Cybersecurity - How to avoid data breaches

Cybersecurity - How to avoid data breaches

September 04, 2015
John-Philip Galinski
From the August 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
With increasingly sophisticated attacks being carried out and health care getting targeted more and more often, it’s vital that facilities take the steps necessary to ensure their data remain secure.

Usernames and passwords are not even close to enough
Social engineering, phishing, key loggers and a host of other malware and password theft tactics are alive and well. Regardless of the method, the number of data thefts worldwide has grown from “insignificant” to “devastating and frequent” in the past 10 years. By themselves, user credentials have become effectively meaningless.

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The only way to combat password theft is to utilize a physical token that is required in addition to the user credentials: a prox card, a challenge/ response passcode, or ideally a biometric. Access to particularly sensitive data should use a combination of physical tokens.

Data security functions need to be separated from IT
As a CIO for the majority of my career, I can guarantee you that it’s human nature, and especially so for IT people, to try to make their work lives as effective and efficient as possible. Unfortunately that often translates to providing both themselves as well as the users that they support with streamlined access to data. If they don’t provide streamlined access, they become “those guys that make our lives miserable.”

Not only is this unfair to your IT staff, it’s completely unrealistic. Network and data security are not part time jobs. Hackers are hackers full time. They don’t just dabble. Hackers are passionate and driven. Therefore, you need security staff that are just as passionate, driven, and dedicated as the hackers that they’re defending you from.

Security staff should be separated from the rest of your IT team and should report directly to the head of your IT operation, either the CIO or CTO. In fact, there is a strong case for having your chief of information security report directly to the COO. And here’s why: Your IT organization is tasked with the 24x7 job of ensuring that everything runs smoothly and without any downtime. When presented with a project that may result in a short-term security risk but will get the project done more quickly, it’s far too easy to rationalize the risk away.

Data security policies and procedures need to be elevated to a primary function even ahead of project completion. Is continual progress important? Absolutely! But one data breach can wipe out several years of successful project completion. Your security team should be running usage reports, auditing activities, and performing usage and trend analysis, down to individual users, to really understand the data flow within your organization.

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