


Health information trust alliance for risk management

Asking security questions during vendor evaluation

Evaluating vendors is a critical task in upholding the cybersecurity resilience of healthcare organizations.

When analyzing potential partnerships, healthcare leaders must ensure vendors can meet stringent regulatory requirements and possess an ironclad cybersecurity posture.

Consider including the following security questions during vendor evaluation:

  • How do you handle data protection and patient confidentiality?
  • Can you detail your incident response plan in the event of a cybersecurity breach?
  • What are your policies on regular software updates and patch management?
  • How often do you conduct cybersecurity risk assessments and audits?
  • Do you have cybersecurity insurance, and what does it cover?

Organizations should assess the vendor’s alignment with the health system’s cybersecurity strategy.

Vendors should prove their commitment to protecting critical infrastructure and demonstrate that their cybersecurity practices are up to the challenge of securing medical devices and sensitive patient care data.

A table format can help in the systematic assessment of vendor responses:

Cybersecurity Area


Vendor Response

Evaluation Notes

Data Protection

How do you ensure data confidentiality?

Vendor’s answer

Healthcare organization‘s notes

Incident Response

What is your incident response framework?

Vendor’s getValue

Criteria for assessment

… and so on for each relevant area.


By rigorously questioning vendors, healthcare systems reinforce their security teams, preemptively mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and protect against potential threats.

Managing regulatory compliance

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, managing regulatory compliance has become a critical element for healthcare organizations. Health systems are under immense pressure to protect patient care information while adhering to an array of regulatory requirements.

Key components to maintaining regulatory compliance include:

  1. Backups: Regular and secure backups of sensitive data are mandatory. Backup protocols ensure that health data is retrievable in case of a cybersecurity incident.
  2. Recovery: A defined set of recovery operations is vital to maintain healthcare services after a cybersecurity breach. This includes clearly outlined Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO).
  3. SaaS Backup: With the digital transformation in healthcare, many organizations leverage Software as a Service (SaaS) for data management. SaaS backup solutions provide an additional layer of security for critical infrastructure and medical devices, protecting against potential threats.

Short, deliberate, and cautious steps in managing backups, recovery, and SaaS backup can substantially fortify a security team’s ability to meet and exceed regulatory compliance, ensuring the safeguard of healthcare services and patient trust.

Leveraging automation, AI, and cybersecurity consolidation

Cybersecurity resilience is not just a need but a mandate for healthcare organizations which form a critical part of our infrastructure. As these health systems continue to integrate digital transformation into their patient care models, they find themselves at a crossroads—balancing innovation with securing sensitive medical data.

Leveraging automation, AI, and cybersecurity consolidation is paramount for staying ahead of potential threats.

  • Automation streamlines repetitive security tasks, allowing cybersecurity teams to focus on proactive measures. Simple, time-consuming processes are handled quickly, reducing the window of opportunity for cyber attackers.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhances the detection of cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. AI algorithms can predict and neutralize threats before they escalate into a cybersecurity incident.
  • Consolidation simplifies cybersecurity practices. Instead of an array of disjointed security tools, a unified platform ensures a stronger cybersecurity posture, and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Customized Risk Assessments and Consistent Maintenance

A robust cybersecurity posture pivots on the axis of customized risk assessments.

These are tailored deep-dives into the digital DNA of healthcare organizations to unearth cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Risk assessments should mirror the unique landscape of each organization, considering factors like the type of data processed, the nature of patient care provided, and the variety of interconnected devices.

Once risks are identified, consistent maintenance—patch management, updates, and regular reviews—becomes the rhythmical heartbeat of cybersecurity. This tenet of diligence is not just a cybersecurity best practice; it’s a lifeline to safeguard patient data, maintain trust, and uphold the integrity of healthcare services.

Complete Visibility and Accurate Profiling of Connected Devices

Your journey toward formidable cybersecurity resilience is marked by the first milestone—achieving complete visibility and accurate profiling of every connected device within the health system terrain. By mapping out the network landscape, cybersecurity experts can spot every nuance, every potential backdoor that might welcome uninvited guests.

Imagine a comprehensive inventory—a digital tableau—showcasing not only desktop computers or servers but extending to the myriad of medical devices and applications that form the nervous system of healthcare delivery.

This meticulous cataloging is crucial as it ensures each device is identified, its behavior understood, and its security posture assessed for vulnerabilities.

Prioritizing Device Discovery, Exposure Management, and Network Protection

With a vigilant eye, healthcare cybersecurity efforts must prioritize three pillars:

  • Device Discovery: Unmasking previously undetected or new devices joining the network.
  • Exposure Management: Proactively rectifying identified weak spots before they are leveraged against the organization.
  • Network Protection: Shielding the network environment from unauthorized access, disruptions, or malicious activities.

Incorporating these practices will streamline the security team’s fervent commitment to guarding the lifeblood of healthcare—its data and services.

Addressing Vulnerabilities in the Extended Internet of Things (XIoT)

The extended Internet of Things (XIoT) is rapidly becoming integral to various sectors, including healthcare organizations, manufacturing, and critical infrastructure. As these connected devices proliferate, they expand the attack surface, presenting a host of cybersecurity vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors.

  • Regular Updates and Patch Management: IoT devices must be regularly updated with the latest security patches to protect against newly identified threats.
  • Segmentation of Networks: Separating IoT devices onto their own network segment limits the potential damage in case of a breach.
  • Robust Authentication Processes: Implement strong authentication protocols to ensure only authorized personnel have access to IoT devices.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Deploy monitoring tools to detect and respond to suspicious activity in real-time.
  • Employee Training: Educate employees on potential threats and best practices to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Vulnerability Assessments: Regularly assess XIoT devices for security weaknesses.

By following these key steps, organizations can fortify their cybersecurity posture and protect their networks from the range of cybersecurity threats targeting XIoT devices.


The healthcare sector stands at the frontline of the battle against cyber threats.

Protecting patient data is not just about regulatory compliance; it is about safeguarding the very essence of patient care. As cyber threats continue to evolve, healthcare providers must adopt a proactive and resilient approach to cybersecurity.

At Acsense, we understand the critical importance of cyber resilience and identity and access management (IAM) resilience in healthcare. Our IAM Resilience solutions offer continuous backups, one-click recovery, and simplified investigation processes, ensuring that healthcare providers can maintain their IAM operations and protect patient data even in the face of cyber attacks. Partner with us to fortify your IAM defenses and safeguard the future of healthcare.

Visit our website to learn more about how Acsense can help you achieve cyber and IAM resilience.




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