Technical Insight

How Application Security Strengthens Healthcare Organizations’ Security Posture

The State of Data Breaches in the Healthcare Industry

This decade has seen an unprecedented number of connected systems and devices, automated delivery systems and increased mobile device usage in the healthcare industry. Digital connectivity has improved communications between patients and provider, but it has also increased the surface area of exposure risks to patient data and privacy making healthcare organizations extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks and costly data breaches.

State of Data Breaches in the Healthcare Industry
Data breaches in the healthcare industry have grown in scale and frequency like never before. According to the HIPAA Journal, May and July of 2019 were the worst months ever in the history of healthcare data breaches in terms of the sheer number of data breaches and number of healthcare records exposed. The majority of these breaches were caused by hacking and/or IT incidents.

Most hacking attacks are through technical vulnerabilities such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting. Applications that are vulnerable to these exploits are an easy target for hackers and most often lead to data breaches.

Are the healthcare organizations doing enough to secure their applications from malicious attacks?

Causes of Healthcare Data Breaches

Prevent Hacking by Securing your Applications

The 2019 Whitehat Security Stats report finds that despite their well-regulated status, the finance, healthcare, retail, and utilities industries had more vulnerabilities than they did last year. While these regulated industries have application security programs, a majority of these programs are focused on check-the-box compliance needs. It’s evident that compliance does not guarantee security. For an overall cybersecurity strategy, if security is given priority, compliance will follow.

Applications connect businesses to their customers. And when customer data and privacy is at stake, businesses need to do their very best to protect their assets and their reputation. The first step is to know and assess your risks. Applications are one of the weakest links, and with more apps in production than ever before, the risk of data breaches is greater than ever. According to the 2018 Horizon reportThe State of Cybersecurity in Healthcare, almost 100 percent of web applications connected to critical health information are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Network penetration results also showed that hackers could easily access domain level admin privileges of most healthcare applications.

Not all data breaches can be stopped, but you can strengthen your defenses by adopting a holistic DevSecOps strategy. Secure the applications that run your business.

Prioritize threat mitigation      Prioritize threat mitigation by analyzing vulnerabilities before they become a threat  

An automated application testing platform or tools helps identify and fix vulnerabilities at any point in the development process, or assess third-party apps, and ensure security is built into your apps from the start. And above all, a proactive risk mitigation program can save money and protect against reputational damage.

From risk-assessment to remediation, here’s how an effective application security program helps strengthen your security posture:

  • Risk assessment through application scanning (use Dynamic Application Testing) allows you to fix these vulnerabilities ASAP and reduces your window of exposure and reduces the risk of an incident.
  • Scanning code in pre-production (DAST) or scanning the source code (SAST) allows you to find and fix before the vulnerabilities are exposed to the world.
  • Continuous threat monitoring to ensure optimal and uninterrupted coverage of new vulnerabilities and attack vectors.
  • Strategic risk-based recommendations and actionable insights improve remediation-rate, time-to-remediate, and save your valuable resources (time and personnel).
  • Provides a holistic view of your entire application security posture and remediation trends.
  • Facilitates compliance.

WhiteHat Security Addresses the Key Cybersecurity Barriers in the Healthcare Industry

It’s clear that healthcare organizations are experiencing major challenges in implementing a robust IT security strategy. Among the top 5 barriers healthcare organizations face when remediating and mitigating cybersecurity incidents, as identified by the 2018 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey, are:

  • Lack of appropriate cybersecurity personnel
  • Too many application vulnerabilities, and
  • Too many emerging new threats

Check out our whitepaper (Overcoming Cybersecurity Barriers in the Healthcare Industry – Protecting Healthcare with Application Security) to know more about:

Overcoming Cybersecurity Barriers in the Healthcare Industry

  • The state of healthcare data breaches
  • The biggest barriers to remediating and mitigating cybersecurity risks in the healthcare industry
  • How WhiteHat Security protects your organization against security breaches by effective mitigation and remediation of cyber risks