Frameworks for Cybersecurity in Healthcare: Advantages, Examples, Recommendations

Healthcare is a specific industry where cybersecurity is crucial. A healthcare website or app hacking can lead to a major leakage of sensitive information. That is why all digital healthcare products (websites, applications, technologies, devices) must comply with strict security standards. The best way to reach this compliance is by using cybersecurity frameworks (CSF).

 

What is a CSF?

In simple terms, a cybersecurity framework is a set of guides aimed at minimizing the risks of cyber-attacks and reducing the product’s vulnerability. It includes various practices, approaches, and guidelines, which help make IT-products, such as EHR software, more secure and resistant to cyber-attacks.

At the same time, a framework is different from a prescription, as it just offers a set of methods for reaching a high level of cybersecurity. Still, it doesn’t exclude the possibility of using other or alternative methods.

A cybersecurity framework is not a rock-solid rule; instead, this is a flexible document that can be modified as often as needed. It changes along with the changes in technologies and types of cyber threats.

The main goals of a CSF include:

  • to point out the current cybersecurity status;
  • to define the needed security tools and methods;
  • to improve the situations using these tools and methods;
  • to estimate the progress;
  • to reduce communication risks.

 

Any cybersecurity framework includes three essential components. Let’s have a closer look at each of them.

  • The core of the structure is the set of actions needed to reach the specified goal. These activities are spread across the whole organization.
  • Implementation tiers are related to cybersecurity management on different levels. They help optimize the implementation process.
  • Profiles are the company’s assets and premises that help align the company’s activities with the industry’s standards.

Framework components

 

Cybersecurity Frameworks in Healthcare

There is every reason to use CSF in healthcare. The fact is that the healthcare industry is vulnerable to both external and internal cyber threats. External threats are various cyber-attacks. Internal threats, in turn, come from employees who willingly or unwillingly violate confidentiality. For example, they abuse their access rights and make confidential information public.

CSF helps address these problems in several ways. Let’s take the NIST framework as an example to see how it helps in fighting with security issues.

  1. Being a complicated guideline, including multiple practices for ensuring cybersecurity, NIST is specifically designed to assist in the creation of the most secure environment. At the same time, it is not a strict prescription but a set of flexible recommendations that are easily adapted for any healthcare company’s specific use.
  2. NIST uses its three components to ensure maximum security, taking into account the company’s business requirements, risk-resistance, and economic potential.

To put it simply, the CSF helps manage security risks and align a specific business with existing technical requirements to safety.

 

Implementation of a Cybersecurity Framework in the Healthcare Industry

A CSF implementation is a multi-stage process. We’ll review the seven main steps of this process.

  1. Setting goals and prioritizing. To choose the right tools and methods, one must see the scope of work and understand what objectives have to be reached.
  2. Calculating the current approaches to risk management. At this stage, the company finds out what resources it does have currently and what standards and/or guidelines it must comply with. Also, it estimates the existing risk management approach and its weak points.
  3. Making a target risk management profile. In simple words, this is an ideal risk management system that would prevent potential unique risks.
  4. Estimating the current risks. At this stage, the company needs to assess the current risks of security breaches emergence and the overall vulnerability of the entity.
  5. Making the current risk management profile. Based on the previously derived information, the company makes the current profile of cybersecurity risks. The primary purpose is to get a whole independent picture of the current state of affairs.
  6. Analyzing the gap between the target and current profiles and working out an action plan. In other words, you must see your weak points and work out the methods of improving the situation. Here, the brainstorming approach can work.
  7. Implementing the plan. This includes practical actions aimed at eliminating the gap between the current and the target profiles.

Keep in mind that the plan implementation is not the final stage. To estimate the efficiency of the program, the company will need to monitor the situation continuously. By doing so, you will understand whether the framework meets your expectations.

 

Five Examples of Cybersecurity Frameworks for the Healthcare Industry

Let’s make a brief overview of top-5 cybersecurity frameworks for healthcare, according to HIMSS, and see why they are so popular.

Cyber security frameworks, by usage

  1. NIST CFS is the most popular security framework ever. It is developed by the American National Institute of Standards and Technology and used in many industries, including healthcare. The main principles forming this framework are the principles of collaboration, threat modeling, and intelligence.
  2. HITRUST, which stands for Health Information Trust Alliance, is the other popular framework. It includes guidelines for risk assessment, awareness, etc. Also, it uses the ISO/IEC 27001:2005 information security standard.
  3. Critical Security Controls by CIS. Frankly, speaking, this is not a separate framework but a set of practices that are often used in combination with other structures.
  4. ISO 27000 series relate to the ISO standards for the systems of information security management. In the field of healthcare, they can help keep track of rapidly changing requirements for data protection.
  5. COBIT CFS makes a focus not just on security but also on the overall IT-sphere efficiency. Meanwhile, it is used by many companies. In particular, they use it to implement the action plans worked out with the help of other security frameworks.
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Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad. It’s an iOS app development company in Ukraine. He enjoys telling about tech innovations and digital ways to boost businesses.

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