Hackers have healthcare on their minds. Cyber criminals are interested in breaching the networks of healthcare providers and insurance companies because the value of the information that can be found on healthcare records are quite high. The big names in health insurance are already on alert. Hackers compromised the records of 10 million people when BlueCross BlueShield was targeted in 2015. Of course, that attack pales in comparison to the 80 million customers affected by a hack that targeted Anthem in the same year. The fact of the matter is that Chief Information Security Officers in an industry that deals with sensitive data related to the healthcare world need to take extra measures to stay ahead of the cyber-attacks. How can this be achieved? It is important to identify risks and vulnerabilities before they can be identified and exploited by criminals. One of the best ways this can be achieved is through penetration testing. A company that performs a penetration test simulates a real-time attack that measures how network security measures will perform. What makes penetration testing more effective than standard security measures is the human element behind targeted attacks. A team to skilled and knowledgeable experts perform highly controlled network penetration tests to explore potential vulnerabilities in a system. These attacks are coordinated with the business or IT team in order to minimize down-time or any disruptions to service productivity. The results of the test can then be used to identify weak points, anticipate how a real attack would play out and develop new defenses.

Hackers Are Always Getting Better

One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with cyber criminals is that their methods are always improving. Through advances in technology and collaboration with other hackers, criminals are able to quickly deconstruct and bypass many common security methods. Penetration testing helps to address this problem by using human intelligence to simulate the real-time moves and strategies hackers may employ once they come into contact with a network in a controlled and non-threatening manner. A team of penetration testers can think outside the box and act creatively when it comes to trying to exploit every weakness possible within a network. The report that is provided at the conclusion of the test is far more comprehensive and detailed than anything an automated security scan could produce. This is important for healthcare IT security teams in order to maintain their highest level of security.

The Responsibility to Safeguard Information

Tight network security protocol isn’t just a recommendation in the world of healthcare. There are many legal and ethical responsibilities that a company is tied to if it manages or handles private records in any capacity. HIPAA compliance dictates certain legal liability limitations regarding the proper handling of sensitive and confidential information. Failures on the part of an institution or its employees to safeguard information according to HIPAA laws could result in fines and other penalties. In addition, a breach could potentially cost an institution millions of dollars in data recovery efforts, lawsuits and damaging press. The reality of data breaches is that nobody is immune. Both giants in the healthcare world and local enterprises are targets of criminals. It is very important to understand that using cutting-edge security methods is as important for business associates (BAs) such as small clinics and insurance companies as it is for the big names in the industry.