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Tripwire has announced the results of a study on risk-based security management in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries which reveals that despite regulatory pressures, these industries lag behind other sectors in the implementation of critical security controls.

The health and pharmaceutical industries have undergone significant information security changes in 2013, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) fines have grown in both size and frequency. In August, Affinity Health Plan was fined more than $1.2 million for HIPAA violations and insurer WellPoint agreed to pay a $1.7 million penalty in July.

As the final omnibus rule goes into effect, new state healthcare exchanges place additional security and privacy pressures on healthcare organizations.

Key findings in the Tripwire study include:

  • 70 percent say communicating the state of security risk to senior executives is not effective because communications are contained in one department or line of business.
  • Only 52 percent use formal risk assessments to identify security threats.
  • Only 58 percent have fully or partially deployed change control and security configuration management.

“It is true that healthcare organizations rank better than average in some areas of this survey, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” said Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer for Tripwire.

“About half of healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations are not using any kind of formal risk assessments, and they are also far less open to challenging current assumptions. Both of these factors could cause them to be blindsided by the increasing number of cybersecurity threats to their businesses.”

The survey, conducted in April 2013 with the Ponemon Institute, evaluates the attitudes of 1,320 respondents from IT security, IT operations, IT risk management, business operations, compliance/internal audit and enterprise risk management. One hundred seventeen health and pharmaceutical sector respondents from the U.S. and U.K. participated in the healthcare portion of the survey.

For more information about this survey, please visit