Mitigating risks from healthcare 4.0 innovations with zero trust network access

Mitigating risks from healthcare 4.0 innovations with zero trust network access

5 min read

As data breaches become more severe in the Healthcare sector, organisations need to implement resilient security practices en masse. However, achieving that goal will prove impossible without a zero-trust strategy.  

Over the last decade, the healthcare data problem has become very tangible. On the one hand, data plays a critical role in the digital transformation of the healthcare industry. On the other hand, healthcare data is very valuable for attackers.  

This has led to a consistent increase in the number of cyberattacks in the healthcare sector, with attacks becoming more severe over time. For instance, 2023 saw nearly 725 breaches in the US alone (that were reported to the OCR), across which, the data of over 133 million users was compromised. While this may be concerning, it is not implausible as a single medical record can fetch up to $350 on the dark web.

This in no way implies that the healthcare industry should shy away from digitisation. This option may no longer be on the table in the boardroom, as digitisation can bring sizeable cost efficiencies and elevation in care delivery outcomes.  

So, how should the healthcare industry secure its new digital estate? An analysis of attack patterns reveals that zero trust may be the only way ahead for CISOs and CTOs of healthcare organisations. In this article, see how Accops HySecure can help make this outcome viable to healthcare organisations in a cost-effective fashion. 

Mapping the attack surface of the healthcare organisation 

The healthcare industry faces a very unique set of challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. Not only is the motive for data breaches different, but it is also the configuration of the typical healthcare organisation.  

Usually, healthcare organisations comprise a wide range of users, including doctors, nurses, back office personnel, contractors, vendors, and third parties like diagnostics experts and academics. When this organisational complexity is absorbed into a fragmented and dissonant digital ecosystem, mapping the attack surface and estimating the scope of damage against each risk becomes very difficult. In addition, regulations like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), and Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) further amplify the consequences of security incidents for healthcare organisations. 

Moreover, healthcare organisations are more vulnerable to insider threats, with 70% of all breaches linked to insider threats according to a 2024 report from Verizon. Most attackers carry out cyberattacks with a financial motive (98%), and 75% of all attacks result in the compromise of personal data.

A closer look at user behaviour reveals that the misdelivery ​of information (i.e., disclosing data to the wrong person) is the foremost cause of compromise. This reveals that restricting user behaviour and eliminating implicit trust in user identities is of paramount importance when formulating a security strategy for the modern healthcare organisation.  

Securing the Healthcare 4.0 organisation 

Combating this unique set of risk factors requires a thorough consideration of all the points of compromise – i.e., an exhaustive understanding of entry points in the organisation’s network. Here are some of the most important aspects to consider here: 

  1. Outdated legacy systems: While healthcare organisations have adopted cutting-edge technology in the operating room, their enterprise systems remain outdated. Such systems may not integrate effectively with contemporary security solutions. 
  2. Unsecured networks: A number of critical care-delivery devices, doctors, and administrative staff connect to wireless and wired networks within hospitals. Even if a single device with malware connects to the network, all the devices across the network get exposed, and potentially compromised – which makes it crucial to gate access to all networks with strong verification. 
  3. Poor password practices: Weak credentials can be easily compromised by attackers. When these credentials belong to doctors, nurses, or back office staff, their compromise can expose thousands of patient records. This makes it important to not only promote but also enforce strong password practices, and passwordless verification techniques across the organisation. 
  4. Fragmented data access: When data resides within a wide range of digital systems, it becomes difficult to apply uniform security practices and map all access patterns. Even a desktop computer in the finance office of a hospital can be accessed by attackers if it connects to the internet. The only way to curtail this risk is to centralise data access, and segment network traffic systematically. 
  5. User endpoint security: Lastly, doctors and staff personnel may connect to enterprise applications via their smartphones and other devices. In telemedicine, BYOD machines may also connect to the organisation’s network. It is necessary to facilitate secure access to these machines without incurring too much IT overhead. 

Implementing a zero-trust strategy with Accops HySecure 

Accops has closely followed the evolution of the cyber risk landscape in the healthcare sector. In response, our teams have devised turnkey solutions that make the outcomes of a zero-trust strategy attainable for healthcare organisations by deploying nimble solutions. In our portfolio, Accops HySecure stands out from other industry offerings, as it enables organisations to employ a zero-trust strategy without raising the complexity of their technology landscape. 

Here are some of the most important ways in which Accops HySecure can help healthcare organisations combat critical risks: 

  1. Secure remote access to healthcare applications 

HySecure can help deliver critical healthcare and other enterprise applications to on-prem and remote users on the company’s and personal (BYOD) endpoints. HySecure enables you to wrap applications and provide access to them with strong authentication techniques like MFA and biometrics.  

  1. Ensuring continuous endpoint compliance 

Implementing dynamic policy-based access (a key recommendation in the Zero Trust Maturity Model, or ​​​​ZTMM) requires adaptive authentication solutions. HySecure can continuously monitor endpoints for compliance with access policies, and trigger strong verification to ensure continuous device compliance.  

  1. Enabling endpoint monitoring to mitigate insider threats 

With HySecure, healthcare organisations can monitor all actions on endpoints and record each session to mitigate insider threats. This can help the healthcare sector mitigate the rising insider threat challenge that proves difficult to mitigate with security awareness programs alone. 

  1. Maintaining access audit trails 

Some regulators may require healthcare organisations to maintain access audit trails, including data on the device, its location, and resources accessed by it during a particular request. Accops HySecure can help organisations effortlessly maintain these audit trails to ensure compliance, and combat security incidents when they do occur. 

  1. Modernising network security 

Lastly, Accops HySecure is a Zero-Trust Network Gateway that can replace dated security approaches like VPNs and SSL tunnels for securing access to applications. With HySecure, healthcare organisations can modernise their security strategy without increasing complexity, and in a cost-effective fashion. 

Next steps 

In an environment where compromise of patient data can incur significant penalties, risk care delivery, and degrade reputation, healthcare organisations must treat cyber security as an urgent imperative on their strategic agenda. In this regard, a zero-trust strategy will prove quintessential to tackling the evolving threat landscape facing the sector today. 

Accops HySecure offers a nimble and modular approach to realising the outcomes of a zero-trust security strategy. Moreover, it is perfectly positioned to mitigate modern threats and attack dynamics that affect the healthcare sector today. Learn more about how HySecure can elevate security outcomes at your healthcare organisation by getting in touch today at