HHS Cyber Initiative: How Mitigating Known Vulnerabilities Protects Your Healthcare Business

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced a new cyber initiative with specific goals for healthcare organizations, including doctors, billing companies, and medical SaaS providers. One of the core priorities highlighted is mitigating known vulnerabilities, aimed at reducing the risk of cyberattacks through readily exploitable weak points in your systems.

What does this mean for your business?

As a healthcare organization, you hold sensitive patient data. Protecting it from cyber threats is not just a regulatory requirement, it's a responsibility to your patients and your reputation. The HHS initiative emphasizes proactive measures to ensure your systems are not easily compromised by known vulnerabilities.

Understanding the HHS Goals

The initiative outlines seven key desired outcomes:

  • Identifying and documenting asset vulnerabilities: A comprehensive inventory of your systems and software, along with their known vulnerabilities, provides the necessary foundation for addressing them.
  • Developing and implementing a vulnerability management plan: This plan should define clear timelines, procedures, and responsible parties for patching or otherwise mitigating identified vulnerabilities.
  • Regular vulnerability scans: Proactive scanning helps identify new vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
  • Mitigating newly identified vulnerabilities: Patching vulnerable software, isolating systems, or implementing alternative controls should be promptly pursued for newly discovered weaknesses.
  • Establishing vulnerability disclosure and response processes: Open channels for internal and external vulnerability reporting (think security researchers or ethical hackers) allow for swift evaluation and response.
  • Prioritizing risk responses: Not all vulnerabilities require immediate attention. A risk-based approach helps you prioritize mitigation efforts based on the potential impact and exploitability of each vulnerability.
  • Managing remote access: Securely limiting and monitoring remote access points minimizes entry points for potential attackers.
HICP Practices and Targeted Threats

The initiative identifies vulnerability management and endpoint protection as key HICP practices for healthcare organizations. This underscores the importance of both preventing vulnerabilities from being exploited and protecting individual devices from malware and unauthorized access.

The initiative also focuses on mitigating several common threats in the healthcare sector:

  • Ransomware: Encrypting critical data for extortion.
  • Social engineering: Tricking employees into compromising security protocols.
  • Insider threats: Malicious activity from within the organization.
  • Attacks on network-connected devices: Exploiting vulnerabilities in medical equipment or connected devices.
Taking Action

While the HHS initiative emphasizes the importance of these measures, the onus falls on individual healthcare organizations to implement them. Consider these steps:

  • Review your current cybersecurity posture: Conduct a thorough assessment of your systems, software, and policies to identify existing vulnerabilities.
  • Develop a vulnerability management plan: Define clear procedures for identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating vulnerabilities.
  • Invest in appropriate tools and resources: Utilize vulnerability scanners, endpoint protection solutions, and security awareness training programs for your staff.
  • Stay informed: Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities relevant to the healthcare industry.

By proactively mitigating known vulnerabilities, you can significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks and protect your business, your patients, and your reputation. The HHS initiative provides a clear roadmap for achieving this goal. Taking action to safeguard your systems and data is no longer optional, it's essential for operating responsibly and securely in the healthcare landscape.

Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. By incorporating these measures into your existing practices and adapting your approach as needed, you can build a robust defense against cyber threats and ensure the continued success of your healthcare business.


Vector Choice is here to support and assist your business with the necessary HHS cyber initiatives.

For a limited time, we are providing free PEN Tests and Risk Assessments with a qualified information security manager. These tests will provide important information about your business' security posture.

What is a PEN Test?
A PEN Test is an 'authorized' attempt to gain 'unauthorized' access to a computer system or network. This quick, easy, and non-evasive test has a market value of $997.

What is a Risk Assessment?
A Risk Assessment is a process of identifying and assessing security vulnerabilities in a computer system or network. This assessment has a market value of $497.

If you are interested in exploring the details of your current security system, fill out the form here to schedule your free PEN Test from our Trusted team of security experts.

We can also do a full Penetration Test: Its primary goal is to discover vulnerabilities before real hackers can exploit them. PENETRATION Testing is REQUIRED for Compliance and Cyber Liability Insurance! These tests are precisely what cybersecurity insurers will look for when assessing your policy.