Today the internet has literally entered in every arena of life, be it games, entertainment, retail, real estate, and the list is endless. And today it is also commonly found in the Healthcare industry and it is taking it to new levels of success. However, apart from the advancement, we are moving today, there is something that needs urgent attention. As it is with any other industry, cyber-attacks are common even in healthcare and this puts a lot at risks, such as crucial patient information, bills, and a lot more. These are all sensitive information that needs to be protected but owing to these common cyber attacks, the healthcare industry today is vulnerable to security threats and it needs urgent attention from the healthcare organizations.

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It is needless to say that a lot can be at stake if the client’s information is lost, or stolen, and it can be lethal for the reputation. Due to this very reason, it is the responsibility of the healthcare entities to ensure and prove it that the technologies, devices, and methods adopted by them pose zero risks to the clients. It is integral on their part that they compile their security with the recognized standards & frameworks to cleverly deal with this situation.

In this article, we will be discussing in-depth about the healthcare security frameworks and how the organizations can integrate them to offer better and secure client services.

What is Cybersecurity framework?

To be precise, a Cybersecurity framework (CSF) is a guide, and it comprises of a series of documented processes useful in defining the policies and procedures around implementation & ongoing management of the information security controls in an enterprise environment. Basically, these frameworks are a blueprint that builds an information security program useful for managing risks and reduce the vulnerabilities. These frameworks can be utilized by the information security pros in order to define & prioritize tasks necessary for building security into the concerned organization.

Often the frameworks are customized so they can solve precise information security problems, same as building blueprints are customized so to meet the required usage and specifications. Some of the frameworks are even developed for specific industries, and different regulatory compliance goals. Now they even come in varying degrees of scale & complexity and there is a huge amount of overlap in these frameworks in concern of the general security concepts as each evolves.

It won’t be wrong to say that overall, these frameworks are roadmaps for security the IT systems. Their main goal remains to describe the current security situation, describe target security posture, assess the progress towards target posture, non-stopping improvement, and communication risk.

These frameworks mainly consist of three base components, which are:

The Core: This arrangement of cybersecurity activities & references is organized to get specific results. Its work is enabling communication of the cybersecurity risks around the organization.
Implementation tiers: It helps the associations defining how they view cybersecurity management. This helps finds the right level of thoroughness for security programs and enables in communicating cyber risks around an organization.
Profiles: These are an arrangement of the organizational goals & premises, and assets against framework core results. Profiles are responsible to align industry standards & best practices, they support prioritization, & measurement as per business requirements.


Which are the best Cybersecurity frameworks (CSF) that can be used in Healthcare?

In the year 2018, there was a ‘Cybersecurity Survey’ conducted by HIMSS with a motive to find out which of the healthcare cybersecurity frameworks are prominent in the medical arena. In this survey, five of the frameworks were listed as the best, and these are:

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  • COBIT CFS: Standing for Control Objectives for Information & Related Technologies (COBIT) framework, as developed by ISACA is an IT governance tool that enables the organizations to fill the gap between the control requirements and it further assists with the policy development. COBIT focuses on the effectiveness of the IT-sphere instead of the security of business affairs. However, there are lot many healthcare firms that use this framework to implement the practices that are provided by the other security standards, for instance, the NIST healthcare cybersecurity framework & ISO27001/2. As of now, healthcare providers, such as hospitals & the insurance firms are joining other entities (governments, private corporations, financial institutions), in the adoption of COBIT.


  • ISO 27000 Series: International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a non-governmental firm that develops standards for supporting world trade. ISO maintains the standards which are aimed to build and maintain an information security management system – ISO/IEC 27000. Healthcare organizations can implement this framework for coping with challenging and ever-evolving data security needs.

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  • Critical Security Controls: This framework is developed by the Centre for Internet Security and it lists practices intending to stop or prevent most common healthcare cyber-attacks. In the Critical Security Controls (CSC) all of the controls are listed as per their priority – it begins with most pivotal ones such as manage vulnerabilities, builds an asset inventory, etc. Even though CIS Controls have a major role to play in the security insurance, still it is not the stand-alone solution and mostly it is used with the other CFS, for instance, NIST.


  • HITRUST framework: HITRUST is ranked second and there is around 26.4 percent of the healthcare framework users claiming to follow guidelines that are created by the HITRUST (Health Information Trust Alliance). This private healthcare agency is led by the best of the specialists in the healthcare arena and they all work intending to make data security pivotal with their information systems. This way the cybersecurity frameworks (CSF) aims to meet the requirements of the institutions to provide specific guidance.


  • NIST Healthcare Framework: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework (CSF) holds great prominence in several industries and one of them is the healthcare sector. NIST is a USA-based company that creators countless tech standards and guidelines, it even includes data security.

