What is a Network Security Assessment?

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Health care providers of all sizes are lucrative targets for hackers. The sensitive data they collect contains all of the patients identifying records. In fact, health care records are 50 times more valuable than a stolen credit card number. 

Protecting your patient data is crucial for HIPAA compliance. A data breach can cost your company millions of dollars, as well as the trust of your customers. 

A security consultant can help you establish protocols for routine network security assessments so you can address vulnerabilities before they become a problem. So what is a network security assessment, and what does it look like?

Types of Network Security Assessments

The goal of an assessment is to find vulnerabilities in your network security. It will also determine the impact of a breach in vulnerable areas and give you options to mitigate the damage. 

There are two main types of assessments you can use to identify security issues in your network. Each type uses a variety of methods to conduct a risk assessment. The best security assessments use a combination of approaches. 

Vulnerability Assessment

A vulnerability assessment scans your system for bugs and weaknesses that create an opening in your defenses. It will check every access point to your data and identify weaknesses internally and externally. 

Penetration Test 

Also known as a pen test, this assessment mimics common cyber attacks to test your defenses. This test should assess your security measures and require a security team that knows how to think like a hacker. 

During a penetration test, your network security team may target team members with phishing emails. Employees that fail to identify the threat need more training to protect their assets from cyber attacks. 

How to Conduct a Network Security Assessment 

How to Conduct a Network Security Assessment

1. Identify Your Assets 

You’ll need to create an inventory of all the valuable assets you want to secure. This should include your network, all the devices with access, and anywhere you store private data. This inventory should also act as a map to demonstrate how data is accessed, how devices are connected, and who uses it.  

This will help your team determine every possible access point and secure them. It will also help you discover how networks were breached in the event of an attack. 

2. Take a Vulnerability Assessment

Security breaches can come from a wide range of sources. It may be from an external attack, internal employees who make a mistake, or third parties with access to your network. Your assessment should take a comprehensive look at all the internal and external threats and include them in an actionable report. 

3. Evaluate the Impact

Once you’ve mapped out areas that are vulnerable, you should determine what’s at risk if there is a breach. Some vulnerable targets may only contain public data, and a breach would only cause minimal harm. 

Some vulnerabilities have a much higher risk and need immediate attention. A risk evaluation helps you prioritize which vulnerabilities require action first.  

You may find that some vulnerabilities would allow a hacker access to everything on your system. While shoring up the defenses of these vulnerabilities is critical, you may also consider ways to segregate the data to minimize the impact of an attack. 

4. Take Action

Now that you’ve identified high-risk vulnerabilities, it’s time to enact a set of cybersecurity controls. This should include:

  • Employee training and password protocols
  • Firewalls 
  • Anti-virus software
  • Encryption tools for file sharing
  • Network Segregation and Segmentation
  • Routine software updates
  • Multi-factor authentication for employee access 

5. Rinse and Repeat 

Network security is not a one-and-done project. It is an ongoing process that requires you to evaluate and adapt your security protocols consistently to protect your data. Hackers are constantly developing new tactics, and you should be able to respond to new developments aggressively. 

Learn more about network security in healthcare:

  1. The Main Problems With Healthcare IT Today
  2. What You Need to Know About Healthcare Security
  3. Healthcare IT Security and Threat Assessment

Partner With True North for Your Network Security

Hackers exploit weaknesses to access valuable data. Health care practices without the resources or personnel to monitor their network face serious risks they can’t afford to take. 

True North is an industry leader in Managed IT & Cloud Services for Healthcare. We take a proactive approach to ensure your patient data is always secure so you can focus on their recovery. 

We constantly update our security protocols to stay ahead of criminals trying to exploit your data for profit. Reach out today for your free assessment and learn more about how we can shore up your defenses. 

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