Word from the C-suite: Preventing cybersecurity attacks goes beyond the first step in the 'kill chain'

With hospitals and health systems facing an increasing number of cybersecurity threats in recent years, it's important for executives to determine the best way to fight those threats before they damage the institution or its relationships with consumers.

Frank Nydam, vice president and chief technology officer of healthcare at VMWare, spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about how a hospital or health system can begin to protect itself from a cybersecurity attack. Protecting an institution from a cybersecurity threat goes beyond the first step in the "cyber kill chain"  of protecting the perimeter of the hospital's network. The cyber kill chain refers to the various stages of a cyber attacks that may occur with a security breach. Executives must employ layers of technology to protect the digital side of the business, the part that leaves patients and staff vulnerable to identity theft and other threats.

"Seventy to 80 percent of [a healthcare institution's resources] are spent protecting the perimeter of the hospital's network … a good analogy would be staying healthy. To stay healthy, you wash your hands, have good hygiene and take care of yourself. But eventually you're going to get sick and it's the same idea here  —  the bad guys will get through that perimeter. So what do you do once they get through? There's two ways of getting out of it: There's bed rest and eventually letting it work out, [neither of] which [are] the best ways to beat an illness. The other side of it is to get immunized, enabling your system to take action and to protect vital organs — or in our case applications and data … Somebody's going to get in, but it's our job to make sure we're protecting the crown jewels: the hospitals, the patient data, the medical devices connected to patients … to protect yourself, you have to make it economically infeasible for hackers to get through the internal and external barriers so that they are dissuaded from trying to get in at all."

If you would like to contribute a quote for this series, please email Alyssa Rege at arege@beckershealthcare.com to be featured in "Word from the C-suite."

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