NIST even maintains a few documents and the most prominent ones here are:

      • NIST Framework: It is to enhance critical infrastructure cybersecurity
      • NIST SP 800-53: Security & Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems & Organizations
      • NIST SP 800-171: It protects Controlled Unclassified Information in Non-federal Systems & Organizations

The cybersecurity frameworks created by NIST were based on threat modeling, collaboration, & intelligence. With its utilization, the medical institutions not only perform a necessary analysis of probable risks, but they even address the emerging threats & cooperates with the other entities.

How Cybersecurity Frameworks can make a difference in Healthcare?


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Information and data is a crucial part of any healthcare organization, and this is the reason that the healthcare providers and hospitals are required to take necessary actions to ensure data privacy and security. These organizations make constant efforts to apply suitable safeguards to secure pertinent and sensitive information within an organization, ensuring compliance as per state, industry & federal requirements.


What is further interesting is the fact that healthcare is a kind of industry where the inside cybersecurity threats are more hazardous as compared to the outside ones. And as per the Verison report (59 percent of internal as compared to the 42 percent of the external incidents), they are even more frequent. There can be various reasons for the same, but the most common remains ‘human error’. Often they may happen that the hospital employees abuse their access to the internal systems & the information they store. Like, often hospital staff might check what procedures are taken by the celebrities. This is why in the 6 percent of breach cases “just for fun” appears as the sole motivation.

Also Read: Importance of Assistive Technologies In Healthcare Industry

How CS frameworks in Healthcare help deal with these issues?

To start with, the cybersecurity framework is particularly applied to recognize, detect, respond, protect & recover from impacts of the security threats & their consequences. However, it is not a strict set of rules for the healthcare organizations, but mainly a guideline for the best practices of IT security. These guidelines are adopted by the healthcare institutions for enhancing the existing cybersecurity policies. Also, the NIST healthcare cybersecurity framework ensures the security with the usage of core elements implementation tiers, & a profile aligning them by the business requirements, risk tolerance, and financial capabilities. With CSF, the internal & external stakeholders get the opportunity to get an understanding and manage the cybersecurity together. This tool is helpful for healthcare organizations to align business & tech policies.

How Cybersecurity frameworks are implemented in Healthcare?

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Here we have discussed the entire process that goes in the implementation of cybersecurity framework:

  • Prioritize & Scope: The cybersecurity in healthcare starts by defining the main objectives & priorities of the organization. It is necessary to make strategic decisions for security and to find systems & tools supporting the selected process. CSF adoption begins with the development of a strategy to frame, assess, monitor, and respond to risks. In this manner, a healthcare organization is able to define how & where to use a framework and analyze the threats & impacts.


  • Orient: The next step is all about the healthcare organization figuring out all the resources that they have (like the technologies, tools, personnel, data, etc.) Here they even identify appropriate regulatory, look for authoritative sources such as security means, methods, standards, risk management guidelines, and much more. Once it is done, then the overall risk approach is calculated. Next, the weak points of the tools mean, and systems are defined.


  • Creation of a Target Profile: Once the hospital has defined its risk factors and created an overlay of the healthcare framework, next it is responsible for setting an overlay that prevents unique breaches or threats. Apart from that, the entities may even develop their own categories & subcategories for accounting unique risks. A Target Profile is created point out category & subcategory of outcomes that they work on from framework core.


  • Risk Calculation: This step is for the evaluation of the risk level of the information system. The entity is responsible to analyze the possibility of security breaches & consequences that it might trigger. It becomes crucial that the entity looks for the incorporation of emerging threats, vulnerabilities, and risks. This way they get a better understanding of possible outcomes of the security events. Here the estimation could be based on general risk management or past risk evaluations.


  • Creation of a Current Profile: The healthcare organizations create a comprehensive risk assessment and then they define the current status. The evaluation can be well conducted from both functional areas as well as independently across the healthcare organizations. The idea here is giving the entity a clear and in-depth understanding of the current cybersecurity risks in healthcare – that might be faced owing to the security breaches. Hence, it is where all of the vulnerabilities and threats should be recognized & properly documented.


  • Do Gap Analysis: Once the healthcare organizations know the risks & impacts brought in, they can then move towards Gap Analysis. The idea here is comparing actual scores with target ones. For instance, they can create heat maps that show results in a much clearer manner. With this approach, it gets easier highlighting areas to focus upon. Next is brainstorming, where the entities find out what they should be doing to fill the gaps between the current & target scores.

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  • Adopt an Action Plan: so once the healthcare organization has a clear picture of potential cybersecurity issues, available defensive means, a comprehensive gap analysis, target goals, and a list of necessary actions, then it can begin with the framework implementation. However, it just doesn’t end with the adoption of an action plan. It is essential for companies to organize & check the metrics for them to be aware of their efficiency, and to ensure that the CSF implemented by them is meeting the expectations of the organization. It is an ongoing procedure that is aimed to get maximum benefit and to further customize the framework so it well meets the business requirements.

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Once these steps have been implemented, you are all set with a Cybersecurity framework. You can get in touch with a software development company to get help in this regard.