No matter how small or large the facility, the threat of HIPAA audit and massive fines, which can cripple a healthcare organization (particularly a smaller, rural facility) is very real. We are shedding some light on the most popular and in many cases, the most effective short-term way to check the security ‘health’ of your network environment, your cloud, and those applications rolling out – it is called Penetration Testing. Regular penetration testing is so important.
With the rapid rise of technology, healthcare facilities have grown dependent on digital technology for their daily operations. While digital technology provides limitless opportunities that enable us to manage our businesses with more efficiency and ease, it also comes with significant risks. Moreover, with the introduction of recent technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence in healthcare, there is an increased risk that hackers could gain access to sensitive medical information or disrupt operations. Even though these technologies can provide invaluable resources for a healthcare facility, they also introduce new points of vulnerability that must be addressed with appropriate security measures. Rural healthcare facilities face immense challenges in securing private and electronic patient information from breaches, theft, or attacks. These facilities often operate with limited resources, including staff shortages, strained budgets, and outdated technology, making them particularly vulnerable to cyber threats. As the threat of HIPAA audits and massive fines looms large, it has become crucial for these facilities to stay ahead of potential vulnerabilities and protect sensitive patient information.
There are many methods of auditing and testing vulnerabilities in information processing systems to ensure confidential data is secured. One effective way to assess the security health of your network environment, cloud, and applications is through Penetration Testing, also known as Pen Testing. Below is our proven approach on this very critical service. We’ve tried to simplify a typical test and what it entails, making it easy to see why it is important.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration Testing, or Pen Testing, as it is commonly called, is a type of ethical hacking, or ‘white hack’ hacking, where a company such as ours obtains a legal authority to attempt to locate and successfully exploit computer systems for the purpose of making them secure. To do this exploiting, the tester/engineer uses code. To do so they can use any preferred variety of state-of-the-art testing tools. If there is no written, legal agreement for this to be done it becomes a BLACK HAT action, by the bad guys of every stripe.
Pen Testing is SO important. Why? For several reasons:
- Estimate the extent of a potential attack for a healthcare facility or individual: By simulating real-world cyberattacks and how a malicious hacker may gain entry with a white-hat attack, your systems’ weak spots are identified so you know where an intruder can attack to gain unauthorized access to the machine’s features and data. Pen Testing helps organizations understand the potential impact of a breach and prioritize security measures accordingly.
- Provide evidence for the need to increase investments in security and data protection: Pen Testing results can be used to justify budget allocations for improved security measures, such as staff training, software upgrades, or additional personnel. Pen testing also offers support to avoid black hat attacks and protects the original data
- Categorize vulnerabilities in your system and suggest where the weakest points are: A detailed report from a Pen Test can help organizations identify specific areas of vulnerability, allowing them to focus their resources on the most critical security gaps.
- Ensure compliance with current regulations and laws: Regular Pen Testing can help healthcare facilities demonstrate compliance with HIPAA and other regulatory requirements, avoiding costly fines and penalties.
The Importance of Regular Pen Testing:
Years ago, a facility could get away with testing once a year before the warp speed forced that stance to change. Now it is common and strongly recommended testing be done at least twice a year and, ideally, once a quarter. Threats roll out and become reality at the ground level at lightning speed, never stopping in the goal of compromising your cyber environment. The result? Stolen identities, ransomware threats, compromise of medical records, breaches even via new medical devices which must communicate with YOUR network to be effective for your patients.
Another concern to consider is that a breach of business security can cause damage worth millions of dollars, due to lost time working with clients and trying to fix the whole mess- in short, to use a farm phrase of my grandfather’s: “Closing the barn door after the cow is gone.” This type and other types of damage can be avoided by doing the proper and timely regular testing in the first place. Even one individual filing a lawsuit or talking to the media can do enormous damage to the reputation of the facility.
As you can see, the complexity of cyber security challenges is beyond the in-house capabilities of most companies, including rural healthcare facilities. Firms of all sizes and industries are now partnering with third-party security providers for improved cyber security. By outsourcing your cyber security to experts, you gain access to a team of professionals who know how to protect your business and respond quickly to threats. Moreover, Saturn Partners specializes in serving rural healthcare facilities with over 20 years of experience. By staying one step ahead of the curve, healthcare organizations can protect patients and ensure that they have access to quality healthcare services. A penetration test is necessary and can be the biggest factor when it comes to keeping both your data and your facilities’ reputation safe and secure.