Digital workplace security for healthcare

Doctors and hospital’s staff use more and more mobile devices for administration and patient communication or to access electronic healthcare records. They expect to be able to reliably access hospital assets and systems from anywhere, as medical staff are becoming more mobile and using multiple devices. Controlling security and access points has become increasingly important in the healthcare setting and beyond.

To protect these mobile usages, it is critical to secure the access to applications from anywhere and on any device with strong authentication, provide endpoint protection solutions and digital signature to guarantee the integrity of electronic documents like prescriptions.

There are several technologies required to protect digital workplace security, these are detailed below:

Single sign-on (SSO)

One of the key cybersecurity challenges in healthcare is the increase in the number of passwords. Today’s hospitals have a wide range of applications that clinicians and office workers need to access. Each of them requires specific passwords with different security policies.

Single sign-on simplifies access for users without compromising on security. SSO allows employees to authenticate once for the duration of their session and access all applications without the need to sign in again, reducing friction within the hospital and frees users from remembering passwords. This reduced friction helps to redefine the workforce to spend less time on administration and access and allows more time for care.

One key use case for healthcare is about fast user switching: staff on busy wards or accident & emergency department (A&E) often need to share kiosk PCs. SSO enable quicker access without having to restart the session. It is combined by session parking allowing a clinician to return to their previous open applications even if somebody else has used the workstation since, with a full audit trail and dashboard reports that identifies which individuals used which applications.

Web access management (WAM)

With telehealth, research work and clinical trials being processed all over the world, cloud usages have increased within healthcare and life sciences institutions. Using policies web access management restricts users to only allow them access to data and applications on the cloud and on-premises, relevant to their role, seniority, and department.

Also, web access management enables cloud identity security to automatically provision (and de-provision) user accounts to Cloud providers, as well as creating and managing service accounts without any impact on Cloud applications, helping to control costs and prevent identity sprawl for users.

Digital signature

Reducing the vast amount of paperwork doctors and other employees who work within the healthcare industry are required to sign can increase productivity and enable patients to be seen quicker, reducing delays, and improving on patient satisfaction.

Digital signatures are also a crucial element helping to ensure the integrity of electronic documents, such as prescriptions or laboratory analysis, and verify the integrity of the signer (doctor, patient, administration…). Finally, advanced digital signature can help guarantee that hospitals and laboratories collect explicit consent from patients for critical documents such as admission forms, as required by some regulations.

Endpoint detection & response (EDR)

Traditional virus protection solutions are no longer sufficient to protect healthcare organization against attacks and don’t stop advanced, evasive and mutating threats. In addition, device types are evolving quickly and move more and more from fully managed endpoints to a blend of non-standard and IoT devices, such as connected medical devices.

As healthcare organizations hold very sensitive data, it is critical to ensure they are secured at all times. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems monitor and track activity to identify any potential threats or suspicious activity. By monitoring and recording endpoint system level behaviours, including user, file, process, registry, memory, and network events the EDR system can stop malicious activity and prevent issues before they occur. This includes the ability to identify and stop insider attacks, including data exfiltration through data loss prevention solutions.

Network access control (NAC)

Digital workplace security requires network access control (NAC). NAC protects the perimeter of the entire network from potential threats and attempted breaches. Through sets of policies and rules network access control determines who and what device is permitted to access the network.

One of the key aspects of NAC in a healthcare setting is the protection of medical devices. Connected medical devices have grown significantly and are aiding patient treatment and healthcare settings to provider better, more connected services and information to patients. However, connected medical devices, if not properly managed, can become entry points for cyber security breaches, sometimes even posing risks to patient’s data and patients who rely on connected medical devices to keep them alive.

Part of network access control is the identification and classification of each medical device; this classification then restricts devices so they can only access relevant networks and importantly restricts what networks can access the device. Carefully designed policies and network segmentation is critical when it comes to the management of connected medical devices. This is the best way to avoid potential access points open, that could lead to a cybersecurity attack.

For more information on digital workplace security in the healthcare settings or to speak to one of the team about how Atos can help advise and provide secure solutions please contact our healthcare team.

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