Cybercriminals find the healthcare sector to be a particularly juicy target. Medical records are among the most valuable when it comes to stolen data. When combined with the typically inadequate network security of healthcare institutions, hackers of even moderate expertise can quickly gain access to sensitive patient information.

But that’s only one of the issues; there could also be dangers coming from within. Mismanagement of data from within the organization is also a cause for concern. Even if your security measures are foolproof, employees from your company may leak important information to outside parties.

Zero Trust security is the only foolproof way to prevent these two threats from happening. It aids in securing healthcare networks from unauthorized access and reduces the attack surface area. Read on to find out how the healthcare sector might benefit from Zero Trust’s innovative approach.

The emergence of Zero Trust

There’s a growing demand for innovative approaches to network security as company networks grow beyond a single physical location. As a more reliable and all-encompassing security solution, the Zero Trust idea was developed. The guiding principle underlying this strategy is “never trust, always verify.” It does away with the concept of a network’s perimeter, where a user only needs to prove their identity once before being trusted for the duration of the session.

Building your network infrastructure according to the Zero Trust Architecture model is the practical implementation of the Zero Trust idea. Each user’s access is limited to the absolute minimum necessary, and they must be authenticated at every turn.

ZTA is designed to secure resources based on a user’s identification rather than their physical location on a network. Information stored on every device is accessible to anyone who can verify their identity. This strategy puts more emphasis on the future.

Healthcare breaches

There has been an uptick in data breaches across all sectors, and the healthcare sector is no different. Critical Insight found that breaches in healthcare organizations surged by 84% following the epidemic. As noted by the Department of Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR), this immediately led to an all-time peak in healthcare data breaches.

One clear pattern is that hackers are the primary source of healthcare data breaches. This is the primary factor in 73 percent of instances, whereas human error accounts for 20 percent. of data loss. If Zero Trust had been adopted on a wider scale, the figures quoted above would be lower. By design, it restricts the ways in which outsiders can access the system from within.

Reasons why healthcare businesses should use Zero Trust Architecture

Most companies are worried about cyber security threats. However, adopting ZTA practices can significantly strengthen your company’s defences against cyberattacks.

Data Privacy for All

Many network managers associate the storage media with the data’s level of safety. This isn’t always a bad idea, but it can backfire if the appropriate permissions aren’t granted. By connecting it to user authorization, ZTA makes it easier to keep private information secure. In this way, the information can be accessed from any location, providing the user has the proper authorization. Contrarily, this does not negate the need to safeguard the medium. The concept is that it shouldn’t matter where the data is stored, it should always be inaccessible to the public.

It breaks down your tasks into manageable chunks.

ZTA architecture treats the team as a subset of employees for the purposes of permission. Co-workers divide up tasks and use the same programs with a standard set of privileges. Give them the freedom they need to do their job well. Avoiding this makes it harder for hackers to get access to higher-level areas of a system to steal more sensitive information via privilege escalation. To manage your traffic load and guarantee security in the event of a data breach, we set limits on how much work may be done at once for each workload.

Find out who is connected to the network.

In a zero-trust network, every user must be known and verified. Zero Trust demands identification at each access stage, which may not sound too different from a perimeter-based strategy. Even if you’ve been authenticated and granted access to your company’s network, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have application access. You may be required to enter a different set of credentials for each application or resource you access through the ZTA. If you’re concerned about hackers using stolen password databases, you can take extra precautions by using multiple verification processes.

Computers can see across networks

With better authentication measures in place, it is possible to single out each device on the network. This allows for more network visibility, which in turn facilitates remote network administration.

Furthermore, it enables the employment of a wide range of network analysis tools for the purpose of uncovering criminal activity. There are a variety of security information management solutions available, each of which can contribute to the overall security of a firm.

