As Mobility Spreads, Healthcare IT Security Must Be Enhanced

by David Bailey

The healthcare industry has become a bit more mobile-centric in the past few years, driven by the need for agile, always-on operations that fit the preferences of both employees and clientele. When watching trends in the IT manufacturing sector, it has become clear that personal computers are likely to continue falling in shipments and investments, replaced by the adoption of and rising expenditures related to smartphones, tablets and portable computers.

What’s more, the mobility arena has not stopped evolving rapidly, as the Internet of Things has clear implications for the average organization’s relevant strategies, with wearables falling into similar categories as smartphones. Unfortunately, mobile devices and apps are among the greatest threats to data security in the health care, financial services, manufacturing and legal sectors, as well as those that fall under the government umbrella.

The most troubling aspect of mobility thus far has been the relatively slow-moving push to better manage and secure all of the assets involved, with reports indicating that entities in virtually every industry have simply not struck the right chord quite yet. There has been some progress made in the hardware department, with companies finally beginning to introduce network and infrastructure controls built for mobile-related risk management and deploying device protection solutions.

Leaving apps out of the equation will almost certainly spell disaster for an organization, though, as every type of IT security is reliant upon comprehensive strategies that leave no stone unturned or vulnerability unchecked for long periods of time. A new report indicated that the world’s organizations will be spending a monumental amount of budget on mobile technologies within the next few years, meaning that leaders need to get their security programs in order as soon as possible.

A major landmark
International Data Corporation recently estimated that businesses, public-sector agencies and other organizations will spend $1.2 trillion annually on mobile technologies by 2019, and this does not account for consumer expenditures in the market. Suffice it to say that this type of growth will be paramount in the private sector, as other types of IT investments – including those related to the cloud – have not broken the $1 trillion mark yet and are not expected to for at least a decade.

“More than ever, mobile technologies are empowering workers across industries to connect, collaborate and create new ways to operate and do business,” IDC’s Global Technology and Industry Research Organization Program Director Jessica Goepfert explained. “It goes beyond providing a smartphone to liberate the deskbound worker. Instead, it’s about utilizing mobile technology to increase sales, improve productivity and raise customer and employee satisfaction.”
Breaking it down a bit, the analysts believe that the manufacturing and professional services industries will have the biggest role in these investments, accounting for 17 percent of all dollars spent among organizations in 2019. However, virtually every sector is expected to spend more on these assets in the coming years, including telecommunications, health care, human resources and government.

Furthermore, the market stood at a size of $901 billion in total annual global investments from organizations in 2014, meaning that an additional $101 billion will be tacked on over the course of the next three and a half years. Although this might not be all that surprising to the average business leader, it should make it clear that a lack of persistence in planning and strategic security creations will be a major risk moving forward, as the workplace continues to become more mobilized.

Again, progress has been made with devices, but the onus has been decisively placed on application management and security of late.

A legitimate concern
AppsTechNews recently explained some of the reasons why companies need to become a bit more aggressive in their creation of mobile software management, support and security strategies. First and foremost, the source pointed out that fewer than 25 percent of organizations are currently believed to have actually deployed a mobile app that comes with substantive rewards to operations, and this is likely because of the fears involved.

Another hindrance standing in the way of more progressive app strategies is the lack of budget currently allocated to enterprise mobility at large, as the news provider cited an Intel study finding that revealed more than two-thirds of all chief information officers are granted no funding for these ventures. Without investment power, CIOs will simply not be able to get effective and secure mobility strategies into motion in the coming years.

However, money will not fix everything. Rather, decision-makers need to ensure that they are putting diligent effort into researching their internal risk and external threats, as well as observing the best practices of shoring up defenses specifically for mobile assets. Industries that are more at risk of experiencing data breaches, including health care, will need to be especially active in these overhauls.