Health Service Focus


Navigate your way to cyber resilience

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As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, Alan Calder, founder and executive chairman at IT Governance, looks at the urgent need for healthcare organisations to develop cyber resilience to protect patient data, manage data breaches and comply with new data protection legislation.

For the past year, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has been at the top of many organisations’ agendas, and since it came into effect in May, organisations have been waiting with bated breath for a precedent to be set for the consequences of non-compliance. This comes just as healthcare organisations face new compliance obligations in the DSP (Data Security and Protection) Toolkit and the NIS (Network and Information Systems) Regulations 2018.

With several high-profile breaches recently hitting the press and the devastating effect that poor information security practices can have on patients, now is the time for healthcare providers to critically evaluate their information security posture and look at the measures they have in place to mitigate a data breach. These two objectives can be achieved with an effective cyber resilience programme.

What is cyber resilience?

The goal of cyber resilience is to provide the best defence against cyber-attacks and ensure that your organisation can survive should a breach occur.

The first phase of a cyber resilience programme is to identify, assess and manage the risks associated with an organisation’s network and information systems, including those across the supply chain.

The next phase is to build a capacity around incident response and business continuity management. These response and recovery measures will help you take the necessary steps to minimise the impact of an attack.

Why is cyber resilience important to me and my organisation?

Healthcare organisations are an attractive target for cyber criminals. The wealth of data available and the perception that poor data protection practices are employed have made healthcare and health science the most breached industry globally, according to IT Governance’s list of data breaches in 2017.

Cyber resilience can help protect your organisation from becoming the next breach statistic and demonstrate to stakeholders that your organisation understands its responsibility for keeping information safe. An effective cyber resilience programme can also help organisations demonstrate compliance with regulations such as the GDPR and the NIS Regulations, and industry-specific frameworks such as the DSP Toolkit. Compliance with these is mandatory.

If I am cyber resilient, does that mean I can’t be breached?

In short, no. Cyber threats are always evolving, and even the best defences can’t always protect you from a previously unknown threat. However, a cyber resilience programme does help you implement the most appropriate security measures to reduce the risk of a breach.

If a breach does occur, it is important to take the right steps to limit the damage. Under the GDPR, organisations are required to report certain data breaches to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) within 72 hours of becoming aware, which involves several detailed steps. A cyber resilience programme can help you put breach reporting into the context of a broader response and recovery process, which further demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to reducing harm to data subjects. It can also help you ringfence mission-critical services that will help you maintain business as usual in the event of a cyber-attack.

What does cyber resilience cost?

A cyber resilience programme doesn’t have to be an expensive project. In reality, an effective programme can help you to prioritise and manage spending, and prevent duplicated work when addressing multiple challenges.

An effective cyber resilience programme should also help you to identify and fill security gaps, help to contain a breach more quickly and allow recovery to full function sooner, all of which reduce costs.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, so once you understand your position, you can choose the solution that fits your organisation.

Cyber resilience and compliance frameworks

The NIS Regulations came into effect on 10 May 2018 and aim to achieve a robust level of cyber resilience for OES’s (operators of essential services) and digital service providers in the UK. Most healthcare organisations are required to comply.

The DSP Toolkit superseded the IG (Information Governance) Toolkit as the standard for cyber and data security for healthcare organisations and their partners. All organisations that access the HSCN (Health and Social Care Network) must comply by 31 March 2019.

To help you meet the compliance demands facing healthcare, IT Governance has developed a series of free resources, including the ‘DSP Toolkit and NIS Regulations: The impact for healthcare organisations’ green paper. It identifies the scope and requirements of both compliance frameworks and discusses how organisations can plan and coordinate their compliance projects. Download now >>



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