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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Meeting the network security challenge in the healthcare industry

10 December, 2013
Compliance, asset management and guest access are just three of the challenges facing security managers responsible for the sprawling IT network characteristic of the healthcare industry

By Jonathan Newell

Despite the huge headaches faced by security managers responsible for networks in the healthcare sector, the secure and reliable operation of those networks is something that end users of health services would be extremely grateful for if it was something they had any awareness of. It's that lack of awareness that makes the network manager successful.

The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.... lost patient data, unresponsive systems, lost assets or even critical equipment failure. Any of these could occur due to network security issues and so the healthcare regulatory bodies make it their business to make sure they don't happen, hence the cause of the Security Managers' headaches.

One technology for overcoming this is Network Access Control (NAC) and network security specialist ForeScout's Systems Engineer, Toni Buhrke has written a piece on her blog specifically on the benefits of NAC technology for the healthcare sector. In it, she describes how the technology can be used for managing patient, guest and staff access to network resources across wide networks covering thousands of endpoints, how to stay compliant with the regulatory bodies and how to keep track of network-connected assets including medical devices, something not traditionally seen as an IT "asset" but which are increasingly becoming part of the healthcare environment's IT footprint.

Toni further explains in another blog post about how ForeScout's CounterACT product is being used in a US Midwest healthcare organization to keep track of network connected assets and manage the access of up to 100,000 endpoints including medical devices spread across hundreds of locations.

Jonathan Newell is a broadcast and technical journalist specialising in security systems and transport safety. He contributes to a range of titles in the technical press. He shares his time between the UK and Kazakhstan

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