Cloud Security in Healthcare: Strategic Approaches to Protect Your Data

Cloud Security in Healthcare: Strategic Approaches to Protect Your Data

Cloud computing services let healthcare organizations connect with more computing resources to enhance patient care. However, cloud computing also raises unique healthcare data security challenges.

Sixty-one percent of healthcare companies experienced a cloud cyberattack in the past 12 months, with 86% of these attacks resulting in financial losses or significant damages.

Healthcare organizations and technology providers must protect patient data and ensure confidential private communications in cloud-based transactions.

Ready to commit to comprehensive and in-depth patient and data privacy on the cloud? Here’s how.

What is Cloud Security in Healthcare?

Healthcare cloud security safeguards data privacy across online infrastructure, applications, and platforms, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of patient records, clinical applications, and valuable medical research data. Cloud security requires collaboration between cloud providers and their clients, including healthcare institutions, staff, and even the patients themselves.

What is Cloud Security in Healthcare?

Indeed, cloud security is now one of the most pressing concerns in healthcare. Breaches and data loss can have severe consequences for both healthcare businesses and patients. From the patient’s viewpoint, their data, including health conditions, medical records, and transaction records, is considered highly sensitive. Any leakage of this data, no matter how trivial it is, can infringe upon patient privacy and might lead to financial loss, or ransomware attacks.

Moreover, cloud security is essential for fostering trusted communication between physicians and patients, impacting the reputation and market positioning of healthcare institutions. Considering the strict and complex regulations that protect healthcare data privacy, even a minor breach can result in significant fines and substantial losses for the company.

Common Security Threats to Healthcare Cloud

Despite the significant benefits offered to healthcare organizations, cloud platforms also expose these entities to increased security and privacy threats regarding stored data. Common challenges include:

Common Security Threats to Healthcare Cloud
  • Data breaches
  • Unauthorized access
  • System misconfiguration
  • Regulatory and compliance challenges

Data Breaches

The exponential growth of healthcare data has made organizations vulnerable to advanced ransomware and cyber attacks. These attacks, with severe consequences and financial burdens, thus, pose a significant threat to the healthcare ecosystem.

Cloud breaches, particularly through phishing and ransomware, are increasingly prevalent. In 2022, 61% of healthcare respondents encountered a cloud infrastructure breach. Many breaches result from employees or contractors with access to patient data, due to limited understanding of cloud security measures. Besides, the transition to cloud services can introduce vulnerabilities that cybercriminals exploit as hospitals adopt more complex storage solutions.

Unauthorized Access

Unauthorized access refers to the usage of cloud resources, data, or services without proper permission. Malicious attackers exploit cloud-based resources by taking advantage of excessively permissive access, unrestricted ports, and failures in secret data management, such as poorly protected passwords, encryption keys, API keys, and admin credentials.

Both patients and healthcare providers share concerns about unauthorized access to sensitive medical data. Security lapses can lead to compromises in confidentiality and privacy, which is a significant worry.

According to a recent Cloud Security Spotlight Report, 53% of surveyed healthcare organizations identified unauthorized access through employee credential misuse and improper access controls as the most significant threat to cloud security. This poses an even greater risk, considering that 96% of the surveyed organizations have some or all of their applications in the cloud, potentially exposing a vast amount of data.

System Misconfiguration

A security misconfiguration occurs when security settings are not implemented or deployed with errors, leading to vulnerabilities that can expose applications and data to cyber attacks or breaches.

Human error is a common cause of misconfiguration, especially in complex and multi-level configurations. Particularly, manual configuration of cloud workloads and security services without automation can increase this type of risk, even going beyond one’s intention.

For example, a senior administrator attributed a recent data breach in Washington, D.C.’s health insurance exchange, affecting thousands of users, including members of Congress, to a fundamental human error. The exposed data included personal information such as date of birth, social security numbers, and contact information of 56,415 current and former customers.

Regulatory and Compliance Challenges

Complying with healthcare regulations presents an additional challenge for healthcare providers. They must adhere to various data privacy and security regulations, including HIPAA and GDPR, while also considering the specific requirements of each country for patient data storage and handling. Besides, managing data across multiple jurisdictions, especially when utilizing public cloud services, also adds complexity due to the geographic distribution of data centers and the different regional legal frameworks they are subject to.

However, this “complicated” verification process ensures that healthcare organizations are committed to choosing a well-compliant cloud solution. To execute this, careful planning, legal consultation, and continuous monitoring are among the most important steps.