Defending Healthcare Networks Against Cyber Attacks with Zero Trust

Security breaches in healthcare facilities are common because of the many interconnected computers, monitors, and other devices. In 2017, WannaCry ransomware infiltrated the computers used by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. Zero Trust is a practical replacement since it moves away from a network-centric arrangement and toward an application-centric one.

Therefore, the network is only utilized to access essential business programs. Authorized and authenticated users are then forwarded to them. This essentially flips the script on how we think about internal and external networks. The wall between authorized and unauthorized users is user authentication. It’s a new strategy, and it’s one that works considerably better than the old one at maintaining a high level of security.

The Zero Trust Healthcare Model: Next Steps

Introducing changes to your network’s architecture without a well-thought-out plan can be a major source of stress. Consider these steps as a possible starting point for introducing Zero Trust into your business.

The first: is the order of business: set up an SDP.

By design’s request, the software-defined perimeter (SDP) method of cyber defence makes invisible to outsiders all network nodes that connect to the internet. Hackers looking for open ports to exploit can’t see any connected devices unless they have been granted access. As an added layer of security, being less visible on public networks is a good idea.

Second: start using mesh networks.

Your network configuration should avoid forcing all communications to go via one centralized point. This merely leads to more backhaul traffic, which can eventually clog up the network. In such a scenario, a mesh VPN that relies on peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to establish connections between nodes is an excellent choice. Instead of funnelling all your data through a single conduit, you can maintain constant connections through multiple devices. They have lower start-up costs and are simpler to expand.

Third, set up the network access control system.

Each device’s request for access to the network is evaluated by network access control (NAC) software. By keeping an eye on all incoming connections and taking care of authentication, this solution improves your overall cybersecurity workflow.

The sensitive nature of the resource being accessed, the type of device being utilized, and other factors can all inform the choice of security policy. This affords more nuance, allowing for stricter behaviour in some situations and a more relaxed stance in others.

The Challenges of achieving Zero Trust for healthcare providers

Any kind of information technology (IT) change can be a touchy subject in a company context. When people discuss implementing a Zero Trust Architecture, you’ll typically hear the following main challenges brought up.

An absence of network data and device context.

The healthcare sector has one of the highest densities of Internet-connected gadgets of any sector. These days, your doctor is likely to use multiple connected medical and IoT gadgets that are in constant communication with each other and with the hospital’s electronic medical records system. It’s challenging to stay on top of all the available security updates and implement them in a timely manner.

If you’re an IT admin, you need to know everything about your network. If you don’t, you’re essentially choosing to ignore most potential dangers. Without adequate awareness of what exists on your network, it’s much tougher to safeguard it.

Introduce changes without damaging the existing system

Usually, for healthcare companies, safety comes system. Much more crucial is that all gadgets should work. If a patch or switch to a new network type causes too much of a commotion in a delicate ecosystem, some of the devices in that ecosystem may begin to report faults. The burden of ensuring a smooth transition is placed squarely on the shoulders of IT managers. In these situations, it is recommended to begin the switch to ZTA by eliminating the most dangerous threats first.

Inability to implement on a large scale

There is no common, scalable enforcement technology that could be adopted throughout the firm. Internal segmentation, distributed firewalls, and network access control (NAC) systems are probably the methods your administrators will use. However, more so than with other strategies, their efficacy will be contingent on your arrangement. Not only will they not be simple, but they will be complex.

Deficiency of means

The fact that, on average, just 9.8 percent of a company’s budget goes into information technology doesn’t help matters. The “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” adage has been used for a long time as an excuse to avoid spending more money.

In addition, Zero Trust implementation involves additional work hours, strategy, and fine-tuning to deliver the required results. It’s an expensive and protracted process. Seeing how IT expenditures aren’t that high for most organizations, the lack of resources might be a major issue holding the company back.

How can VaporVm help?

Among the many components of the Secure Access Service Edge, Vaporvm offers Security Service Edge. The Zero Trust concept facilitates the improvement of cybersecurity in small and medium-sized organisations.