Security Operations Centers (SOCs) and Compliance teams may seem like natural allies in healthcare cybersecurity. Both are tasked with limiting risk, protecting an organization from cyber threats, and staying on the right side of regulatory standards.

Despite their similar goals, however, SOCs and Compliance teams don’t always have strong partnerships. This presents a missed opportunity for healthcare organizations, which face an increasing number of sophisticated and aggressive cyberattacks.

In the past year, more patient records than ever were compromised.

Building a bridge between the two teams is essential to strengthen cybersecurity, but it may feel like a daunting task if your organization’s SOC and Compliance teams have traditionally operated in silos.

Read on to explore the benefits of aligning both teams, as well as some tips for improving communication and collaboration.

Why are SOC and Cybersecurity Compliance teams often siloed?

Although the goals of the SOC and Compliance are similar, each team approaches their objectives differently.

In many healthcare organizations, Compliance and SOC teams are likely to be siloed in different parts of an organization with minimal interaction. Compliance often has closer ties to the Human Resources and Legal teams, whereas the SOC may have a tighter bond with IT.

The separation may happen organically, yet the teams remain siloed for a few reasons:

  • Different mindset about risk
  • Distinct language and terminology
  • Success is measured differently

These teams don’t always have the best perception of one another, either. For example, individuals on a SOC team may view compliance checks and balances as bureaucratic hurdles that keep them from responding to threats quickly.

And individuals on the Compliance team may grind their teeth when their SOC counterparts make rapid changes. They may deem them potentially disruptive to the organization’s sustained compliance with standards and regulations.

Alternative approaches to security and risk

While both the SOC and Cybersecurity Compliance teams’ missions involve risk mitigation, how they approach it can vary significantly.

Here are some examples of these differing methods:

SOC teams:

  • Mostly reactive
  • Primary concern is cyber incident response; detecting, investigating, and responding to incidents when they occur
  • Focused on what’s happening day to day, threats in the immediate future, current trends in cyber risk, and tasks that need to be completed immediately to keep data safe
  • Focused on the tools they use

Compliance teams:

  • Typically more proactive
  • Focus on adhering to regulations and maintaining compliance standards so that an incident is less likely to happen
  • Long-term plans for upcoming regulations, annual audits, and maintaining compliance in the future
  • Focused on people and regulations

Language barriers

Another challenge in de-siloing SOC and Compliance is how they talk about risk.

A SOC team talks in terms of threats, vulnerabilities and incidents — things that are happening in real time. Compliance teams usually have conversations focused on audits, controls, and requirements.

The use of different terminologies can lead to misunderstandings between the two teams.

Separate success signals

With a distinct focus for each, it’s unsurprising that SOC and Compliance teams use different metrics to measure success.

The SOC relies on time-based measurements, including:

  • Mean time to detect an incident
  • Alert acknowledgement
  • Mean time to respond.

Compliance teams often measure success by passing audits and meeting other milestones.

These divergent approaches to what are essentially the same set of problems all lead to a missed opportunity for healthcare cybersecurity.

How do siloed communications impact healthcare cybersecurity?

When SOC and Compliance teams don’t communicate effectively, information is withheld that can have an adverse effect on an entire organization.

For example, Compliance needs information about current trends and threats from the defenders who are in the trenches. If the SOC team isn’t providing that information, the Compliance team can’t help the SOC develop plans and procedures to address those risks.

The SOC, on the other hand, needs to understand regulations. If the Compliance team doesn’t partner with the SOC to educate them about new policies, the SOC won’t know what interventions and remediations need to be implemented to satisfy those requirements.

Effective collaboration between the SOC and Compliance teams

Consistent information-sharing between the SOC and Compliance teams provides a clearer, more nuanced picture of the security risks the organization faces.

Each team has something the other lacks — the SOC team is on the frontlines of healthcare cybersecurity while Compliance takes a more strategic approach to reducing threats.

Immediate action + strategic oversight

The SOC can quickly address threats by creating detection mechanisms or remediation strategies that limit data exposure.

Meanwhile, Compliance can take on a holistic view, aiming to understand the overall risk and developing policies that mitigate those risks. This could involve educating the organization about existing policies that are already in place to handle such risks.

Knowledge sharing + risk management

Information from Compliance about broader policy implications helps the SOC develop targeted detections and reporting. This collaboration ensures the entire organization is educated about potential threats and the best practices to mitigate them.

Expertise focused on internal + external threats

The SOC primarily focuses on external threats, such as the increasing trend of ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations. They possess in-depth knowledge of ransomware gangs, their tactics, and the tools they use.

In contrast, the Compliance team concentrates on internal behaviors that could predispose the organization to cyberattacks. This includes educating employees on recognizing phishing campaigns and enforcing robust security measures like stronger passwords.

Compliance also leverages standards and frameworks such as those set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the  (HICP). These guidelines help them identify non-technical risks and ensure that internal practices align with industry best practices to mitigate vulnerabilities effectively.

By fostering a culture of continuous collaboration and mutual understanding between the SOC and Compliance teams, organizations can enhance their cybersecurity posture, addressing both immediate and strategic security challenges.

How to bring the SOC and compliance teams together

It’s likely that healthcare will always be a target for cybercriminals. With these pressures, it’s critical to have a thorough understanding of threats.

To encourage cooperation between the SOC and Compliance consider:

  • Designating a person to act as liaison between the two teams
  • Bringing the heads of each department together to build a common vocabulary about risk
  • Allocating some time every month for both teams to meet. Admittedly, this can be difficult for smaller organizations with one security person and one compliance person, both of whom are also juggling other responsibilities. However, even if you start small, with one meeting, this can be an effective way to get on the same page.

Although these ideas might look different based on the size of the organization, they can serve as a starting point for building a bridge between these critical teams.

When SOC and the Compliance teams work together, your healthcare organization and your patients benefit.

For additional insights into how to overcome cybersecurity silos between SOC and Compliance within your healthcare organization, watch our on-demand webinar.