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Protecting Your Healthcare Brand by Investing in Data Security

Even healthcare organizations need to consider their brand and reputation, which is why data security investments must be key considerations.

Organizations need to invest in data security to help protect their brand

Source: Thinkstock

- The modern trends around digitization and cloud have absolutely catapulted cybersecurity into the forefront of concerns for healthcare admins and IT decision makers.

A recent Ponemon study, analyzing the cost of data breaches, found that the average cost of breaches at organizations have jumped past $4 million per incident, a 29 percent increase since 2013 and 5 percent increase since last year. The study found that average dwell time for breaches stands at 201 days, with organizations requiring another 70 days to contain breaches once they'd been identified.

Furthermore, the report pointed out that the average cost per record equaled about $158. However, being prepared for a cyber security incident can diminish that cost. For example, having an incident response plan and team in place can reduce that figure by $16 per record.

However, it goes further than just protecting your healthcare IT environment. You’re also attempting to protect your brand and your reputation.

A recent IDC study of US businesses reveals a wide spectrum of attitudes and approaches to the growing challenge of keeping corporate data safe. While the minority of cybersecurity "best practitioners" set an admirable example, the study findings indicate that most US companies today are underprepared to deal effectively with potential security breaches from outside or inside their firewalls.

"The study findings imply that the U.S. private sector is more exposed to cybersecurity threats than it needs to be, given the best practices that are available today," IDC Research Vice President of High Performance Data Analysis Steve Conway said in a statement. "IDC believes that this situation will improve substantially only in response to more pervasive, serious breaches — and breaches will become more frequent and damaging during the next 10 years."

"The benefits of analytics, coupled with 3rd Platform delivery channels, will cause the rapid maturation of analytics platforms and further development of hybrid solution/managed security services (MSS)," said Sean Pike, IDC program director, eDiscovery and Information Governance. "As use cases for analytics platforms mature and competition creates price pressure, organizations will likely continue to turn toward these solutions in order to round out existing security resources."

Finally, a Ponemon study looking at the aftermath of a data breach pointed out that the three occurrences that have the greatest impact on brand reputation are data breaches, poor customer service, and environmental disasters.

According to the study, breaches have a major impact on customer fears about identity theft. Prior to having their personal information lost or stolen, 24 percent of respondents said they were extremely or very concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft. Following the data breach, this concern increased to 45 percent. Almost half of respondents feel their identity is at risk for years or forever.

With all of that in mind, let’s look at healthcare. We know that the digitization of healthcare continues to grow. We’re seeing more IoT devices introduced into healthcare to improve services. Finally, we’re witnessing new types of health services which leverage technology to deliver powerful experiences.

So, what can healthcare organizations do to not only protect their data but their brands as well? Begin by understanding where your security environment is today, and where you can invest to make it even better.

Cybersecurity and automation enables a more proactive healthcare IT environment

Healthcare organizations are expanding very rapidly. A big challenge today is controlling IT sprawl as IT managers aim to control more data points. Security technologies strive to better manage data, users, workloads, and much more. However, automation systems help bridge heterogenous security platforms and enable even greater amounts of visibility. With advanced automation systems, you control the onboarding and offboarding of users, IT assets, security devices, and even healthcare business operations. You no longer have to use manual processes around updating various security devices, network locations, and even user access points. The more visibility you create, the more control you’ll have over your security environment and your brand.

Integrating healthcare IT automation helps people and process

Automation tools help control firewall settings, network points, and other physical data center resources. They also help with virtualization, application delivery, VDI, and mobility. It’s critical to ensure that you don’t have rogue accounts, lost assets, misconfigured access points, or unpatched systems. Automation and even integration with tools like security information and event management (SIEM) help improve overall security operations. Most of all, it helps the people as well. You’ll build internal confidence, see users leveraging IT tools more frequently, and help protect your healthcare brand by enabling next-generation security visibility.

Brand and your healthcare entity go hand-in-hand

New technologies around end-point security, firewall and network management, and even mobility integration is all helping healthcare organizations compete at a new level. However, healthcare must also protect key data points, sensitive information, and PHI. As we’ve seen time and time again, a data breach can and will have repercussions on brand image and confidence. No security environment will ever be 100 percent safe. However, security automation and next-gen security tools all help mitigate risk and protect your valuable assets. If you can stop an attack, or at least control the impact, you’re already ahead of the game.

Moving forward, cybersecurity will impact all aspects of the healthcare environment. Most of all, organizations will need to find ways to protect consumer confidence as well as their brands. To accomplish this, intelligent ways to manage the entire data center will be critical. This is where new technologies around healthcare infrastructure control and automation can really help. 

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