Best Practices of Cloud Security in Healthcare

Regarding the mentioned barriers that might impede the functionality of the cloud services, healthcare providers need to pay attention to adopting the best practices in enhancing their cloud security. A comprehensive strategic approach to this problem requires healthcare organizations to:

Best Practices of Cloud Security in Healthcare
  • Understand the regulatory framework
  • Conduct data encryption, data monitoring, and backup plan strategy
  • Develop a robust identity and access management (IAM) strategy for effective implementation
  • Leverage auditing
  • Regularly train staff

Understand The Regulatory Framework

Healthcare organizations must prioritize patient data protection and adhere to industry regulations, such as HIPAA, HITRUST, or ISO 27001. It is crucial to ensure that workload migration to the cloud does not compromise existing compliance and readiness scores.

However, achieving such a goal of cloud security in healthcare can be demanding in practice. For instance, auditing and log collection procedures must adhere to regulatory frameworks and protect sensitive health information (PHI). Besides, cloud providers may only offer limited support for HIPAA compliance, so it is important to communicate responsibilities clearly to prevent misunderstandings or incidents beyond organizational control.

Conduct Data Encryption, Data Monitoring, and Back-Up Plan Strategy

When deploying cloud-based services, it is imperative to thoroughly assess data privacy aspects and encryption controls. This includes data encryption, public-key encryption, identity-based encryption, identity-based broadcast encryption, and attribute-based encryption. Additionally, a structured approach for ensuring secure and controlled identity access through federation, such as OpenID Connect or SAML, should be adopted.

For example, healthcare organizations like the Mayo Clinic employ email encryption to safeguard the confidentiality of electronic communications involving patients, staff, and healthcare professionals. This measure guarantees that only authorized recipients can decrypt the email content, ensuring compliance with regulations like HIPAA and protecting patient information.

Furthermore, utilizing continuous monitoring and threat detection tools to promptly identify potential security incidents is another critical aspect. It is imperative to establish a comprehensive incident response plan delineating roles, responsibilities, and procedures in the event of a security breach.

Lastly, a robust data backup and recovery plan is necessary to ensure the commitment to cloud security in healthcare. This approach requires regularly backing up data on-site and off-site, as well as testing recovery procedures to promptly and effectively restore operations in the event of data loss incidents.

Develop A Robust Identity and Access Management (IAM) Strategy for Effective Implementation

Each individual within your organization who accesses the network poses a potential vulnerability that can compromise the data security in healthcare process. Therefore, granting access to sensitive data should be based on roles and needs.

Robust IAM strategies, including multi-factor authentication (MFA), role-based access control (RBAC), and the principle of least privilege, then become very helpful for organizations in managing such access. Particularly, regular review and updates of access permissions are necessary to maintain authorized access while terminating access for former employees.

Leveraged Auditing

Auditing holds significant importance as a success metric in the healthcare industry, requiring careful consideration. The transition of workloads to the cloud expands the potential audit findings, making it crucial to update auditing processes and procedures during implementation. It is recommended to explore dedicated healthcare auditing frameworks, such as GCloud Healthcare API, which offer superior audit performance compared to plain logging. Additionally, it is necessary to acknowledge that data often needs to be sourced from multiple cloud services, which may lack the same level of security as dedicated endpoints. Hence, comprehensive monitoring of all relevant cloud services becomes essential to provide substantial evidence of auditing performance, ensuring sufficient capacity support and effective closure of the audit loop.

Regular Staff Training

The adoption of new technologies, like cloud services, often leads to learning and adoption gaps. While major cloud providers offer extensive learning resources, documentation, and training sessions, they often fail to address specific use cases. Therefore, it is crucial to provide healthcare-specific and up-to-date training on relevant security issues. Companies can opt for interactive, group-based cybersecurity sessions that promote knowledge sharing and examination of real-world incidents.

For example, at KMS Healthcare, comprehensive training on U.S. healthcare IT regulations is mandatory for all teams. From onboarding onwards, employees must complete online training courses such as “Security Awareness” and other Healthcare Knowledge Framework modules. This ensures full compliance with data security protocols when handling stakeholder data.

Given that only 59% of healthcare respondents reported receiving ongoing security awareness training from their employers, it is essential to intensify such efforts, particularly concerning cloud data storage security.

Advanced Security Technologies

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms are well known for their unparalleled capabilities in efficiently processing and analyzing large datasets at incredible speed. Therefore, the integration of AI and ML tools has undoubtedly brought about a revolution in the realm of cloud computing security solutions.

Advanced Security Technologies


In the context of cybersecurity, timeliness plays a critical role due to the high stakes involved. The advent of AI and ML has revolutionized decision-making by enabling real-time monitoring of cloud environments. This, in turn, leads to a substantial reduction in threat response times, empowering cloud security teams to proactively outmaneuver potential attackers.

