The rise in cyber threats coupled with the complexity of healthcare IT infrastructure calls for a proactive approach to cybersecurity in healthcare. Many organizations are turning to Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) to establish and maintain a continuous Healthcare Security Operations Center (SOC).

Let’s delve into why and how an MSSP-driven cybersecurity SOC is vital for safeguarding patient data and ensuring uninterrupted healthcare services.

What does a Security Operations Center do?

Within a SOC, a team of cybersecurity experts manage and monitor a suite of security solutions to identify and respond to threats. By incorporating these elements into its operations, a SOC enhances the Defense in Depth strategy, creating multiple layers of security that work together to protect the organization from a wide range of threats. 

This comprehensive approach ensures that even if one layer of defense is breached, additional layers remain in place to detect, mitigate, and respond to the threat effectively. 

These cybersecurity solutions allow healthcare organizations to constantly monitor and mitigate risk while educating employees on new threats.

While the specific toolset varies based on an organization’s needs, you can expect a few key technologies, including: 

  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Connected medical device security
  • Managed phishing
  • Endpoint detection and response
  • Dark web monitoring

Let’s take a look at each of these in greater detail.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) 

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems are powerful tools that aggregate and analyze security data from various sources across an organization’s IT environment. 

They work by collecting and analyzing data from multiple sources within a healthcare organization, including network devices, servers, applications, and endpoints. This provides a centralized view of security events, correlating them with events and logs to help teams identify and respond to a wide range of security incidents and potential threats.

By storing logs from the many deployed technologies into a central location allows access to detailed information and real-time alerts that a team of trusted cybersecurity professionals can then monitor and provides actionable remediation guidance.

Key benefits of SIEMs: 

  • Real-time threat detection and response 
  • Comprehensive visibility
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Enhanced incident response 
  • Proactive threat management 

Connected medical device security

The security of connected medical devices, often referred to as Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) security, is crucial for protecting patient safety, ensuring data privacy, and maintaining the integrity of healthcare systems. 

A connected medical device and IoT security program assesses existing security practices, identifies security shortcomings, and puts necessary protocols in place to minimize the risk of these devices. 

A team of healthcare cybersecurity professionals should start by identifying each IoT/IoMT device in your organization’s network, ensuring that they are fitted with proper security controls and follow the organization’s standards. 

IoMT devices have become critical in providing effective patient care and achieving desired patient outcomes. If they aren’t sufficiently protected, patients’ lives can be put at risk. By proactively managing threats and vulnerabilities, healthcare organizations can ensure the reliable and safe use of medical devices, ultimately supporting better healthcare delivery and innovation.

Key benefits of IoMT: 

  • Patient safety
  • Data privacy 
  • Operational reliability
  • Regulatory compliance 
  • Trust and reputation

Managed phishing 

Phishing is one of the top methods cybercriminals use to gain access to healthcare networks and data, yet over one-third of health IT employees never perform simulated phishing tests. 

Coupled with a lack of employee training, this risk leaves healthcare organizations vulnerable.

Fortunately, SOC services like managed phishing and employee education can help organizations gain awareness and take this threat seriously. 

During controlled organized phishing simulation, employees learn to spot and report phishing emails, strengthening the organization’s cybersecurity posture.

Key benefits of managed phishing: 

  • Increased employee awareness 
  • Risk reduction
  • Behavioral insights 
  • Compliance support 
  • Proactive defense 

Endpoint detection and response 

Effective (EDR) involves identifying sophisticated attacks, tracking their movements, and remediating security threats. 

EDR enhances an organization’s cybersecurity posture by providing advanced threat detection, rapid incident response, comprehensive visibility, proactive threat hunting, detailed forensics, and reduced dwell time. 

These capabilities also provide detailed logs and records of endpoint activities, which are crucial for forensic analysis and understanding the attack vector and impact, and helping organizations protect their endpoints from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. 

EDR systems are designed to detect a wide range of suspicious activities and security threats on endpoints. Cybersecurity professionals can then track the data on a live dashboard and address security issues quickly. For example, this process might involve identifying: 

  • File-based malware 
  • Fileless malware 
  • Ransomware 
  • Unusual process execution 
  • Process injection 
  • Credential dumping
  • Lateral movement 
  • Privilege escalation 
  • Persistence mechanisms 
  • Multi-staged attacks 

In order for all the tools, processes, and people to work together, having a team of healthcare cybersecurity professionals leading the way is vital. 

