How MDR Services Can Help Vulnerable Healthcare Organizations

Josue Ledesma

June 22, 2022

How MDR Services Can Help Vulnerable Healthcare Organizations

Healthcare organizations have not had the best couple of years when it comes to cybersecurity. 2015 was considered the year of the healthcare breach. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem, and over a dozen more healthcare providers were hacked, resulting in over 100M records leaked. Yet the risk of cybersecurity compromise has only continued to increase for healthcare companies.

The industry is finally undergoing the digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic and are taking advantage of lean cloud-based infrastructures, new technology, electronic PHI (ePHI), telehealth services, and IoT connected medical devices. However, the innovation largely stops at adoption and cybersecurity is not much of a priority.

As a result, these new technological adoptions and innovations are introducing new risks and increasing the organizations’ attack surface, which is partly why they continue to be a major target for malicious attackers. 2021 could be considered a disastrous sequel to the year of the healthcare breach — over 45M PHI records were leaked, the most since 2015, and over 700 breaches were reported.

While healthcare organizations can make a push for new cybersecurity technologies to try and mitigate this elevated risk, the reality is that their organizational infrastructure is not well equipped to devote the resources required to have an in-house security department that can provide the detection and response needed.

For many healthcare organizations, outsourcing their cybersecurity needs to build up their cybersecurity resilience as quickly as possible is a more effective and efficient method. Knowing the challenge facing the healthcare industry, MDR providers have tailored their services and offerings to better suit the specific needs of healthcare.

Here’s how MDR providers can help healthcare organizations become cyber resilient.

The cybersecurity risk to healthcare organizations

Healthcare organizations have been steadily increasing their digital technology adoption over the last few years. The pandemic forced the healthcare industry to shift over to provide telehealth service, and process ePHI, resulting in the need for cloud-based vendors. The increased use of connected medical devices (also known as IoT devices) has also significantly changed the environment a healthcare organization needs to secure.

Healthcare tech adoption has resulted in increased cyber risk

Unfortunately, without the right security controls, this also exposes these organizations to a wide variety of cyber risks. Connected devices act as access points and there have been multiple examples of these connected devices having hardcoded passwords or other vulnerabilities that are relatively simple and easy to exploit. Over 80% of healthcare organizations have reported an IoT based cyber attack. Hackers are known to use automated scanning tools that actively look for these vulnerable devices in hopes of an easy exploit.

Without the right tools or processes, the use of cloud-based infrastructure could lead to the leak of patient records or other sensitive information which could be disastrous for a company’s patients and can even lead to compliance issues. Several years ago, a misconfigured AWS bucket led to 150,000 patient records being exposed, simply due to error.

Threat actors are increasingly targeting the healthcare industry

Malicious hackers are well aware of these risks and, driven by profit and maleficence, are actively targeting healthcare organizations and making them a prime target for various ransomware campaigns. Healthcare companies are one of the few that can’t afford to have their facilities or business down, even for hours — depending on the facility, it can mean life or death. This is why ransomware payments are mostly likely to be paid by healthcare organizations, which further fuel threat actors.

Cybersecurity is not a priority for many healthcare organizations

Healthcare organizations have limited resources and budgets and are largely devoting their attention to seeing through to their digital transformation priorities. They’re looking to digitize as soon as possible so as to not fall behind on their competition which means they aren’t prioritizing cybersecurity.

Many smaller healthcare organizations may not even have a department dedicated to cybersecurity. They may have an IT department who may not have the right expertise to devote to cybersecurity and whose priorities lie in seeing their technical roadmap through. If this is the case, cybersecurity may (mistakenly) be thought of as an element that’s likely to delay progress and innovation.

Ultimately, this creates an environment where healthcare organizations need to move quickly to onboard new third-party vendors, shift towards a cloud-based or multi-cloud-based structure and aren’t prioritizing cybersecurity despite being a fairly large target for many hackers.

Healthcare orgs suffer from new threats, risks, and less security.

MDR can improve cyber resilience

Managed detection and response (MDR) broadly refers to vendors and partners that provide outsourced detection and response services. These partners help organizations stay proactive against existing threats, mitigate the risk of a compromise, and reduce the damage in case of an attack.

Some MDR providers serve as outsourced Security Operation Centers and rely on partner integrations while others may bring their own tools and technologies to integrate with an organization’s environment. These tools can vary depending on the vendor but effective MDR providers design their service offerings to ensure maximum visibility across multiple clouds, and leverage advanced analysis tech to keep unnecessary noise and false positives at a minimum. This results in proactive threat hunting, 24/7 security monitoring and detection and response which help keep organizations cyber resilient.

Healthcare organizations can also take advantage of the fact that MDR serves as a single-budget item that consolidates essential cybersecurity needs, making it easier to procure and budget for. Compared to choosing multiple tools and vendors and initiating the onboarding for each one, this will result in a faster time to value and cybersecurity.

Healthcare organizations can also rely on MDR partners as an outsourced department that can help identify security gaps and risks specific to the organization itself. Their expertise can be used for ongoing cybersecurity strategy and security implementation.

Healthcare organizations may not have the resources needed for robust cybersecurity

Healthcare organizations are struggling with cybersecurity, not because of negligence, but because of lack of resources, de-prioritization, and lack of expertise. Budgets are tight and it’s hard to expect these companies to have an expert that knows how to advocate for cybersecurity. For these reasons, it’s difficult to realistically expect the average healthcare organization to have a robust and well-equipped security department.

Instead, healthcare organizations should prioritize efficiency and effectiveness. MDR providers are an excellent option that can save companies time, money, and allow department-heads to focus on other priorities that they are better suited for.

Learn more about how Bitdefender helps healthcare providers maintain HIPAA compliant.


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Josue Ledesma

Josue Ledesma is a writer, filmmaker, and content marketer living in New York City. He covers cyber security, tech and finance, consumer privacy, and B2B digital marketing.

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