Customized Security Solutions

AI-enabled cloud security empowers organizations to acquire tailored security solutions that align with their specific needs. As a result, numerous Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are harnessing AI-based algorithms to customize security controls and formulate defense strategies that precisely cater to the distinct requirements and data types of each organization. This enables enhanced protection, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical assets.

Automatic Abnormal Detection

The utilization of AI and ML in cloud security offers a remarkable advantage by enhancing anomaly detection capabilities. These advanced technologies possess the capability to thoroughly analyze and identify abnormal patterns or deviations, which could potentially indicate security risks. As a result, security teams benefit greatly from the proactive alerting mechanism provided by these models, enabling prompt investigation and mitigation of potential threats.

The growing prominence of automation has emerged as a key advantage of this new technology. By leveraging AI to handle repetitive security and alarming tasks, the burden on in-house IT teams is reduced, allowing them to focus on more productive initiatives that drive value.


How can healthcare organizations ensure compliance with data protection laws?

  • Stay Updated with Data Privacy Regulations: Monitor updates and adapt practices to ensure compliance.
  • Develop Comprehensive Privacy Policies: Clearly outline the procedures of patient data collection, storage, and utilization. Make policies accessible to patients and employees while complying with regulations.
  • Manage Access: Give access to authorized personnel only. Strengthen security with multi-factor authentication.
  • Encrypt Data: Use strong encryption to protect data during transmission and storage.
  • Regular Audit: Audit data access logs to detect suspicious activities.
  • Train Staff: Provide updated training on data privacy regulations and the importance of data confidentiality for all involved personnel.

How Does Cloud Security Influence Healthcare Data Accessibility and Sharing?

By ensuring cloud security in healthcare, organizations can reduce all the worrisome concerns and confidently yield all the benefits of this new data storage model to:

  • Facilitate Data Accessibility and Mobility: Healthcare providers can access patient information in real-time, regardless of their location
  • Enhance Scalability and Flexibility: Healthcare organizations can efficiently manage large volumes of health data without the need for significant physical infrastructure upgrades. This will empower organizations to optimize their operations.
  • Leverage Cost-Effectiveness: Cloud computing reduces these expenses by eliminating the requirement for extensive on-site hardware and the associated maintenance costs.
  • Fuel Collaboration: Cloud computing enables seamless sharing and collaboration of patient data across healthcare providers, fostering coordinated and comprehensive care.

What Future Trends are Emerging in Healthcare Cloud Security?

  • Zero Trust: The Zero Trust operates on the principle of “trust no one, verify everything.” Users are consistently authenticated and authorized based on factors such as device health, location, and user behavior before gaining permission to access data.
  • Automation of DevSecOps: DevSecOps empowers organizations to proactively address issues before they have any impact. This methodology facilitates the implementation of security throughout the entire application development lifecycle, including cloud-based platforms.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) Enhancements: This trend surrounds the adaptive access controls that dynamically modify access privileges based on user behavior, context, and risk assessment. Additionally, User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) is gaining momentum, offering real-time monitoring and detection of abnormal user behavior to mitigate unauthorized access and insider threats.
  • Secure Access Service Edge (SASE): By integrating WAN capabilities and various security features, SASE establishes a resilient security environment within the cloud.
  • Cybersecurity Mesh: It revolves around the protection of individual users and devices within the cloud infrastructure, rather than the entire network. This approach is particularly suitable for the present work-from-home culture, as it focuses on establishing a distributed network and infrastructure to ensure security for all network users and devices.

Level Up Your Cloud Security With KMS Healthcare – Your Trusted Partner!

Effective management of cloud security is a pressing concern that requires organizations to have a clear understanding and proactive strategy to completely address it, thus maximizing the potential of the new technology.

As a leading provider in the healthtech industry, KMS Healthcare is dedicated to supporting you in your quest for secure and efficient cloud-based platforms. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through the process and help you explore the promising opportunities that cloud technology can offer in healthcare.

Don’t miss the chance to upgrade your security measures. Book a consultation with a KMS Healthcare expert today and take your healthcare solutions to the next level.


(n.d.). Healthcare Data Breach Statistics. The HIPAA Journal.

(n.d.). The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). European Data Protection Supervisor.

(n.d.). DC Health Link Data Breach Caused by Human Error. The HIPAA Journal.

(n.d.). 2022 Cloud Data Security Report. Newwrix.


Google Cloud And Mayo Clinic Partner To Improve Healthcare With AI

. Forbes.

Get The Latest In Healthcare Straight To Your Inbox

Other Posts You Might Be Interested In

Confidently Cast Your Healthcare Technology Strategies with KMS Healthcare Consulting

Work smarter toward greater results by partnering with the KMS Healthcare Technology Consulting team—start today.