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Healthcare organizations are increasingly using apps for telehealth and beyond. These apps have a significant impact on how they operate. They also have access to lots of sensitive information, such as EMR.

As a result, we have seen an uptick in healthcare application threats globally. The top threat risks in healthcare industry includes ransomware, DDoS and automated attacks. 

Healthcare data breaches are the costliest across the globe. They cost healthcare organizations USD 9.23 million on average. The figure is more than twice the pan-industry average of USD 4.24 million.  Managing AppSec risks is crucial to healthcare organizations.

Want to know how to achieve these goals? Read on to find out. 

How to Reduce Risks of Healthcare Application Threats? 

  • Ongoing Risk Assessments 

This is the first, most critical step in risk management in healthcare. It lays the foundation for a robust AppSec program. Risk assessments help you identify, analyze and rank your apps’ risks. 

Risk assessments involve the following: 

  • Identifying app vulnerabilities
  • Evaluating the exploitability of each vulnerability
  • Identifying application threats 
  • Analysing attack probability 
  • Analysing the potential impact of application threats on mission-critical assets 
  • Allocating resources based on the criticality of risks 
  • Defining ways to keep risks within tolerance levels

This way, you can ensure your mission-critical assets are always available and secure. 

Compliance frameworks like HIPAA mandate that these assessments be done once a year. But that isn’t enough. You need to keep assessing and managing risks regularly. Only then can you harden your app security posture. 

  •  Establish and Update Security Policies 

Clearly defined app security policies are critical to averting application threat risks. These policies should incorporate security, industry, legal and regulatory best practices. The AppSec policies should define security strategies, processes, tools, and procedures. They should define the following: 

  • Incident response and disaster recovery plans
  • Role-based, strict access controls
  • Zero trust authentication and password policies 
  • Backup and storage 
  • Data privacy and security policies 

AppSec should define processes for users to report suspicious activities. AppSec policies should include proper communication plans too.

Further, you must regularly update these security policies. The policies should reflect the latest best practices and the latest risk posture. 

  •  Identify and Secure Threat Entry Points 

How do application threats become successful attacks? Attackers keep looking for exploitable entry points. These entry points are vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and security gaps. They exploit entry points that aren’t secure when they find them. They can then 

  • Introduce malware
  • Create backdoors
  • Steal data
  • Make services unavailable to patients/ employees 

So, you need to be proactive in finding and securing entry points. And do so before attackers find them. To this end, you must put in place a vulnerability management program. 

Inventory all your healthcare app-related assets. This process should be automated. It should automatically identify all endpoints, APIs, components, third-party services, etc. Make sure to include all assets for crawling by your scanning and next-gen WAF tools. 

Deploy an automated scanner to keep identifying known flaws. This way, you can prevent the inaccuracies and inefficiencies of manual scanning. Perform pen-testing and security audits regularly to identify 

  • Unknown vulnerabilities
  • Logical flaws 
  • Zero-day application threats
  • Understand the exploitability of flaws
  • Strength of security defenses 

You can rank these flaws based on the level of risks involved. Then, you can remediate through permanent fixes or instant virtual patching. Leverage fully managed security solutions to manage your vulnerabilities better.

  • Centralized Visibility into Security Posture 

You must have real-time visibility into your app security posture. This will help you take immediate action to prevent application threats. 

  • Ensure Your Vendors Prioritize Security 

You may use several third-party apps, APIs, and services. It is key that you carefully vet vendors before onboarding services. Why? Your apps will be at risk if they don’t take security seriously. Make sure they take steps to monitor and avert application threats.  

You must also ensure vendors are compliant. To this end, you should keep monitoring and auditing them. 

  • Keep Educating All Users 

Human errors are top vulnerabilities enabling cyber attacks in healthcare. That is why continuous education of all users is a must. Users include patients/ customers, employees, and partners who use your apps. 

All users must know the app security dos and don’ts. They should know what to click and what not to. They must be able to make smart decisions. They must know whom to report to or what action to take when observing unusual activities. 

  • Invest in Reliable Security Solutions 

Invest in reliable, fully managed security solutions like AppTrana. AppTrana includes comprehensive security solutions backed by industry expertise in managing your healthcare security risks. 

The Way Forward Cyber-attacks on healthcare are becoming more lethal, complex, and severe. Take proactive action to minimize your application threat risk. 

Vinugayathri is a Senior content writer of Indusface. She has been an avid reader & writer in the tech domain since 2015. She has been a strategist and analyst of upcoming tech trends and their impact on the Cybersecurity, IoT, and AI landscape. She is a content marketer simplifying technical anomalies for aspiring Entrepreneurs.


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