HHS Announces a New Cybersecurity Initiative Focused on Medical App Security

It seems the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is stealing a page from the Homeland Security Department’s playbook with the launch of a new cybersecurity initiative.

This new HHS project is clearly modeled on the Homeland Security Department’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC). NCCIC works to boost awareness and understanding of cyber threats across a variety of private and public sector entities.

The new healthcare initiative will be deemed Health Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or HCCIC.

HHS has already stated a few of the primary goals for the new HCCIC program:

  • Reduce unnecessary hype about cyber threats while increasing education outreach on threats in the healthcare sector
  • Provide more and better information and education on cyber threats to health data
  • Offer best practices – i.e. what a small doctor’s office can do to protect patient privacy
  • Work collaboratively with mobile app developers to encourage better security practices
  • Help equip affected organizations with tools to take action on threats

The new HHS center represents a continual effort by the federal government to address healthcare application cybersecurity. The new focus for healthcare’s war against cybersecurity correlates with the recent explosion of mobile health applications. In 2016, a total of almost 260,000 mobile health apps were found in app stores. The industry’s fear and concern is that cybersecurity is lagging far behind the uptake in new health technologies.

While HHS published a 5-year plan to build and foster this initiative, most industry experts are noting that this is not going to be a simple endeavor with few if any “near-term” benefits.

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