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The role of endpoint security in today’s healthcare IT environment

Susan Biddle, Sr. Director of Healthcare at Fortinet | Jan. 16, 2017
Here's a closer look at the role endpoint security in today’s healthcare environment, and why it needs to be part of the larger network security puzzle.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

This is the number of opportunities a cybercriminal needs to exploit healthcare network vulnerabilities, steal passwords, install malware, and ultimately work their way through the entire IT ecosystem. Once inside, they could hijack control of medical equipment, gain access to patient data, and much more, ultimately putting patient lives and organisational reputation on the line.

The shift towards deploying and managing a more patient-friendly healthcare environment that includes the myriad of devices being accessed by patients and employees can be very challenging, especially when it comes to endpoint security. 

Let's take a closer look at the role endpoint security plays in today's healthcare environment, and why it needs to be part of the larger network security puzzle. 

Supporting the Patient-Centric Care Movement

Healthcare providers of all types are now being required to provide platforms that allow for seamless communication and collaboration between key stakeholders. As a result, information that needs to be securely shared and stored is now flowing at an increasingly rapid rate, and in many different directions, creating a need for security solutions that can support these exchanges.

This move towards patient-centric network services has decentralised the monitoring process and resulted in patients, providers, and other stakeholders accessing information that originates from outside the hospital's physical walls.

The more information accessed and shared outside the hospital setting, the greater the risk of malicious content working its way inside. While some healthcare systems are adjusting to these changes by employing endpoint security and robust security solutions, there are still a number of organisations that have left the doors to their data wide open. Endpoint security is critical to keeping the patient and other stakeholders' data secure.

Securing Endpoints Related to the Increased BYOD Interest

The growing number of connected devices used by employees in the healthcare sector is leading to more information sharing, but it's also placing the endpoint at greater risk than ever before. It's very common to see smartphones, tablets, and laptops being used inside today's hospitals, and the data that's being accessed needs to be secured, from the Internet to the endpoint. This data often contains sensitive medical information that's being shared between healthcare professionals, including medical imaging data, transcriptions, prescriptions, and more, and typically needs to be vetted by a number of different individuals (physicians, employers, claims processors, etc.) to determine protocols and procedures.

This need for a collaborative digital workspace to enable internal and external collaboration makes it critical that endpoint security be taken seriously. Without appropriate endpoint security solutions in place, healthcare systems will not be able to enhance their existing systems and processes without an overabundance of risk.

 

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