Why are Healthcare Institutions Adopting Cyber Fusion Strategies?
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Why are Healthcare Institutions Adopting Cyber Fusion Strategies?

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Posted on: April 08, 2022

Why are Healthcare Institutions Adopting Cyber Fusion Strategies?
Healthcare institutions are some of the most critical entities for the population of any country. In the modern cyber landscape, healthcare organizations continually face evolving cyberthreats that can put patient safety at risk. Due to the sensitive nature of healthcare data and processes, a lot of cybercriminals gravitate toward the sector to pilfer crucial data, conduct extortion, or cause disruption in critical services. This has forced healthcare organizations to reconsider their cybersecurity readiness and adopt new ways to defend their infrastructure.

Significance of Healthcare Cybersecurity

In its March 2022 threat briefing, the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), highlighted the consistent threats posed by ransomware, data breaches, vulnerabilities, phishing, and RDP hacks against healthcare organizations. Apart from these, it noted the rise in distributed attack vectors, including managed service provider compromise, supply chain compromise, and open-source software compromise.

In recent years, there have been numerous cyberattacks against healthcare providers that resulted in delays or cancelations of medical treatments for patients. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals have shown no mercy on healthcare providers engaged in critical care as well as vaccine research groups, public healthcare officials, and other stakeholders. The likes of Maze ransomware, TrickBot botnet, Emotet trojan, Ryuk ransomware, REvil ransomware, and other notorious cybercrime operations have left healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) reeling from continuous destructive cyberattacks.

Many healthcare organizations lack the resources needed to combat this surge in cyber threats, thereby resulting in inadequate protection of patient data, medical devices, and critical operations. Fortunately, cyber fusion is helping turn the tide in securing healthcare organizations by providing a holistic approach to cybersecurity that leverages the full capabilities of the people, processes, and technologies deployed by organizations. 

Use Cases

The adoption of cyber fusion centers (CFCs) transforms security operations for healthcare organizations to help them secure their critical assets and operations. Some of the key use cases include:- 

