Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint //

Privacy

3/21/2019
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

What the Transition to Smart Cards Can Teach the US Healthcare Industry

Healthcare information security suffers from the inherent weakness of using passwords to guard information. Chip-based smart cards could change that.

Given the copious amounts of sensitive data coursing through the US healthcare system, strong information security remains a high-stakes requirement for all players in the industry. Among the most obvious problem areas, healthcare information security currently suffers from the inherent weakness of using passwords to guard information access. Passwords remain an easy attack vector because humans pick easy-to-remember — and therefore hackable — words or phrases.

However, hope is on the horizon. Technology vendors and organizations are collaborating toward making a password-less future. But meanwhile, industries that store and share personally identifiable information can activate multifactor authentication (MFA) to buttress password protection. Given the successful rollout of chip-based cards for US consumer payments in the past few years, this form factor might be the best candidate for implementing MFA in healthcare.

Chip-based "smart" cards have become ubiquitous in the US since the middle of 2015, when they were distributed by payments issuers to combat the spike in data breaches and the resulting credit card fraud. This transition has reduced fraud, proved the sector can self-regulate and adapt to new systems, and demonstrated that American consumers will incorporate this form factor into routine practice. With three years' evidence, it's time we apply the lessons learned from financial services' smart card implementation to secure access to medical records and other sensitive information of high interest to cybercriminals.

Reduce fraud: In the US healthcare sector, fraud, waste, and abuse are persistent problems. This begins with patient enrollment and continues with subsequent redundant information entry that is sometimes complicated by language barriers and improper patient identification. The adoption of a chip-based system for healthcare services provides an avenue to make things more efficient. For instance, a chip-based system would greatly improve the accuracy of data capture. In addition, the chip can ensure HIPAA compliance and increase the difficulty for medical identity theft to take place in a physical setting in which care is being provided. This will also lead to an accurate view of consumption.

Invite self-regulation: Financial services and healthcare are among the most regulated industries in the US, with a combination of governmental and self-regulating organizations (SROs). The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are examples of government regulators, while Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council are influential SROs. Healthcare, currently regulated primarily by government bodies, could accelerate stronger security practices by incorporating industry bodies that have a financial and ethical responsibility to protect access to sensitive information, including patient data, research results, and other proprietary information. Giving hospitals, insurance providers, and other medical players a stake in industry practices could speed implementation and result in a better outcome in the long run.

Change industry relationships: Like the tension between merchants and card providers in the payments industry, a similar tension exists in the US healthcare system. While employers and the government bear much of the costs, the actual "payment" is typically processed through insurance companies. Financial services implemented changes by reversing previous policies regarding how fraud liability was handled; under the new chip-card way of working, card issuers covered fraudulent charges in situations in which merchants had adopted point-of-sale technology that allowed chip-based cards to be used. Healthcare could similarly drive change by mandating providers integrate point-of-care terminals or otherwise looking for a parallel from the financial services industry. When insurers negotiate prices with healthcare providers, they could expedite payments for those using chip-based cards or add fees for those providers not implementing chip-based cards.

Change consumer habits: The way that hundreds of millions of US consumers relatively quickly adopted to the move to chip-based cards holds promise for the US healthcare industry. Moreover, many American consumers now understand that the chip provides a stronger level of both security and fraud prevention than previously existed. This prepares the way for the healthcare sector to adopt chip-based cards. As a way to implement stronger identity protection, portability, and tracking, the equivalent chip for our health data could become a reality via our insurance cards in a manner that moves patient data with greater veracity and velocity.

Chip-based cards hold the potential to solve many of the ongoing problems in the US healthcare sector, and consumers are already accustomed to using this technology as result of implementation in the payments industry. The time is right to bring smart chip cards into the healthcare security equation.

Related Content:

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Joram Borenstein, General Manager of Microsoft's Cybersecurity Solutions Group Joram Borenstein is the General Manager of Microsoft's Cybersecurity Solutions Group, holds CISSP and CISA certifications. He has been on the Advisory Board of numerous cybersecurity startups, ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Yenrab
50%
50%
Yenrab,
User Rank: Strategist
3/24/2019 | 9:12:13 AM
So NOW we think this is a good idea
If memory serves, was not Microsoft (not always security wizards) reccomending smart card usage back in 2000?  The Win2K training manuals for Server suggested using them that long ago.  Nice to see that their advice is finaly being heeded.
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Now this is the worst micromanagment I've seen.
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-17210
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in PrinterOn Central Print Services (CPS) through 4.1.4. The core components that create and launch a print job do not perform complete verification of the session cookie that is supplied to them. As a result, an attacker with guest/pseudo-guest level permissions can bypass t...
CVE-2019-12934
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in the wp-code-highlightjs plugin through 0.6.2 for WordPress. wp-admin/options-general.php?page=wp-code-highlight-js allows CSRF, as demonstrated by an XSS payload in the hljs_additional_css parameter.
CVE-2019-9229
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered on AudioCodes Mediant 500L-MSBR, 500-MBSR, M800B-MSBR and 800C-MSBR devices with firmware versions F7.20A to F7.20A.251. An internal interface exposed to the link-local address 169.254.254.253 allows attackers in the local network to access multiple quagga VTYs. Attackers can...
CVE-2019-12815
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
An arbitrary file copy vulnerability in mod_copy in ProFTPD up to 1.3.5b allows for remote code execution and information disclosure without authentication, a related issue to CVE-2015-3306.
CVE-2019-13569
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
A SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Icegram Email Subscribers & Newsletters plugin through 4.1.7 for WordPress. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary SQL commands on the affected system.