The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced a new cybersecurity initiative outlining specific goals for healthcare organizations. One of the most crucial aspects of this initiative focuses on email security, emphasizing the need to reduce risks from common email-based threats like spoofing, phishing, and fraud.
As a healthcare business owner,
understanding these goals and their implications is critical to ensuring the
security of your patients' data and safeguarding your business against costly
cyberattacks. Let's delve into the essential email security goals outlined by
the HHS and explore their impact on your operations.
Implement Protections Against Data Leaks
The HHS initiative emphasizes the
importance of implementing robust email security systems that prevent
unauthorized access to sensitive patient information. This includes measures
- Email encryption: Encrypting
emails in transit and at rest protects data even if intercepted during
delivery or stored on compromised servers.
- Data loss prevention
(DLP): DLP technology monitors and restricts the transfer of sensitive
information via email, preventing accidental or malicious leaks.
- Email filtering: Employing advanced email filtering solutions that identify and quarantine suspicious emails, including phishing attempts and malware-laden messages.
Authenticate Users, Devices, and Assets
The initiative also calls for
implementing strong authentication protocols to verify the identity of users,
devices, and other assets accessing your email system. This involves:
authentication (MFA): Implementing MFA for email access adds an extra
layer of security beyond passwords, requiring additional factors like a
code from a phone or fingerprint scan for login.
authentication: Implementing policies and technologies to authenticate authorized
devices accessing your email system, preventing unauthorized access from
personal or compromised devices.
- Identity and access management (IAM): Establishing clear roles and permissions for users within your email system, ensuring only authorized personnel have access to sensitive information.
Protect Communications and Control Networks
The HHS initiative highlights the need
to secure the underlying infrastructure supporting your email system. This
- Network segmentation: Segmenting
your network to isolate critical email servers and data from other
systems, minimizing the impact of a potential breach.
- Regular patching and
updates: Ensuring all email software and related systems are updated
regularly with the latest security patches to address vulnerabilities
exploited by attackers.
- Security monitoring and incident response: Implementing robust monitoring systems to detect suspicious activity and a well-defined incident response plan to effectively mitigate any security breaches.
HICP Practices and Expected Outcomes
The HHS initiative recommends adopting
Health Information Communication Technology (HICP) practices specifically
designed for healthcare email security. These practices aim to mitigate threats
like ransomware and phishing attacks through email protection systems. By
implementing these practices, healthcare businesses can expect to achieve the
desired outcomes outlined by the HHS, including:
- Reduced risk of data
breaches and unauthorized access to patient information.
- Enhanced user and
device security, minimizing the potential for compromised accounts.
- Improved network security and resilience against cyberattacks.