Perpetual Disruption Part 1: What is Good Cybersecurity Governance in Health Care?

Disruption means constant change. This brings benefits to businesses and can improve customer loyalty. But, the costs tend to be new and large security challenges. Which raises the question: What role does the chief information security officer (CISO) hold in this ongoing transformation?

In this series, we’ll look at perpetual disruption and its impact on cybersecurity governance in multiple industries. First, we’ll start with health care. 

‘Disruption:’ What Does the Buzzword Really Mean? 

What is disruptive technology, exactly? It’s superior new tech that replaces inferior old tech and changes how an enterprise or industry operates. Popularized by the 1997 book “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” the disruptive technology concept has long been a fact of life for businesses facing ongoing change. For example, look at the cloud, the Internet of things (IoT), virtual reality, augmented reality and blockchain. 

The appeal of disruptive technologies is that — by definition — they offer clearly improved ways of doing things. But it also means facing new openings for threat actors, which brings the CISO role into focus. 

What Good Cybersecurity Governance Looks Like 

Where should the impetus for adding disruptive tech come from? Should governance drive change and growth? In an age of attacks and regulatory compliance, the answer is yes. But it’s more complex than that. IT governance is mostly the job of the chief information officer (CIO). However, the potential openings for attackers disruptive tech and perpetual disruption create are so huge that it’s also a job for the CISO role. 

The default mode is to focus on the fraught connections between innovation and security — the idea that either innovation interferes with security or vice versa. It takes leadership to drive the idea that who interferes with whom is not important. Both are required for success — for business success, success in complying with rules and success in creating value for shareholders. It also affects customer loyalty. That’s why success demands leaders get on board with this idea, from the board of directors to the C-suite and, most critically, from the CIO and CISO. This is even more true in health care. 

Cybersecurity Governance of Saving Lives

Not long ago, health care’s biggest tech challenge seemed to be transferring paper patient records to computers. Today hospitals are moving to embrace video calls, remote surgery, AI, healthcare IoT (also called the internet of medical things) and 3D printing. 

As experts, we need to pay careful attention to the risks in health care IoT. As with other IoT, this sector is attended by uneven or missing updates from their makers, poor documentation and a lack of standards. In 2018, researchers showed the potential for attackers to remotely disable or control devices like insulin pumps and pacemakers. 

Another place where we need to balance invention and risk is in the cloud. Like many industries, health care is embracing cloud computing at scale. But what happens when health care data lives in the cloud? The health care sector faces the same rewards and risks as other industries. However, there is a unique privacy impact to patients if health care data is exposed.

CISOs Embracing Cybersecurity Governance

Innovative life-saving technology must work together with innovative security solutions. And that’s exactly why the CISO role is so central to disruption. Cybersecurity innovation needs to be baked in to all other changes. Call it change management cybersecurity or cybersecurity governance. Any way you slice it, the CISO role is central to the tech that is transforming medicine and health care. 

With the right tech and best practices, disruption doesn’t have to be disruptive when it comes to saving lives. 

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