How critical access management protects three industries from cyber threats

Despite large financial and time-intensive investments into access management tools and cybersecurity solutions, a business’ critical assets still remain vulnerable and prone to attack. For three major industries, healthcare, government, and critical infrastructure, the threats are mounting and the consequences of a hack can be dire. Just take a look at the numbers:

  • 51% of breaches are from a third-party data breach.
  • 60% of attacks involve lateral movement within the network.
  • 40% of breaches originate with authorized users.

But, there are ways these industries can better protect themselves from cyber attacks. Critical access management, or the securing of an organization’s critical access points through proven strategies and best practices, is the best way any organization—especially large ones in important industries—can thwart growing cyber threats. Here’s how critical access management can help healthcare, government, and critical infrastructure organizations.

How critical access management helps healthcare institutions

Healthcare organizations face many cyber risks and have several factors that make them major targets for cyber criminals. Those factors include the wealth of information (and value) held in electronic medical records (EMR) and the open-ended access hospital staff members need to treat patients and run hospital operations. Access monitoring, then, is the key to keeping that access open while protecting those critical assets (from both a security and HIPAA perspective). Access monitoring, which consists of proactive and reactive observation as well as reactive analysis, can help an organization better understand who is accessing what, and if there are any irregularities or suspicious activities within that access. Both those techniques will help protect crucial EMRs, while making sure internal and external users are able to access assets they need for (often) life and death situations. This method also ensures that authorized users, those that unfortunately are responsible for a lot of breaches (often called insider threats), aren’t accidentally or intentionally wreaking havoc on a system.

How critical access management helps government entities

Government entities remain a major target not only because of the valuable assets within their systems, but because of the vast third-party connections a single entity could have — one of the most vulnerable attack points. You can’t trust who you don’t know, and third parties are opaque and not part of an organization’s internal HR system. A single third party may have remote access to many aspects of an organization, so if they are hacked, and the access point into your organization is insecure, it’s a recipe for disaster. The vast third-party connections a single government organization has operates as a technology supply chain. As soon as a hacker gets in, the possibilities are limitless. As headlines show, hackers are getting smarter, and government entities, like any organization, are more at risk. All three pillars of critical access management can help complex government entities stay safe. Just protecting the network parameter is no longer an option, especially with lateral movement being shown as a key factor in hacks. Each pillar—from building a robust access policy with access governance (including a separate access policy for remote access) to setting fine-grained access controls to monitoring access from external users will all help keep governments safe from attacks. For example, the Solarwinds hack, which affected 18,000 customers—many of those government entities—came from a stolen password for a VPN connection that was not properly decommissioned. Critical access management techniques, like user access reviews, would’ve decommissioned the VPN once the user left the organization, and Zero Trust network access could’ve prevented lateral movement (or any movement at all) in the event of a hack.

How critical access management helps critical infrastructure organizations

Critical Infrastructure, similar to government entities, contain a swath of third-party connections with very real-world consequences if a hack takes place. The Colonial Pipeline hack not only cost millions, but it led to gas shortages and other industrial issues across the Southeast of the US. The Norsk Hydro hack which originated with an employee opening a phishing email, cost the company over $70 million. Critical access management, every aspect of it, is designed around securing those access points, especially the ones accessible by third parties. Every part of critical access management plays a role in keeping those critical infrastructure organizations protected. Take access governance for example. By creating a robust access policy, and making sure that each aspect of that policy — from role-based access control to granular user access to periodic access audits — not only makes sure that control is tightly controlled, but gives a government entity better visibility into who is accessing what. In addition, setting up access controls for third parties prevent lateral movement and give critical infrastructure organizations more control over who can access critical assets at what time. No matter the industry an organization is a part of, protecting critical access points is the future of cybersecurity and the best line of defense against an ever-changing landscape of cyber threats. Learn more about critical access management and how Imprivata offers industry-specific solutions.