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What Is ZTNA And Why Is It Relevant For Healthcare Virtual Assistant Providers?

  • 30 Jan 2024

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Did you know that since the start of 2023, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has recorded 327 reported data breaches? This represents a 104% surge from the 160 breaches documented by mid-2022.

Cyber criminals find the healthcare industry the most lucrative due to the high value of medical information in illegal markets. As per Trustwave's findings, a healthcare data record can fetch up to $250 per record on the black market, significantly surpassing the value of the next highest record, a payment card, priced at $5.40.

The growing demand for efficient and cost-effective healthcare services is driving the rise of medical virtual assistants. With a valuation of USD 387.01 million in 2022, the worldwide Healthcare Virtual Assistants market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 19.03%, potentially reaching USD 1100.95 million by 2028. This surge is expected to lead to an increase in cyberattacks in parallel which makes the implementation of robust security measures like ZTNA, even more crucial in healthcare.

What is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?

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ZTNA is a comprehensive security solution that enables secure access to private applications from any remote location and device. By enforcing adaptive and context-aware policies, it grants "least privilege" access to specific applications based on user identity, device identity, and other contextual factors.

This approach significantly reduces the attack surface and prevents lateral movement of threats within the network. ZTNA also plays a pivotal role in supporting the access needs of the distributed workforce, transforming the traditional security perimeter into a more dynamic, cloud-driven edge.

How Does ZTNA Work?

A connector software within the customer network connects to the cloud-hosted service through an encrypted tunnel, responsible for user authentication, device security checks, and controlled access to specific applications. With outbound connections to the ZTNA service, organizations avoid the need to open inbound firewall ports, ensuring protection from online threats. ZTNA supports managed and unmanaged devices, utilizing client-based installations for managed devices and a browser-initiated session for unmanaged ones. While client-based ZTNA facilitates comprehensive device information sharing, clientless approaches are limited to certain application protocols supported by web browsers, such as RDP, SSH, VNC, and HTTP.

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Why Are Traditional VPNs Not Enough For Safeguarding HVAs Anymore?

While VPNs have traditionally been the standard for secure network connections, their efficacy is now limited in today's complex cybersecurity landscape. This calls for the implementation of more robust security measures such as Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). Traditional VPNs may not suffice to adequately protect the network for healthcare virtual assistance providing businesses due to specific limitations:

Limited Access Controls:

Healthcare regulations, particularly those governing PHI and PII, demand stringent access controls. Traditional VPNs often lack the ability to implement granular access policies that align with these regulations. This deficiency increases the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive patient information, potentially leading to severe legal and financial consequences for healthcare organizations.

Inflexible Network Perimeters:

The rigid boundaries set by traditional VPNs do not accommodate the dynamic nature of healthcare environments. As a result, they fail to adapt to evolving threats and fail to provide comprehensive visibility and control over network traffic. This inflexibility can be exploited by sophisticated cyber threats, leaving critical patient data susceptible to breaches and compromises.

Inadequate Device Security Assurance:

Traditional VPNs generally lack robust mechanisms to ensure the security posture of devices seeking access to healthcare networks. Without comprehensive device posture checks, healthcare systems are at risk of unauthorized entry by malicious actors who can exploit vulnerabilities in inadequately protected devices, leading to potential data breaches and compromising patient confidentiality.

Insufficient Segmentation Capabilities:

Micro-segmentation is a vital strategy for maintaining data integrity and security within healthcare environments. Traditional VPNs often lack the necessary capabilities for effective micro-segmentation, leaving the overall network vulnerable to lateral movement by threat actors. This limitation could result in the unauthorized exposure of sensitive data and non-compliance with stringent healthcare industry regulations, leading to severe penalties and reputational damage for healthcare organizations.

Key Benefits of ZTNA Adoption for HVA Providerscover 4 (9)

 

HVA staffing agencies are pivotal in enabling the integration of virtual assistants within their clients’ systems. Ensuring network security and global regulatory compliances pertaining to the protection of all Electronic Medical Records (EMR) makes a huge part of their responsibilities.

HIPAA - the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires the implementation of safeguards to protect the integrity of electronic protected health information (ePHI) and ensures compliance through strict privacy and security standards. Zero Trust Network Access is equipped with the precision and sophistication needed to meet these safety requirements.

Enhanced Data Protection:

ZTNA's access-linked data protection secures sensitive healthcare information, regardless of the hosting medium. This minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and ensures compliance with HIPAA regulations. It is also particularly crucial for securing patient data, especially in the context of remote work among healthcare virtual assistants (HVAs) who work remotely from various devices.

Segmentation of Workloads:

ZTNA enables precise workload segmentation by controlling access to specific network segments. This means that each workload remains isolated and accessible only to authorized users. It also allows for restricted access to specific applications, minimizing lateral movement risks and preventing unauthorized data access. Consequently, this helps in strengthening data security and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Rigorous User Identification:

Multi-step user identification protocols ensure that every user accessing the network is verified and granted permission at each access point, significantly enhancing network security.

Improved Network Visibility:

ZTNA facilitates comprehensive network visibility by enabling precise identification of all devices on the network, empowering administrators to monitor activities more effectively and identify any suspicious behavior promptly.

Simplified Compliance Management:

By implementing user-centric access controls and robust security protocols, ZTNA enables healthcare organizations to manage compliance more efficiently and effectively, ensuring the security of sensitive patient data in line with HIPAA regulations.

Secure Remote Access For HVAs With PureDome

Secure remote access is critical for ensuring streamlined operations and the protection of sensitive data. PureDome's innovative static IP solution is fortified with cutting-edge encryption protocols, enabling seamless and secure global data transmissions without the hassle of frequent ISP engagements. It enables you to onboard HVAs with ease, while staying HIPAA compliant.

Gateways:

PureDome's gateways centralize control over Virtual Assistants (VAs) by streamlining access management. It encourages secure PHI transmission by whitelisting IPs and maintaining VPN connections for remote workers, enhancing data access control and encryption capabilities.

Device Posture Check (DPC):

Implement robust DPC policies to enforce compliance standards across all devices used for HVA system access. Proactively block compromised devices, ensuring secure remote access and safeguarding the integrity of your network.

Identity Provider (IdP) Integration:

Streamline the onboarding process of VAs with the IdP Integration module (Okta and Azure), enabling centralized identity management and reinforcing VPN login security. Maintain precise control over access permissions for seamless and secure network access.

Reporting:

Effortlessly monitor and track HVA access to specific gateways, ensuring adherence to HIPAA regulations. Maintain comprehensive records of system activities and access events, facilitating accurate reporting for compliance, security analysis, and performance optimization.

Teams and Admin Panel:

Leverage PureDome's team formation capabilities to integrate HVAs from diverse companies and foster cross-functional synergy within your administrative panel. Enhance operational efficiency and collaboration across your healthcare network for improved productivity and streamlined workflows.

HelloRache's Success with PureDome

HelloRache, a top virtual healthcare provider in the US, uses PureDome to secure data and ensure seamless global connectivity. With our products, they have improved network security cost-effectively, highlighting its reliability in delivering secure VPN services for virtual healthcare. Read more about this use case here.

Final Verdict

ZTNA is crucial for safeguarding networks, particularly where remote and virtual healthcare assistance is involved. Given the rising cyber threats and data breaches, ZTNA ensures robust data protection and secure management of global and remote HVA teams. By enhancing user identification, network visibility, and security analysis, it serves as the foundation of a comprehensive security strategy, reinforcing the protection of sensitive patient data and bolstering healthcare operations in the digital era.

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