Remote Access

Watch on Demand: Strengthening Remote Access in Healthcare with Zero Trust 

Recently, OpenVPN hosted a webinar for those in the healthcare industry to learn more about how zero trust can keep their patient data safe. If you missed the webinar, you can still catch the replay here.

Network Security Challenges in Healthcare

Healthcare organizations, especially those with remote employees or providers who travel between multiple sites, are a prime target for sophisticated network security attacks.

Cyber attacks and data breaches cost an average of $10.93 million for the healthcare industry in 2023. These attacks don’t just cost millions, they have real-world impacts on patient care. For example, a recent cyberattack against a healthcare data software and insurance provider prevented thousands of patients from accessing life-saving medication. 

Black-hat hackers are most often motivated by money, and that’s the case when it comes to health records. Steve Morgan, Editor-in-Chief of Cybercrime Magazine, writes, “Healthcare has lagged behind other industries and the tantalizing target on its back is attributable to outdated IT systems, fewer cybersecurity protocols and IT staff, extremely valuable data, and the pressing need for medical practices and hospitals to pay ransoms quickly to regain data.” Although it’s rare, failure to pay ransomware can even devolve into a killware situation.

Cybersecurity insurance provider NOW Insurance reports that protected health information (PHI) has a higher value than other sensitive data because:

  • Healthcare organizations are willing to pay higher ransoms to recover data acquired in a breach to avoid damaging patient trust and brand value.
  • In addition to accessing bank accounts and credit card numbers, dark web buyers can use PHI to illegally get and sell prescriptions, acquire expensive treatment, and file fraudulent medical claims for insurance payouts. They can also buy email addresses to spam with malware.
  • According to Health IT Security, in 2021, HHS recorded 550 cyberattacks against healthcare organizations, with a total of 40 million people impacted. Keep in mind that HIPAA only requires covered entities to report healthcare data breaches that affect 500 or more people, so many more are likely not reported.

At the same time, healthcare orgs must comply with increasingly rigorous HIPAA requirements. The consequences of not being HIPAA compliant varies based on the violation severity. OCR remediation efforts may involve voluntary compliance or technical guidance. And failure to address network vulnerabilities and cybersecurity risks is costly. In January 2021, insurance provider Lifetime Healthcare Companies paid a $5.1 million settlement for a data breach that affected more than 9.3 million people. 

How OpenVPN can help

Patient confidentiality is sacrosanct in healthcare. Any breach of this trust not only jeopardizes the individual's privacy but also erodes the credibility of the healthcare provider. 

A ZTNA model can help you increase your protection against the challenges we mentioned earlier. More specifically, transitioning to a ZTNA model through OpenVPN can help:

  • By encrypting data traffic, we help you ensure that patient information remains confidential as it moves across the internet, blocking it from bad actors and potential threats.
  • Ensure that all sensitive apps are kept private and can be accessed only using our products, thereby reducing the attack surface.
  • Allow only authorized devices to connect with DIVE. 
  • Allow you to centrally manage identity and permissions with SSO. These permissions can be enforced by our products by User Group mapping and Access controls. This limits lateral movement.

Securing remote access

In the era of telemedicine and remote work, healthcare professionals often access patient records and sensitive data from various locations outside the traditional healthcare setting.  You must make sure you are protecting secure remote access to patient data and a growing array of SaaS applications.

OpenVPN’s remote access solutions help create a secure connection, allowing authorized personnel to access the organization's network remotely without compromising security. 

Whether working from home, traveling, or in a different healthcare facility, staff can securely connect to internal resources, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or data interception.

Managing compliance requirements

Compliance in healthcare is goes beyond HIPAA – organizations also need to manage HHS 405(D), HITECH act, PCI DSS, HITRUST, and QSR. With evolving frameworks for managing compliance requirements, and increasingly rigorous requirements around things like zero trust, healthcare organizations face a monumental task.

By providing secure encrypted connections between networks, OpenVPN can help create an additional layer of security that helps to prevent unauthorized access while logging activity for regulatory purposes. Also consider latest security measures, like NIS2 necessary requirements. Implementing zero-trust security protocols is pivotal in maintaining trust within healthcare organizations' communities – safeguarding confidential information and the people it belongs to.

Mitigating cyber threats: 

  • Data Breaches: Healthcare organizations store large amounts of sensitive data about their patients and research. Data theft is a common goal of attackers targeting healthcare organizations.
  • Ransomware: Healthcare organizations are heavily reliant on their data and networked systems to provide care. Ransomware attacks can hold these systems hostage until the organization meets the attacker’s demands.
  • Malware: Healthcare orgs can be infected with various types of malware, like infostealer malware which can collect and exfiltrate login credentials that grant attackers access to healthcare systems.
  • DDoS: A DDoS attack uses a network of compromised systems to bombard a target with more traffic than it can handle. Like a ransomware attack, a DDoS attacker may demand a ransom to restore an organization’s operations.
  • Phishing: Phishing attacks are designed to trick the recipient into handing over sensitive information or infecting their system with malware. This is a common first step for data breaches, ransomware, and similar attacks.

OpenVPN helps mitigate these threats by encrypting data. With the built-in cyber security protection in CloudConnexa, you can make it harder for cybercriminals to intercept communications, launch targeted attacks, or exploit vulnerabilities in the network infrastructure. 

Take the next steps with OpenVPN

Ready to see how OpenVPN can help your healthcare organization? Get started for free with self-hosted Access Server or cloud-delivered CloudConnexa. Not quite ready to take the leap? Check out our self-guided interactive product tour.

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