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Healthcare Cloud Security Relies on Infrastructure Visibility

Healthcare cloud security is a growing concern as organizations lose visibility and control as they add more cloud-based tools to their IT infrastructure.

healthcare cloud security

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations have gone through different periods of trust with the healthcare cloud as the technology becomes a staple in health IT infrastructure.

Providers were initially hesitant with cloud adoption. How could the cloud, especially the public cloud be HIPAA compliant if data was being stored in a third-party facility?

HIPAA compliant cloud options have been made available over the past several years. While it’s no longer a challenge to find a HIPAA compliant public cloud service provider, organizations still need to be cautious when exploring cloud computing tools and services.

Organizations have options when it comes to cloud service providers but that doesn’t mean that they can be lazy with security. Any cloud tool or service model that can be configured into compliance can also be configured out of compliance.

Entities also need to watch for cloud solutions that involve add-on tools or tools from other vendors. These tools may not be HIPAA compliant or may need to be reconfigured.

READ MORE: Lack of Security Upgrades Threaten Health IT Infrastructure

Organizations are also moving more of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. Applications, tools, and data are all being stored and accessed via the cloud. Adding more cloud environments can complicate the management process and decrease visibility, making it more difficult to manage.

These added complications make cloud security more difficult, according to a recent Crowd Research Partner’s report. The report revealed that after years of retreating cloud security concern, cybersecurity professionals have recently revisited their cloud security worries.

Data loss, threats to data privacy and confidentiality breaches are some of the leading cloud security challenges.

Misconfiguration of cloud platforms was the biggest threat to cloud security, the report found. Adding more cloud tools and services as cloud becomes more popular can lead to misconfiguration. This is why cloud security has increased so suddenly.

Unauthorized access and insecure APIs were also major concerns.

READ MORE: Securing Mobile Medical Apps on Devices Adds Flexibility

“As more workloads move to the cloud, cybersecurity professionals are increasingly realizing the complications to protect these workloads,” report authors stated.

These complications can be attributed to the lack of visibility and control cybersecurity professionals have over their increasingly complicated cloud infrastructure. Legacy security tools are no longer sufficient enough to give organizations the end-to-end protection they need for the cloud. The cloud functions differently than legacy IT infrastructure tools and needs to be protected in a more advanced way.

Healthcare organizations are migrating more and more data into the cloud, which calls for more visibility and control over their IT infrastructure.

Visibility and control are key to managing cloud security. When organizations migrate more of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, they can feel like their giving up visibility and control because a lot of their data is stored off-site. Entities are also no longer charged with actively managing data the way they did with on-premises deployments.

Different security tools that focus on cloud deployments need to be considered to allow organizations to regain visibility over their IT environment.

READ MORE: Visibility, Automation Defend Against Network Security Threats

Security information and event management (SIEM) is one security tool that can give entities that much needed visibility.

SIEM presents event data in a single view from security devices, network infrastructure, systems and applications, as well as log data and network packets. The event data is combined with context information on the user and network vulnerabilities.

SIEM solutions are made up of security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) technology. The solution is deployed to provide advanced threat detection, basic security monitoring, and forensics and incident response.

Threat intelligence is another tool organizations can use to gain more control over their cloud infrastructure.

Threat intelligence is evidence-based knowledge that gives organizations insight into emerging and potential threats. This allows them to make informed decisions about how to protect their network from current and possible future threats.

The Ponemon Institute released a report in late 2017 indicating that organizations understand that threat intelligence is critical to modern cybersecurity deployments, but many entities still struggle to leverage the technology because they lack the staff experience needed to handle the amount of data produced and collected.

“It’s abundantly clear that organizations now understand the benefits provided by threat intelligence, but the overwhelming volume of threat data continues to pose a hurdle to truly effective adoption,” Ponemon Institute Chairman and Founder Dr. Larry Ponemon said in a statement.

“Threat intelligence programs are often challenging to implement, but when done right, they are a critical element in an organization’s security program,” he continued. “The significant growth in adoption over the past year is encouraging as it indicates widespread recognition of the value threat intelligence provides.”

Threat intelligence also counts on the support of the community and information sharing among organizations. Information sharing allows organizations to be more successful in identifying threats that can potentially harm the network.

As IT infrastructure continues to evolve and cloud becomes a more prominent piece, organizations need to consider how they will view and defend their network. Adding security solutions can give much needed visibility over cloud tools and decrease outside security threats.

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