Hospitals may be near the top of the list of entities that harbor extremely sensitive patient data and other information, but a recent study put them at the bottom of the list when it comes to cyber security. Meeting HIPAA and other compliance standards is a start, but hospital executives need to ensure their measures go beyond the minimal requirements. These 10 technologies can help.
1. Next Gen Firewall
Next generation firewalls (NGFWs) are advanced versions of the traditional firewalls that typically come with added functions. These functions are usually integrated into the firewall and can include deep packet inspection, antivirus protection, denial of service detection, intrusion prevention and anomaly detection. Your NGFW should be able to maintain high performance and availability even when new services are added.
An intrusion prevention system (IPS) may be a component of your NGFW or it can work as an independent appliance that can stand alone. In either case, the most effective IPS will give your network all the functions of an intrusion detection system (IDS) along with the ability to stop unwanted intrusions. To best suit your hospital's needs, look for one that can run in three modes: as an IPS, an IDS or as a hybrid device.
3. SSL VPN
You might already be familiar with and use a virtual private network (VPN) to allow access to hospital resources or sensitive patient information. Unless you use a Secure Sockets Layer VPN (SSL VPN), that access is akin to a welcome mat for malicious invaders and intrusions. The SSL part of the VPN assures the access to your resources is secured and all incoming and outgoing traffic is inspected. You can also build portals within your network to further restrict or allow access to specific applications and data.
4. BYOD Protection
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is far from over; it's actually growing. BYOD protection allows you to safeguard your facility's sensitive resources and patient data by implementing several technologies. Multi-factor authentication helps prevent password theft and hacking, while SSL VPN allows secure remote connectivity without installing specialized software on remote devices. BYOD protection methods should also include end-node protection that allows you to instantly block former employees or other unauthorized users from gaining access.
5. Denial of Service Protection
Your next gen firewall may be able to provide denial of service detection, but it's not enough for full-fledged protection. The protection jobs go to your IPS, which can fortify your network against traffic flood Denial of Service attacks while allowing the legitimate traffic to continue its uninterrupted flow. The job of your IPS is to rapidly identify the source of the compromised connection and just as rapidly block them.
6. Central Management Capabilities
All the security technologies in the world won't do your hospital any good if you cannot effectively manage them. Centralized management allows you to keep track of each device, policy and user on your network in one unified location. Top management systems feature an easy-to-read interface as well as the ability to share logging, reporting, auditing and other tools.
7. Web Filtering
Don't want your employees to access suspicious, dangerous or time-wasting websites? Filter them out. Web filtering protects your network and sensitive data by blocking access to known phishing sites and malware that can trick people into clicking on hazardous links or malicious downloads.
8. IPv6 Security
Even if your hospital was fortified to the hilt for Internet Protocol version 4, you may not be ready for IPv6. Internet Protocol version 6 requires additional security measures that your current firewall or IPS may not be able to handle. Go for dual stack mode for IPv6 implementation and make sure your IPS features deep inspection of IPv6 traffic. Also ensure you pay close attention to your tunnels, offering the same deep inspection as you would for outside traffic.
9. AET Protection
Advanced evasion techniques (AETs) are tricky ways malicious intruders get into your system. The malicious intruders disguise themselves to look like valid, normal traffic, which allows them to bypass security measures. AET protection provides inspection methods that won't let the intruders hide, ferreting them out of the normal traffic flow using a data stream-based approach with layered protocol analysis.
10. Virtualization Security
Virtualization has become the norm, especially in cramped quarters or in large-scale operations, such as hospitals and other entities in the healthcare industry. The concept allows you to set up a virtual version of any device, operating system, resource or application on a single server. It can save time, money and space, but it can also end up compromised if not adequately fortified. Traditional firewalls and IPSs are not robust enough to protect virtualized environments, but advanced virtual firewalls and virtual IPSs can be. Retrofitted virtual environments also pose severe security risks. Instead go for virtual appliances, such as SSL VPN, and easy-to-manage software products.
Richard Benigno is senior vice president, North America, Stonesoft.