Why Healthcare Organizations Should “Never Trust, Always Verify”

Yes, remote work and digital transformation increase collaboration, but it also introduces higher risks for security breaches.

In 2020, every industry experienced a shift in how and where they work, and unfortunately, healthcare was no exception. Shifting to virtual support, overnight, ushered in a wave of rapidly deployed apps and remote access requirements many organizations just weren’t ready for.

Healthcare organizations often have multiple Active Directories, point-to-point integrations for provisioning, and separate access controls across numerous identity stores. When you’re protecting a distributed workforce that requires access to on-premises and cloud apps, complexity puts a burden on IT teams that are trying to stay ahead of evolving security threats.

And the stakes couldn’t be higher. A 2021 IBM research report found that healthcare not only has the highest average cost of a breach for the 11th year in a row, but the average cost actually increased by more than $1 million from the year before, due to remote work and digital transformation. Securing the perimeter and fostering remote work has never been more important. With the right security approach, organizations can achieve both—by adopting Zero Trust.

Zero Trust is on the rise

In today’s digital landscape, access to every clinical and business application starts with identity. To meet the access and usability demands of modern users — and avoid falling victim to a data breach or supply chain attack — organizations are moving towards a more robust and comprehensive security posture that’s centered around the Zero Trust principle of “never trust, always verify.” 

Zero Trust security as a framework is a strategic approach to minimizing uncertainty and enforcing least privileged access to IT resources and is essential to securing access in healthcare.

If you’re considering Zero Trust a priority, you’re not alone. Okta’s most recent State of Zero Trust Security report found: 

  • 30% of healthcare organizations now consider Zero Trust a top priority, compared to 17% before the pandemic. 
  • 54% plan to implement Zero Trust within the next 12 to 18 months, while 37% already have a plan in place.
  • 67% reported a moderate increase in budget for Zero Trust in the last 12 months.

The best starting point for this journey is to think about an identity-driven mindset that secures various user types regardless of their location, device, or network. And allows you to connect with your partner of choice, whether it’s your existing MFA, endpoint detection (EDR), network segmentation, or email protection solution.

Identity empowers modern healthcare

Modern identity and access management (IAM) provides a single control plane through which healthcare organizations can manage risk-based access to resources for all their employees, partners, contractors, and beyond. For example, Adaptive MFA grants access to users based on contextual access policies that differentiate between normal and suspicious behavior and identify low-risk or high-risk activity. This is crucial to blocking unauthorized access and preventing attackers from moving laterally through networks and systems and accessing apps that might contain protected health information (PHI), including Microsoft 365.

Building a security strategy around identity helps healthcare organizations fundamentally transform their defenses while maximizing user experiences: 

  • It reduces costs, minimizes reliance on legacy systems, and increases agility by connecting on-prem and cloud apps to a central control panel. 
  • It guarantees all users are authenticated and all devices are secure while ensuring only the right level of access is granted for the right amount of time. 

How Okta modernizes healthcare identity

Okta’s identity solutions deliver digital experiences that users enjoy and help organizations stay secure, striking the right balance between user experience, productivity, and security. Our easy-to-use authentication options are quick to adopt and remove the risk of misconfigurations and weak passwords. 

Discover how Okta helps healthcare providers modernize through a Zero Trust approach by checking out our identity solutions for healthcare providers.