The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges in the healthcare industry, changing how medical institutions operate.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, remote healthcare services have expanded exponentially as an alternative to hospital visits, enabling non-critical patients to receive medical attention while sheltering in place. Moreover, healthcare organizations and government agencies have been consumed with not only managing patient care but also the collection, monitoring and management of COVID-19’s progression and other related pandemic data.
As the healthcare industry continues to focus on the pandemic, these unprecedented changes in medical practices have left them further susceptible to another urgent problem – cybersecurity risks. Healthcare organizations have long been a target of criminals because of the rich data they keep. Patients’ personal information, medical history, as well as insurance information, can be stolen from poorly protected health institutions and used for various criminal purposes.
According to Black Book Market Research’s 2020 report, about 75% of the healthcare industry indicated that they are unprepared to handle these security risks. This research also revealed a 300% increase in data breach susceptibility among healthcare providers. In addition, IBM reported that data breaches in the healthcare sector had the highest average cost amounting to $7.13 million per breach amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the years, inadequate logon authentication practices have been identified as one of the leading causes of healthcare security breaches. Passwords were meant to defend against cybercriminals, but hackers often use them as their gateway into the network.
Complacency with weak passwords and lax security rules and superfluous user permissions often make medical institutions susceptible to risk. Access to healthcare databases is often shared by medical staff as well as other entities who handle patient’s payment and insurance information.
Healthcare organizations must do more to authenticate personnel accessing patient data to prevent personal identifiable information (PII) theft and other security breaches. They must improve their defenses by implementing robust authentication solutions that adhere to modern security standards like FIDO 2.0.
The FIDO Standards for Authentication
The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance is an open industry association that aims to bolster authentication standards, enabling various organizations to provide better security and services to their users.
Their first specifications included the Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) and Universal Second Factor (U2F), which are protocols that serve as the standard for passwordless login and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
FIDO further innovated their security standards, creating the FIDO 2.0 protocols that enable users to maximize mobile devices for streamlined authentication to online services in an omnichannel setting. These specifications include the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification and the Client-to-Authenticator Protocol (CTAP). They enable FIDO-based authentication to supported browsers and platforms and allow the integration of an external authenticator, like a security key or a mobile device, with these applications. The specifications also support biometric multi-factor authentication for identity authentication.
Simpler and Stronger Authentication with FIDO 2.0
It is the FIDO Alliance’s mission to reduce the over-reliance on passwords and replace them with more robust barriers against cybersecurity threats while maintaining convenience for a seamless user experience. A password only authorizes login, but it does not verify the identity of the person accessing the system.
FIDO 2.0 leverages commonly available devices for a simpler and more convenient login. Its cryptographic login credentials are unique to each registered device and are never stored on a server. These on-device credentials can be unlocked using on-device authentication such as a PIN code or swipe pattern set by the user, or biometric authentication using the device’s built-in fingerprint readers or cameras. Moreover, most mobile devices often include a dedicated secure chip that stores and encrypts biometric enrollment templates so that biometric data cannot be extracted from the device.
Using FIDO 2.0, healthcare institutions can replace passwords in their systems with stronger cryptographic credentials that are unique and less susceptible to theft. FIDO 2.0 provides greater assurance that only authorized personnel have access to the healthcare database and that criminals cannot easily circumvent these defenses.
Additionally, these authentication protocols are scalable, enabling healthcare providers to adapt to the rapid changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, without compromising security.
Drive Certainty in Patient Data Protection amid the Age of COVID
With the extensive and rapid shift of medical services to the digital world and vast sets of health data being gathered amid the pandemic, criminals will likely seize this opportunity to infiltrate networks and hack sensitive patient information. Medical institutions must adopt better authentication practices in their operations to ensure that only authorized entities have access to patients’ healthcare data.
The FIDO Alliance’s FIDO 2.0 protocols for passwordless authentication allows healthcare institutions to harness mobile technology for easier authentication in multiple channels. Since FIDO2 credentials are cryptographically registered to a user’s enrolled device, they cannot be easily shared by users unlike passwords. Leveraging cryptographic login credentials coupled with biometric strong authentication, fraudulent individuals can be prevented from accessing healthcare data.
Many organizations have joined the FIDO Alliance for better authentication, and among its constituents is authID, a leading Identity as a Service (IDaaS) provider across global industries. Its products leverage the power of mobile technology and biometrics as a robust defense against cybersecurity risks.
Verified™ by authID delivers a FIDO 2.0 strong identity authentication solution and Passwordless access solution that securely and automatically creates a digital chain of trust between biometrically verified people, their accounts, and their devices. Instead of entering complex and often-forgotten passwords, Verified allows healthcare professionals to authenticate to their systems using on-device biometrics that eliminate the risk of stolen or shared passwords. Verified confirms consent to specific transactions, captures audit trails, and biometrically authenticates a person’s identity in real-time for a seamless user experience.
Schedule a Demo with authID
authID.ai is a provider of an Identity platform that delivers a suite of secure, mobile, biometric identity solutions, available to any vertical, anywhere. authID’s products complement FIDO 2.0 standards to reduce the reliance on passwords and leverage more robust authentication practices, especially in the healthcare sector. Contact authID today at 1 (516) 778-5639 or click here to schedule a demo.