The Technical Explainer: Tokenization Protects Your Healthcare Data from Ransomware

By Albert McKeon
Posted on:
August 10, 2021
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How Strong Is Your Healthcare Organization’s Ransomware Defenses?

If you’re relying on employee training and disaster recovery (DR) to combat ransomware, it’s not enough. The good news? You should still pursue those initiatives and add a third: the protection of sensitive data, no matter where it travels. Your healthcare organization needs to stay resilient in the face of increasing ransomware attacks. Your data needs to be unreadable and worthless should it be stolen by cybercriminals. It’s all about selecting the right data-protection platform. When your healthcare organization can detect and organize sensitive data across the enterprise with transparency and clarity, it can choose data-protection methods and policies that best fit how you use the data. Indeed, the central administration of classification and discovery gives you the necessary visibility of the many different types of sensitive data that reside in your many different on-premises and cloud-based EHR systems and medical applications—so that authorized frontline healthcare workers can freely use data to improve patient care.

Phishing Training Catches Most but Not All Ransomware Attacks

One out of every three employees who aren’t trained about the signs and dangers of phishing will (surprise!) fall for these tricks, according to the phishing training company KnowBe4. Yet, after a year of consistent training, an organization’s “phish-prone percentage” falls to under five percent. Just as law enforcement must be successful every time while a bad guy needs to succeed just once, the same holds true for your organization and cybercriminals. Phishing is widely considered the top method for introducing ransomware into an organization. All it takes is one employee to be deceived by what looks like a legitimate request from a physician seeking access to a digital application where a treasure trove of PHI awaits. Enhance your phishing training by testing groups of employees—and not individuals—as well as gamifying and rewarding positive results.

Practice Makes Perfect in Strengthening Disaster Recovery 

If your sensitive data is frozen by ransomware, DR will let you rebuild what’s lost. The ability to quickly recoup data shortens downtime, and lessens financial loss, employee productivity, and patient dissatisfaction. But as Gartner reminds, successful DR isn’t as simple as pushing a button. Because of the complexity of IT, DR is challenging, especially when organizations fail to conduct mock exercises or review their recovery strategies. To strengthen your DR, Gartner recommends consistent DR exercises that include specific tests for data loss, close reviews of recovery strategies, and desktop exercise simulations. 

Include Ransomware Training Alongside DR Exercises

Protegrity urges you to take another step toward improving DR: include ransomware training in exercises. All employees, not just decision-makers, can relate to tabletop exercises that mock ransomware attacks on commonly used applications and systems, such as CRM, a crown jewel that contains the names, addresses, and financial information of patients and clients. When employees see how they can help stop ransomware on everyday tools, you’ll have made a deep impression on the importance of safeguarding data and leaving DR as a tool of last resort. 

Encrypt Data and Pack a Strong 1-2-3 Punch Against Ransomware

Phishing training and DR indeed help in the fight against ransomware, but they are only tactics and tools. Your healthcare organization also needs to focus on outcomes. Tokenization not only encrypts and safeguards sensitive data no matter where it travels, but it also lets you focus on outcomes, particularly preventing the long-tail costs caused by ransomware and the existential threat it poses to patient care and business. When your data-security program is clicking on all three cylinders—phishing prevention, disaster recovery, and data protection—your sensitive healthcare data goes to work for patients, not cybercriminals.   

Protegrity Protects Data While You Focus on Healthcare 

Protegrity protects the data of four of the top private insurers in the U.S. by tokenizing their data and automating the enforcement of access privileges, ensuring that only authorized users—as defined by role, system, or type of use—have access to data in the clear, while others have only partial access. With constant audit logging, reporting, and SEIM integration, our Data Protection Platform monitors sensitive data used in cloud environments and automatically builds regulatory compliance reports in hybrid cloud environments. Our platform has been performance-tuned over decades to be embedded in our customers’ most important databases and systems, including transactional and analytical production systems. Data protection doesn’t have to come at the cost of decreased productivity or delayed business operations. Data encryption that’s aligned with consistent and comprehensive employee training and DR minimizes the fallout from ransomware.

Cybercriminals Now Rely on Double-extortion Methods

There’s no better time to intensify your data-protection efforts than now. Cybercriminals no longer resort to encrypting files to carry out ransomware. As Darktrace explains, they now commit double-extortion: stealing the data first and leaking it online or selling it to the highest bidder if you refuse to pay the ransom. This heightened threat comes as 81 percent of businesses are concerned about the risk of ransomware, according to CyberReason, even though nearly three-quarters of these organizations have a plan to manage an attack. 

See How It All Works; Protect Your Data Now

Learn more about why you should protect your healthcare data from ransomware with this Business Explainer. You can also schedule, today, a demonstration and take a deep technical dive of the Protegrity Data Protection Platform to see firsthand how you can propel your healthcare initiatives with encrypted data. Please visit our website to get a demonstration of our platform.

Data made worthless in the wrong hands and brought to life in yours.










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