  • Threat Response Automation: Ransomware groups often use stolen patient data to extract large ransoms from targeted healthcare entities. With the use of cyber fusion combined with security orchestration and automated response (SOAR), security teams can create automated threat response workflows to stop ransomware gangs and other attackers in their tracks to secure patient data. 
  • Threat Hunting: Legacy systems lacking vendor support and critical vulnerability patches allow attackers an easy entry into healthcare networks. Through a cyber fusion center (CFC), security teams can proactively hunt for any threats attempting to intrude their systems and also use known vulnerability exploitation indicators as intelligence inputs to trigger response actions to prevent a crisis. 
  • Crisis Communication: In times of a medical emergency, one cannot afford to suffer any delays in receiving medical care. But that is exactly what can occur if emergency medical services (EMS) are hit by a severe cyberattack. EMS operators often face phishing attacks trying to gain control over their systems or infect them with malware. Through a CFC, operators can ensure that even if one of their employees falls prey to such an attack, it can be prevented from spreading laterally across their networks by sharing threat information and coordinating response actions with all stakeholders through the CFC.
  • Vulnerability management: Another often ignored dimension of healthcare cybersecurity is the risks faced by patients using connected health devices, such as infusion pumps, implantable devices, and vital monitors, among others. Makers of connected health devices or software applications can use cyber fusion to track and rapidly respond to threats arising from improper patching, insecure third-party software/hardware components, and insecure interfaces. In a CFC, security teams can create automated workflows to patch vulnerabilities or implement workarounds to prevent the exploitation of healthcare devices.
  • Information Sharing: A CFC enables real-time information sharing among different security teams within an organization as well as allows decision-makers to coordinate and collaborate with other healthcare organizations through information sharing communities (ISACs/ISAOs) or private enterprise sharing networks. 
  • Threat Intel Operationalization: Cyber fusion facilitates the ingestion of threat intel from multiple sources, such as ISAC advisories, OSINT sources, commercial intel feeds, research blogs, and insights from internal telemetry from SIEM, firewall, IDS/IPS, and other tools, into threat detection and response workflows. By integrating threat intel into SecOps activities, a CFC sets the stage for rapid threat intel operationalization.
  • Threat Alerting: Based on the role, location, and business unit a professional belongs to, they require different alerts to stay cognizant of the critical threats affecting their operations. A CFC provides threat alerting in real-time across different roles to allow for rapid actioning during a cybersecurity crisis.
  • Alert Aggregation and Centralized Storage: Security teams receive a barrage of alerts from numerous tools in their technology stack on a daily basis. Through automated alert aggregation from external (TI feeds, ISAC/CERT advisories) and internal sources (SIEM, VM, IT/ITSM tools) in a single window, a CFC simplifies alert triage and investigation for security analysts. Along with this, a CFC uses automation to categorize alerts based on several parameters such as TLP, category, and sources, thereby providing a centralized, orderly, and seamless management of all historical alerts. This aids in sharing real-time alerts with security teams and CISOs, performing threat investigations, prioritizing threat actioning, and more.  
  • Cyber/Physical Incident Reporting: Quick reporting leads to a quicker response. A CFC can enable users to share threat intelligence or report cyber/physical incidents or threats using web and mobile devices at any time or place. Enriched, anonymized threat intelligence can also be shared with members spread across different locations through a centralized CFC.
  • Threat Assessments: Security leaders need real-time insights into the impact of malware, vulnerabilities, cyber/physical incidents on their business infrastructure across different subsidiaries and vendors. A CFC gives security leaders the ability to assess their threat environment and create follow-up alerts and actions for effective threat mitigation.
  • Secure Messaging: Professionals working in different security functions, senior executives, and other key personnel within an organization can collaborate and strategize their mitigation measures against specific threats by discussing with their counterparts from other organizations using secure messaging capabilities within a CFC. 
  • Intel Collaboration: To promote collaboration in security operations, CFCs provide members the ability to create Requests for Information (RFIs) to gather information on specific threats, operational activities, policies, or other issues. In a CFC, members can also create alerts from RFIs submitted by other members and further collaboration among security analysts and other professionals developing and managing the organization’s technology infrastructure.
  • Action Management: A CFC provides a streamlined system for assigning, tracking, and managing threat response and asset management operations. This simplifies security governance for decision-makers as they can create their customized incident workflows, map them to different parameters, and define rules for assigning different workflows based on their needs.

Benefits of Adopting Cyber Fusion

Cyber fusion involves the integration of different security functions, such as incident response, vulnerability management, and threat hunting, under a single roof. It lays the ground for streamlined security processes that result in several benefits when it comes to healthcare cybersecurity.

  • Enhanced Threat Visibility - A CFC provides unparalleled visibility for security managers and senior executives over a distributed technology infrastructure. CFCs provide security decision-makers with a single interface to take stock of all their threat management activities.
  • Improved Cyber Strategy - By ingesting threat intelligence in security operations along with security orchestration and automation, cyber fusion allows security teams to reshape their strategies to leverage the best of human expertise and machine capabilities to proactively curb a variety of threats.  
  • Faster Response - Cyber fusion helps remove bottlenecks and inefficiencies in threat response by leveraging SOAR technologies that combine the best of human intelligence along with machine capabilities.
  • Enhanced Security Maturity - Cyber fusion helps organizations move higher in their cybersecurity maturity curve by integrating different security functions, operationalization of threat intelligence, and sharing threat information among all the stakeholders. 
  • Collective Defense - Cyber fusion brings different stakeholders within an organization on the same page through security integration. Additionally, it sets the stage for further information sharing and threat intel operationalization by enhancing collaboration with external partners and ISACs.

Conclusion

Whether it is hospitals, clinics, emergency service providers, medical device manufacturers, or public health agencies, the healthcare sector includes many stakeholders that face growing cyber risks to their infrastructure. It is crucial for healthcare organizations to reimagine their approach to cybersecurity through cyber fusion to integrate and streamline their security operations while removing bottlenecks and improving overall performance. This will aid patient safety and boost the cyber resiliency of medical care in the long term. 

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