Why Security Testing Holds a Specific Seat in the Healthcare Industry

In the testing industry, while all domains are equal and important, there is always a certain bias for specific domains such as BFSI, health care, which take more weightage than the others. And this is a no brainer.

While testing cannot and will not guarantee, a complete bug-free solution, these are domains where tolerance for errors is very low for understandable reasons – where any error can have a sizeable impact on the user’s financial positioning, health care treatment etc. and the outcomes can be very detrimental.

Specifically talking about health care, countries like the US, have made huge strides into the overall digitization process. Countries like India, where data tends to be disparate and the health care industry is not completely regulated, digitization is playing catch up, but is fast picking up.

Even in underdeveloped nations globally, as strides are being made to improve health care solutions, digitization is happening in parallel. The benefits of such wide-scale digitization in a critical domain needs no explanation.

Read Also: Security Testing for Critical Applications

Global access to data, history of information, and complete records can fasten treatments and enable the right health care at the required time. However, the perils cannot be ignored either.

Healthcare testing, is thus a very regulated space, with a lot of compliances including the well-known ones such as HIPAA, which have traditionally existed.

Given the criticality of this domain, non-functional testing also becomes important, with special focus on areas such as security, performance, accessibility etc.

Let’s take the case of security – incorrect access to patient records, for example, and edits to the information, can be very detrimental, whether it results in under or overtreatment. While the traditional security testing practices such as OWASP top 10 continue to be employed, this is a domain where additional stringent measures become important.

What may be a prioritized list in other domains, becomes a mandatory list in healthcare app testing, whether it be application level, physical level or network level security testing. Together a thought through and dynamic testing effort has to be formulated and implemented for a well-rounded strategic healthcare testing program.

For example, a team member was recently showcasing to me on how small drones can be leveraged to compromise the WIFI networks of even large organizations and what should the mitigations be, to keep these under check.

It’s alarming to note that the kind of attacks are increasingly sophisticated necessitating healthcare app security and healthcare data security to be cohesive and tightly coupled programs, that rely not just on internal security testing teams but also external penetration testers, to take on ethical hacking.

These will have to be done on very controlled environments, obviously, given the impact if something were to go wrong. This thus becomes an effort that spans within and across Sprint cycles, to ensure there is ongoing monitoring as opposed to be a once-a-few-months test activity.

Herein infact, the security SMEs will also have to take on live data analysis and monitoring, with the right level of permissions to see if malicious activity is sensed.

Given the sheer volumes in the industry, it obviously is not possible for a healthcare security testing effort to be a one-time execute and be done scenario – rather it is and will be an ongoing monitoring effort, like say a regular police patrolling, while simultaneously having to update their attack scenarios to ensure they are able to outsmart cyber offenders.

Live analysis in a manual manner cannot be foolproof in this case. Imagine sifting through large files of cryptic data, day in and out. Machine learning and associated artificial intelligence algorithms are a big boon here.

In combination with these aids, security SMEs are making huge strides to keep our healthcare data secure. Thanks to the opportunities this domain holds, there is a lot of scope for specialization for testers as well!

Still, if you have any doubt then talk to our experts to know how security testing can benefit your healthcare app.

About the Author

Rajini Padmanaban

Rajini Padmanaban

As Vice President, Testing Services and Engagements, Rajini Padmanaban leads the engagement management for some of QA InfoTech's largest and most strategic accounts. She has over seventeen years of professional experience, primarily in software quality assurance. Rajini advocates software quality through evangelistic activities including blogging on test trends, technologies and best practices. She is also a regular speaker in conferences run by SQE, QAI STC ,ATA, UNICOM, EuroStar and has orchestrated several webinars. Her writings are featured in TechWell, Sticky Minds, Better Software Magazine. She has co-authored a book on crowdsourced testing . She can be reached at rajini.padmanaban@qainfotech.com

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