Achieving HIPAA Compliance: Dynamic Endpoint and Patch Management

When you work in a sprawling healthcare complex, where are you going throughout the day?

​​It’s not just about the hospital. It’s about the outpatient clinic, the physical therapy center, the nursing home, and all of the buildings that make up your healthcare system.

It’s also about tracking all of those devices as they move between them—and making sure they’re always safe. How do you make sure they’re being used and updated properly? How do you keep track of their maintenance, especially when they’re moving between departments and floors?

And when costs aren’t trickling down to security, how can teams safeguard Protected Health Information (PHI) while dealing with mainframe and legacy software?

Such are the realities that IT teams in healthcare have to contend with when it comes to protecting patient health data. You don’t just need confidence. You need live data and proof.

How Legacy, Mainframe, and Other Everyday Operations Put HIPAA Compliance at Risk

Healthcare systems can be on-premises, in the cloud, or spread across multiple clouds.

Whether applications are fully cloud-based or on-premises, protection continues to be complex. Plenty of healthcare providers still use mainframe and other legacy on-premises systems as the core of their record systems.

Transactions within these older systems travel externally through cloud applications and back as part of a transaction. Unbeknownst to many cloud system users, legacy transactional system connections are part of the workflow.

Healthcare organizations patch systems they believe are involved in PHI but miss other systems where privacy data flows.

It’s impossible to be aware of all the little habits and everyday operations that can introduce vulnerabilities (or tell them to come on in and wipe their feet on the “Welcome Home” mat.) While healthcare facilities are designed to keep patients safe, what do you do when your own employees are a threat?

Practices like:

  • Account sharing
  • Reluctance to implement two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Fractured teams
  • Using pagers and fax machines
  • Preferring to use an outdated version of software
  • Using legacy systems that haven’t been updated in 20+ years
  • Applications running on Windows XP, 2000, and 98
  • Having no documentation/playbooks for incident response
  • Being stuck in a reactionary cycle

… All create security risks.

While a healthcare system or cloud may seem completely protected, vulnerabilities still exist, ready to be exploited due to these weaknesses.

What’s Worse: Badly Done or Not Patching at All? They Both Lead to Data Breaches

Is it a case of choosing the lesser evil? Badly done patching or no patching at all? Unfortunately, both paths lead to data breaches.

If you don’t update your software, you’re leaving yourself open to attack by hackers who could easily exploit holes in your system—holes that could’ve been fixed with a simple update.

A study by the Ponemon Institute found that 68% of data breaches occur because patch management is poorly executed.

Among companies that suffered a data breach:

  • 61% of respondents said their organizations were at a disadvantage in responding to vulnerabilities because they used manual patching processes.
  • 55% added that their dependence on manual processes for patch management had led to backlogs and errors. (The report recommends replacing manual processes with automated patching solutions.)
  • 57% said these breaches probably occurred due to a patch being available for a known vulnerability that had not been implemented.

So what can you do?

  1. Make sure that all of your devices are up-to-date with their latest patches.
  2. Check for third-party software patches.

The downside is this requires manually searching for and applying patches. Doing this manually eats up a ton of time and resources for IT teams, which diverts skill away from other crucial tasks (not that patching isn’t crucial.)

Organizations are exploring automated patching to simplify and expedite the process. Tasks that would normally take hours or days to complete happen in minutes or seconds—without having to expand your team. In today’s world of security, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

But what does it look like in a cyber-threat landscape that’s constantly evolving?

Build Your Own Dynamic Endpoint Management That Covers Vulnerability Scans, Patching, and Compliance

There will never be a “silver bullet” solution for cybersecurity. Instead, a successful approach is one that uses multiple tactics in concert with one another—a symphony of security.

Syxsense Enterprise is one platform that lets you be proactive instead of reactive.

With built-in workflow automation, you can offload the most time-consuming and painful parts of your cybersecurity practices—the parts that keep you from achieving higher goals. Like protecting your PHI, saving time, and money, and ultimately focusing on what matters most: healing people.

We speak with overworked MSPs and teams every day, and so many of them say they need a lead time of mastery that’s only a few hours—not six months. (Patients and hackers aren’t waiting for six months.)

Need help with all of the above?

There’s a real-time security solution for healthcare. Schedule a demo with us today.