26 JAN, 2021

Why Healthcare Providers Should Have Regular Penetration Tests

Healthcare organisations may have the correct technology and procedures in place to prevent data theft, but it is difficult for them to find and detect every security vulnerability that they have. To help protect your networks and any electronic patient health information that you hold, it is vital that you examine your environment from the way a hacker would.

Ethical hacking or penetration testing is crucial to the healthcare industry, which is the art of analysing network environments, identifying potential vulnerabilities and trying to exploit them just as a hacker would. The difference though is that those conducting the pen tests are on your side.

Penetration testing is vital for your security and can help with various forms of compliance. But first, what exactly is a penetration or “pen” test?

What is a penetration test?

Penetration or “pen” tests are a vulnerability testing approach in which analysts identify any potential weaknesses and attempt to exploit them as a hacker would. They are like an MRI scan for your organisation, as it is the real-world security testing of the requirements that you believe are in place, and a great way to actually see the evidence of any problems your security systems may have.

Automated scans will be run and then penetration testers will manually test your website, portals that hold patient information or other networks and applications to see if there is a way into your patient data using different hacker tools. If any ways to that data are found, these will be reported to you as vulnerabilities with recommendations on how you can better defend your systems. This is particularly helpful for healthcare organisations who are developing their own applications, as it is important to have code and system functions tested by objective third parties. This helps to find any vulnerabilities that have been missed by the app developers.

Depending on the security needs of your healthcare organisation, you may need to conduct an internal and external penetration test. An internal test is when pen testers test systems within your organisational networks, and an external pen test is when pen testers test from a perspective of an open public network.

Why should your healthcare organisation get a penetration test?

An organisations IT environment often determines what types of attacks to which they are susceptible. Defects in web browsers, operating systems and server interfaces can all allow attackers to gain access to key systems and data.

Every security plan should therefore be tailored to each individual network component. Penetration testing can often identify many of the weaknesses that are commonly found in application code and is the best form of defence in identifying any vulnerabilities before that code is deployed.

How often should your healthcare organisation get a penetration test?

It is important to first consider what your healthcare organisation considers to be a major change. For any organisation size, if you install new hardware or start accepting your patient data in a different way, this would be considered a major change. Whenever any of these large infrastructure changes occur, you will want to perform a formal penetration test to ensure that the change has not added any new vulnerabilities to your network, in addition to having an annual penetration test.

How can CyBourn help your healthcare organisation?

To improve cybersecurity in healthcare, organisations need to ensure that not only is their data well protected, but also that their staff are fully trained against the growing cyber threat. At CyBourn, we have a range of services that can help, including penetration testing, designed to give you full peace of mind when it comes to your cybersecurity posture. We are a global cybersecurity company with a mission to address challenges in technologies and operations in cyberspace, and we increase protection by providing forward-thinking transparent services for threat detection, prevention, and response.

To find out more, contact us today.


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