This proactive approach allows organizations to identify and respond to threats quickly, minimizing potential damage and enhancing overall security posture. 

Through these services, you can identify and control risks to stay ahead of cyberattacks. 

Key benefits of EDR: 

  • Real-time threat detection 
  • Rapid incident response 
  • Advanced threat hunting 
  • Comprehensive visibility 
  • Automated remediation 

Dark web monitoring 

Dark web monitoring is a critical cybersecurity practice involving the continuous surveillance of dark web forums, marketplaces, and other hidden services to identify and mitigate potential threats to an organization. 

By actively monitoring the dark web, security teams can detect compromised data, such as stolen credentials, personal information, intellectual property, and confidential business documents that may be for sale or exposed. 

This proactive approach allows organizations to respond swiftly to data breaches, inform affected individuals, and take necessary actions to prevent further exploitation. 

Additionally, dark web monitoring helps identify emerging threat trends, enabling organizations to bolster their security posture and stay ahead of cybercriminal activities. 

Overall, dark web monitoring is essential for comprehensive threat intelligence and maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information.

Key benefits of dark web monitoring: 

  • Early threat detection 
  • Proactive risk management 
  • Enhanced fraud protection 
  • Brand protection 
  • Incident response support 

How healthcare MSSPs handle continuous SOC operations

In healthcare settings, where the stakes are high due to the sensitivity of patient data and regulatory requirements, partnering with a healthcare-specific MSSP can provide the expertise, resources, and peace of mind necessary to maintain a robust security posture and ensure compliance with healthcare industry regulations. 

MSSPs employ a team of skilled security professionals who work in shifts to ensure 24/7 coverage. These experts are certified in various security disciplines and are trained to handle a wide range of security incidents. 

MSSPs can:

  • Enhance threat detection and response capabilities
  • Enable real-time monitoring and rapid response to security incidents. 
  • Overcome in-house resource constraints

Covering what traditional security models may miss

Cyber threats don’t adhere to office hours. A continuous SOC, operational 24/7/365, is essential for detecting and responding to threats promptly, mitigating potential data breaches, and minimizing downtime.

Security personnel may not be effectively utilized if their skills and capabilities are confined to a traditional nine to five schedule, as this reduces overall efficiency of any data security measures a healthcare organization puts in place.

Mid-sized healthcare organizations often struggle with limited resources, including budget constraints and a shortage of cybersecurity expertise. As a result, they don’t invest appropriately in 24/7 security coverage.

Unfortunately, this leaves healthcare organizations vulnerable to threats outside of these timeframes. 

Other significant risks in under-investing in security include:

  • Limited coverage
  • Higher breach risks
  • Compliance issues
  • Reduced threat intelligence utilization 

These risks and consequences of under-investing in data security can also impact business continuity, create competitive disadvantages, and lead to inefficiencies and stress within the security team.

The cost of a data breach far exceeds the investment required for proactive cybersecurity measures, making it imperative for organizations to allocate adequate resources to security initiatives.

Alleviate human resource challenges

Recruiting and retaining skilled cybersecurity professionals remains a challenge for healthcare organizations. The cybersecurity talent gap, compounded by competitive salary demands and high turnover rates, hinders the establishment of in-house continuous SOCs. 

Outsourcing to MSSPs provides access to a diverse team of cybersecurity experts with specialized knowledge and experience, ensuring round-the-clock protection against cyber threats.

Strengthen your organization’s SOC 

The adoption of a continuous SOC powered by an MSSP is indispensable for safeguarding healthcare organizations against evolving cyber threats. 

By outsourcing security operations to a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP), organizations can free up internal IT resources to focus on core business activities and strategic initiatives. This addresses resource constraints and enhances threat detection capabilities, enabling healthcare organizations to concentrate on delivering high-quality patient care while maintaining robust cybersecurity defenses.

Additionally, organizations benefit from MSSPs’ predictable, subscription-based pricing, which simplifies budgeting and financial planning, ensuring regulatory compliance is upheld.

For insight into how to evaluate your healthcare organization’s SOC and take it from good to great, check out our on-demand webinar, The 3 Stages of SOC Maturity and How to Reach Them.


This blog post was originally published in December 2021 and has been updated to reflect the latest developments and to ensure accuracy.