Securing the Healthcare Industry is a Tall Order

Wednesday 29 November 2023 16:49
Attributed to Jonathon Dixon, Vice President and MD, APJC, Cloudflare
Securing the Healthcare Industry is a Tall Order

The healthcare industry in Asia Pacific is growing to become one of the key drivers of the region's economy, with a projected value of USD115.9 billion by 2027. In Thailand, healthcare is a huge and booming market, with the country recognized as one of the world's most competitive destinations for high-quality and affordable care.

An essential, evolving sector that requires continuous innovation, the healthcare ecosystem is made up of various stakeholders such as doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators. They generate, store, and share a vast amount of data daily, such as medical records, treatment plans, test results, and billing information. Undoubtedly, the smooth flow of this data is crucial for efficient healthcare delivery, but it also brings to the fore significant security and privacy concerns.

Examining the cybersecurity landscape in Thailand and the impact on the healthcare industry today

Ensuring there are strong measures to protect data security and privacy is key as the overall cybersecurity landscape has become more challenging. A new study conducted by Cloudflare in July 2023 involving a wide range of industries, including healthcare, found that 6 in 10 (57%) of respondents from Thailand organizations experienced more than 10 cybersecurity incidents in the last year. These incidents also proved costly for organizations in Thailand, with two-thirds (65%) of respondents incurring a financial impact of at least US$1 million in the last 12 months. Within the healthcare industry, cybercriminals are targeting healthcare organizations due to the rewards that can be reaped from obtaining patient data for identity theft, financial fraud, or ransomware attacks.

Another issue stems from intricate healthcare systems composed of multiple stakeholders, such as healthcare providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and third-party suppliers. Each entity requires access to sensitive patient data, which increases the likelihood of insider threats and accidental data breaches caused by human error or improper authorization. While electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, and other digital systems have simplified data access, sharing, and storage, they have also introduced new risks for cyberattacks and data breaches.

The frequency and sophistication of cybersecurity risks within the healthcare industry in Thailand are growing, fuelled by the industry's continued innovation. With more digital touchpoints introduced, malicious actors gain more potential avenues to launch their attack. Yet, less than half (48%) of respondents indicated they were highly prepared to prevent cybersecurity incidents.

When medical devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks, patient safety is compromised. Clearly, it has become more important than ever for healthcare organizations to adopt a holistic and proactive approach to cybersecurity to safeguard sensitive personal and medical data, ensure the continuous availability of healthcare without disruptions, and protect patients from malicious activities by cybercriminals.

Securing the healthcare ecosystem

One Thai organization that has leveraged technology to secure access while maintaining strict patient health information standards is Bumrungrad International Hospital. The hospital has been at the forefront of medicine in Thailand for over 40 years, serving over a million patients from 190 countries annually.

As a leading medical provider in a highly regulated sector, Bumrungrad needs to prioritize patient confidentiality across all its operations. The hospital partnered with Cloudflare as its security partner, putting in place CDN, Web Application Firewall (WAF), and Bot Management services that are consistent with US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and HITECH requirements. When it comes to mitigating volumetric threats like bots and DDoS attacks, the Cloudflare WAF, bot management, and rate limiting stop an average of 37,000 threats to the hospital site and web applications each month. Evidently, a secure network perimeter is key, so that the hospital can continue focusing on delivering quality healthcare and maintaining patient trust.

Here are a few crucial cybersecurity solutions that healthcare organizations should consider implementing:

Zero Trust framework: The Zero Trust approach verifies all users and devices regardless of location, implementing strict access controls to reduce unauthorized access and enhance security.

Network and endpoint security: Implementing advanced measures like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and secure network architecture strengthens the healthcare ecosystem against cyber threats. Endpoint protection solutions, such as antivirus software and encryption, safeguard against malware, data breaches, and unauthorized access.

Regular security audits and penetration testing: Frequent audits and testing identify vulnerabilities, allowing proactive strengthening of security infrastructure and minimizing data breach risks.

Employee training and awareness: Educating employees on cybersecurity best practices, like identifying phishing emails and handling sensitive data securely, is crucial for risk mitigation and creating a cybersecurity-aware culture.

Data encryption and privacy measures: Encrypting data at rest and in transit protects patient information. Robust privacy measures, including access controls and audit logs, ensure compliance and maintain patient trust.

The evolving security landscape and increasing complexity of healthcare systems present significant challenges and risks. However, by adopting these solutions, healthcare organizations in Thailand can enhance their cybersecurity posture and mitigate cyberattacks.

Collaboration among healthcare stakeholders will be key in establishing industry-wide standards and best practices to address cybersecurity risks, maintain patient safety and privacy, and ensure the always-on availability of medical services By proactively addressing these challenges and implementing effective solutions, the Thai healthcare industry in this region can ensure the secure access, sharing, and storage of sensitive patient information, while continuing to deliver high-quality care and maintaining trust in the healthcare ecosystem.

Source: FAQ

Securing the Healthcare Industry is a Tall Order