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Navigating the HHS Cybersecurity Performance Goals

In today’s digital age, healthcare providers face unprecedented challenges in safeguarding sensitive patient information from cyber threats. With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks, the need for robust cybersecurity measures has never been more critical. Recognizing this urgency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has laid out comprehensive performance goals to enhance cybersecurity across the healthcare sector. 

What are the HHS Cyber Performance Goals 

The HHS Cyber Performance Goals serve as a roadmap for healthcare organizations to strengthen their cybersecurity posture and mitigate the risks associated with cyber threats. These goals encompass various domains, including risk management, threat detection, incident response, and workforce training. The HHS Cyber Performance Goals consist of two tiers: Essential and Enhanced. These tiers provide a structured approach for healthcare organizations to improve their cybersecurity capabilities gradually. 

Understanding the Essential Cyber Performance Goals 

  • Mitigate Known Vulnerabilities: Regularly identify and patch vulnerabilities in software and systems to mitigate the risk of exploitation by cyber attackers. 
  • Email Security: Implement robust email security measures to detect and prevent phishing attempts, malware, and other email-borne threats. 
  • Multifactor Authentication (MFA): Enhance authentication mechanisms by implementing MFA to require multiple forms of verification, such as passwords and biometrics, thereby reducing the risk of unauthorized access. 
  • Basic Cybersecurity Training: Provide comprehensive cybersecurity training to staff members to raise awareness of common threats, phishing scams, and best practices for protecting sensitive information. 
  • Strong Encryption: Utilize strong encryption protocols to protect data both in transit and at rest, ensuring confidentiality and integrity. 
  • Revoke Credentials for Departing Workforce Members: Immediately revoke access credentials for employees, contractors, affiliates, and volunteers upon their departure to prevent unauthorized access to systems and data. Click here to check out our Identity Management System solution for ways to automate this process and take the stress off your team.  
  • Basic Incident Planning and Preparedness: Develop and maintain basic incident response plans to ensure timely and effective responses to cybersecurity incidents, minimizing potential damages and disruptions. 
  • Unique Credentials: Require unique user credentials for accessing systems and applications to prevent credential sharing and unauthorized access. 
  • Separate User and Privileged Accounts: Implement segregation of duties by separating user accounts from privileged accounts, limiting access to sensitive functions and data. 
  • Vendor/Supplier Cybersecurity Requirements: Establish cybersecurity requirements for vendors and suppliers to ensure the security of third-party systems and services that interact with healthcare networks. 

Unpacking the Enhanced Cyber Performance Goals 

  • Asset Inventory: Maintain an accurate inventory of all digital assets, including hardware, software, and data, to effectively manage and secure the organization’s technology infrastructure. 
  • Third-Party Vulnerability Disclosure: Establish clear guidelines and processes for third-party vendors to report vulnerabilities in their products or services, enabling prompt remediation to mitigate potential risks. 
  • Third-Party Incident Reporting: Require third-party vendors to promptly report any cybersecurity incidents or breaches affecting their products or services, facilitating collaborative incident response efforts. 
  • Cybersecurity Testing: Conduct regular cybersecurity testing, including vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and red team exercises, to identify and address security weaknesses proactively. 
  • Cybersecurity Mitigation: Implement mitigation measures to address identified cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities effectively, reducing the likelihood and impact of potential breaches. 
  • Detect and Respond to Relevant Threats and Tactics: Develop capabilities to detect and respond to relevant cyber threats and adversary tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), ensuring timely and effective incident response. 
  • Network Segmentation: Segment network infrastructure to compartmentalize sensitive systems and data, limiting the lateral movement of attackers in the event of a breach and minimizing the scope of potential impacts. 
  • Centralized Log Collection: Aggregate and centralize logs from various systems and applications to facilitate comprehensive monitoring, analysis, and correlation of security events for early threat detection. 
  • Centralized Incident Planning and Preparedness: Establish centralized incident response plans and procedures to streamline coordination and communication during cybersecurity incidents, enabling swift and effective response efforts. 
  • Configuration Management: Implement robust configuration management practices to ensure the consistency, integrity, and security of IT systems and assets throughout their lifecycle. 

The Importance for Healthcare Organizations 

Adhering to the HHS Cyber Performance Goals is not just a regulatory requirement; it’s a fundamental aspect of delivering quality patient care. By prioritizing cybersecurity, healthcare organizations can: 

  • Safeguard patient confidentiality and privacy. 
  • Prevent data breaches and avoid potential legal and financial repercussions. 
  • Maintain the trust and confidence of patients, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies. 
  • Ensure the uninterrupted delivery of critical healthcare services. 

DAS Health’s Commitment to Cybersecurity 

As a leading provider of healthcare IT solutions, DAS Health is dedicated to helping healthcare organizations navigate the complex landscape of cybersecurity. We offer a comprehensive suite of cybersecurity services, including risk assessments, threat monitoring, incident response planning, and staff training. 

Our team of cybersecurity experts works closely with healthcare providers to develop customized strategies tailored to their unique needs and challenges. By leveraging the latest technologies and best practices, we empower organizations to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses and protect patient data from evolving threats.  

What Steps Should Your Organization Take Next? 

Compliance with the HHS Cyber Performance Goals is not just a regulatory obligation; it’s a strategic imperative for healthcare organizations looking to safeguard patient data and uphold the highest standards of care. By embracing these goals and implementing robust cybersecurity measures, healthcare providers can mitigate risks, enhance resilience, and ensure the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information. 

At DAS Health, we are committed to supporting healthcare organizations in their cybersecurity journey. Together, we can navigate the complexities of the digital landscape and build a safer, more secure future for healthcare delivery. 

Click here to get in touch with our experts for more information about our cybersecurity services and solutions and best next steps for your organization.