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Hospitals Lack Proper Web Security Programs, HIMSS Analytics Reports

November 30, 2015
by Heather Landi
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While healthcare leaders under the risks to their data security, many still do not understand the best way to address these challenges, leaving hospitals and health centers vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, according to a survey by HIMSS Analytics.

The survey found that 39 percent of healthcare organizations do not have an on-premise Web Application Firewall installed to protect their data center, which is the most traditional line of defense against Web application attacks, according to the survey authors. And, additionally, 23 percent of survey respondents said they have no web security programs in place at all, and nearly half of those respondents are from hospitals with 200 beds or more.

The HIMSS Analytics survey, in partnership with Akamai, was designed to highlight the current state of web security in healthcare as well as what plans are in place to improve preparedness. Survey respondents were comprised of 94 healthcare IT executives, including CIOs, CSOs, directors of IT and technology, IT security officer and chief compliance officer.

The survey also found that only 42 percent of healthcare organizations have implemented Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection solutions, with only 13.2 percent planning to implement such a solution.

“This leaves 35 percent of healthcare organizations vulnerable to a type of cyberattack that is increasing in frequency and size across all industries, including healthcare, and is a significant threat to network availability,” the survey authors stated.

Additionally, only 21 percent of respondents say they have a cloud web application firewall (WAF), which, according to the authors, could help mitigate cybersecurity threats, and only 16.5 percent intend to implement one.

Respondents seem aware of their vulnerabilities, with 57 percent saying they “somewhat agree,” “agree,” or “strongly agree” with the statement, “Requirements for interoperability with entities and systems outside of my organization’s network is a security issue my organization faces.” And, despite the lack of protection, 61 percent of respondents said that they “agree” with the statement, “My organization is adequately protected against web application attacks.”

“Overall, the survey indicates a troubling reality relating to cybersecurity in healthcare: Since web-based attack methods become more pervasive as the healthcare industry becomes more connected, healthcare organizations need to increase their sense of urgency and their investment in implementing fundamental web security solutions,” the survey authors concluded.

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