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Tuesday March 5, 2024

A House of Cards: Third-Party Vendor Security and Community Hospitals

While many vendors may shy away from admitting it, the truth is that third-party software often represents the weakest link in your security chain.

That’s because when you go into business with a company that doesn’t prioritize reliable safeguards, it gives criminals a backdoor to your most sensitive data. What’s worse, as time goes on, it can become harder to audit and untangle these relationships.

At MEDHOST, we take a different approach. We understand the critical importance of safeguarding your investments and prioritize security through active partnerships. Drawing on over 40 years of keeping our customers protected, this blog explores how companies are being compromised and offers insights to help you avoid becoming the next target.

Expert Perspective

According to Kevin Fu, a Northeastern College of Engineering professor and cybersecurity expert, speaking in an interview with Northeastern Global News (NGN), reliance on less-than-exemplary third-party software can cause serious issues.

“I think it’s really a house of cards,” said Fu, speaking with NGN. “I think a lot of times companies, whether they are big or small, don’t realize how much they depend upon thousands of pieces of software.”

Vendor Sprawl and Its Consequences

Experts refer to this increased reliance on third parties as "vendor sprawl," and it's caused by rising costs and persistent workforce shortages. This expansion in vendor partnerships has created a complex web of applications, systems, and access points, making it difficult for organizations to maintain control and monitor their security posture.

The consequences of inadequate vendor management are becoming increasingly apparent, as evidenced by an alarming trend of large-scale data breaches:

Insights and Recommendations

Here are some pieces of advice for community hospitals to enhance their cybersecurity posture and avoid being targeted:

  • Vendor Management and Oversight: Community hospitals should prioritize robust vendor management practices. This includes thoroughly assessing the cybersecurity measures of third-party software providers before integrating their solutions into hospital systems.
  • Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities in the hospital's systems and networks. This should include assessing the risks associated with third-party vendors and their software solutions.
  • Cybersecurity Training and Awareness: Provide comprehensive cybersecurity training to hospital staff at all levels. Employees should be educated about common cyber threats, such as phishing attacks, and trained to recognize and report suspicious activities promptly.
  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enforce the use of multi-factor authentication for accessing sensitive systems and data. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to verify their identity through multiple authentication methods, such as passwords, biometrics, or security tokens.
  • Zero Trust: Implement network segmentation to restrict access to sensitive systems and data only to authorized personnel. Additionally, enforce strict access controls based on the principle of least privilege, ensuring that employees have access only to the resources necessary for their roles.
  • Disaster Planning: Develop and regularly update an incident response plan that effectively outlines procedures for responding to cybersecurity incidents. This should include protocols for containing the incident, communicating with stakeholders, and restoring normal operations as quickly as possible.

By implementing these measures and staying vigilant, community hospitals can enhance their cybersecurity defenses and reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks.

For more information, please reach out to us at or call 1.800.383.6278.

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