Vulnerability Management in the Healthcare Industry

Cyber Risk

Previously, we’ve discussed how cyber vulnerabilities are among the top threats that affect organizations today, and we have also discussed how one of the most effective responses to those vulnerabilities is to embark on a maturity journey in establishing a vulnerability management program for the organization. Healthcare is among those organizations that need to be seriously thinking about mature vulnerability management — not only for cybersecurity, data protection, and compliance purposes, but also for the sake of each patient’s privacy, and, sometimes, their life.

What is Vulnerability Management and How Important is it to Healthcare?

Organizations should strive for a vulnerability management program to include the identification, classification, prioritization, remediation, and mitigation of software vulnerabilities across the organization.

By implementing mature vulnerability management programs with the right tools and expertise across the healthcare sector, providers will be better able to manage that risk and keep themselves, sensitive information, and other data, secure.

The Consequences of Poor Vulnerability Management in Healthcare

Healthcare institutions are often a target for threat actors because they are lucrative. Healthcare organizations have high volumes of sensitive patient information and they rely on highly vulnerable medical devices. Cyber criminals believe that healthcare organizations will be more apt to pay-up to their demands, otherwise they risk putting patients’ information — and even their life — in danger. Unfortunately, this exact scenario played out in September of 2020 at a German hospital, where a ransomware attack turned out to be fatal.

“The Duesseldorf hospital was unable to receive [the patient] as it was in the midst of dealing with a ransomware attack that hit its network and infected more than 30 internal servers.”

As a result, the patient needed to be transported to a different hospital that was about 30 km away from the intended destination and proper care could not be provided in time.

The costs associated with protecting patient data and medical devices with security solutions can be high, but IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report found that healthcare organizations suffered the highest costs of data breaches for the 11th consecutive year in 2021, with the average cost of a healthcare data breach surge at $9.23 million. Further, medical organizations have seen an increase of 185% in the number of health care data breaches this year compared with last year.

Tools and Risk Assessment for Mature Vulnerability Management

Dynamic and continuous vulnerability scanning, as discussed in our recent Ask the Expert video with Kirk Hogan and Allan Liska, is one tool we can use to “level-up” our vulnerability management programs. Another strategy discussed in more depth in the video includes running table-top exercises, such as penetration testing; and closing the loop on vulnerability management —  meaning that we find it, fix it, and confirm it when it comes to remediating vulnerabilities.

If your organization is looking to implement or mature a vulnerability management program, enlist the expertise of Iceberg’s practice experts to align the vulnerability management program to your organization’s strategic goals and maximize the investment of your program.

Start your GRC journey.
We’ll be your trusted partner.

Start your journey