- 58% of healthcare systems breach attempts involve inside actors, which makes this the leading industry for insider threats today.
- Ransomware leads all malicious code categories, responsible for 70% of breach attempt incidents.
- Stealing laptops from medical professionals’ cars to obtain privileged access credentials to gain access and install malware on healthcare networks, exfiltrate valuable data or sabotage systems and applications are all common breach strategies.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Verizon’s 2018 Protected Health Information Data Breach Report (PHIDBR). A copy of the study is available for download here (PDF, 20 pp., no opt-in). The study is based on 1,368 incidents across 27 countries. Healthcare medical records were the focus of breaches, and the data victims were patients and their medical histories, treatment plans, and identities. The data comprising the report is a subset of Verizon’s Annual Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) and spans 2016 and 2017.
Why Healthcare Needs Zero Trust Security To Grow
One of the most compelling insights from the Verizon PHIDBR study is how quickly healthcare is becoming a digitally driven business with strong growth potential. What’s holding its growth back, however, is how porous healthcare digital security is. 66% of internal and external actors are abusing privileged access credentials to access databases and exfiltrate proprietary information, and 58% of breach attempts involve internal actors.
Solving the security challenges healthcare providers face is going to fuel faster growth. Digitally-enabled healthcare providers and fast-growing digital businesses in other industries are standardizing on Zero Trust Security (ZTS), which aims to protect every internal and external endpoint and attack surface. ZTS is based on four pillars, which include verifying the identity of every user, validating every device, limiting access and privilege, and learning and adapting using machine learning to analyze user behavior and gain greater insights from analytics.
Identities Need to Be Every Healthcare Providers’ New Security Perimeter
ZTS starts by defining a digital business’ security perimeter as every employees’ and patients’ identity, regardless of their location. Every login attempt, resource request, device operating system, and many other variables are analyzed using machine learning algorithms in real time to produce a risk score, which is used to empower Next-Gen Access (NGA).
The higher the risk score, the more authentication is required before providing access. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is required first, and if a login attempt doesn’t pass, additional screening is requested up to shutting off an account’s access.
NGA is proving to be an effective strategy for thwarting stolen and sold healthcare provider’s privileged access credentials from gaining access to networks and systems, combining Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM). Centrify is one of the leaders in this field, with expertise in the healthcare industry.
NGA can also assure healthcare providers’ privileged access credentials don’t make the best seller list on the Dark Web. Another recent study from Accenture titled, “Losing the Cyber Culture War in Healthcare: Accenture 2018 Healthcare Workforce Survey on Cybersecurity” found that 18% of healthcare employees are willing to sell confidential data to unauthorized parties for as little as $500 to $1,000. 24% of employees know of someone who has sold privileged credentials to outsiders, according to the survey. By verifying every login attempt from any location, NGA can thwart the many privilege access credentials for sale on the Dark Web.
The following are the key takeaways from Verizon’s 2018 Protected Health Information Data Breach Report (PHIDBR):
- 58% of healthcare security breach attempts involve inside actors, which makes it the leading industry for insider threats today. External actors are attempting 42% of healthcare breaches. Inside actors rely on their privileged access credentials or steal them from fellow employees to launch breaches the majority of the time. By utilizing NGA, healthcare providers can get this epidemic of internal security breaches under control by forcing verification for every access request, anywhere, on a 24/7 basis.
- Most healthcare breaches are motivated by financial gain, with healthcare workers most often using patient data to commit tax return and credit fraud. Verizon found 876 total breach incidents initiated by healthcare insiders in 2017, leading all categories. External actors initiated 523 breach incidents, while partners initiated 109 breach incidents. 496 of all breach attempts are motivated by financial gain across internal, external and partner actors. Internal actors are known for attempting breaches for fun and curiosity-driven by interest in celebrities’ health histories that are accessible from the systems they use daily. When internal actors are collaborating with external actors and partners for financial gain and accessing confidential health records of patients, it’s time for healthcare providers to take a more aggressive stance on securing patient records with a Zero Trust approach.
- Abusing privileged access credentials (66%) and abusing credentials and physical access points (17%) to gain unauthorized access comprise 82.9% of all misuse-based breach attempts and incidents. Verizon’s study accentuates that misuse of credentials and the breaching of physical access points with little or no security is intentional, deliberate and driven by financial gain the majority of the time. Internal, external and partner actors acting alone or in collaboration with each other know the easiest attack surface to exploit are accessed credentials, with database access being the goal half of the time. When there’s little to no protection on web application and payment card access points to a network, breaches happen. Shutting down privilege abuse starts with a solid ZTS strategy based on NGA where every login attempt is verified before access is granted and anomalies trigger MFA and further user validation. Please click on the graphic to expand it for easier reading.
- 70.2% of all hacking attempts are based on stolen privileged access credentials (49.3%) combined with brute force to obtain credentials from POS terminals and controllers (20.9%). Hackers devise ingenious ways of stealing privileged access credentials, even resorting to hacking a POS terminal or controllers to get them. Healthcare insiders also steal credentials to gain access to mainframes, servers, databases and internal systems. Verizon’s findings below are supported by Accenture’s research showing that 18% of healthcare employees are willing to sell privileged access credentials and confidential data to unauthorized parties for as little as $500 to $1,000. Please click on the graphic to expand it for easier reading.
- Hospitals are most often targeted for breaches using privileged access credentials followed by ambulatory health care services, the latter of which is seen as the most penetrable business via hacking and brute force credential acquisition. Verizon compared breach incidents by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and found privileged credential misuse is flourishing in hospitals where inside and outside actors seek to access databases and web applications. Internal, external and partner actors are concentrating on hospitals due to the massive scale of sensitive data they can attain with stolen privileged access credentials and quickly sell them or profit from them through fraudulent means. Verizon also says a favorite hacking strategy is to use USB drives to exfiltrate proprietary information and sell it to health professionals intent on launching competing clinics and practices. Please click on the graphic to expand it for easier reading.
With the same intensity they invest in returning patients to health, healthcare providers need to strengthen their digital security, and Zero Trust Security is the best place to start. ZTS begins with Next-Gen Access by not trusting a single device, login attempt, or privileged access credential for every attack surface protected. Every device’s login attempt, resource request, and access credentials are verified through NGA, thwarting the rampant misuse and hacking based on comprised privileged access credentials. The bottom line is, it’s time for healthcare providers to get in better security shape by adopting a Zero Trust approach.