Penetration testing should be a tenet of your cybersecurity planning and efforts. When conducted properly, you’ll receive a wealth of information on potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities, which you can then remediate. As a healthcare organization, penetration testing can fortify your defenses and ensure your compliance with HIPAA. So, what type should you request? Black box penetration testing is a smart option and delivers many benefits.
In this post, you’ll learn about black box penetration testing for healthcare, its benefits, and best practices.
What Is Black Box Penetration Testing?
Black box penetration testing involves a simulated cyberattack to identify your security weaknesses. Those carrying out the testing are ethical hackers using the same tools, techniques, and strategies as cybercriminals.
The “box” reference describes the level of access, of which there are three: Black, Gray, and White. With black box or opaque box, testers have no previous knowledge of the target system’s internal structure. It’s the most realistic hacker simulation, and the attack is external, entirely outside your network.
Black Box Penetration Testing Scope and Examples
Black box testing can be internal or external. External testing involves targeting visible assets — anything that’s public-facing and connected to the internet. It could include firewalls, routers, VPN connectors, web servers, or any other element that links to the internet.
Internal testing is everything behind the firewall. So, the black box testers would first attempt to access your network through external means. If successful, they can then continue to test behind the firewall.
With a black box penetration test, the firm testing will be seeking to reveal gaps related to your firewall. There are two specific threats to emulate:
- Rogue devices: Hackers can plant these within your system to intercept your traffic and send it out via a cellular network, or they could duplicate the traffic.
- Internal intruder: A hacker scans the network to exploit a device on it.
Here are some specific scenarios that could occur during a black box pen test.
In the simulation, testers assess specific entryways. For example, If you use a firewall to protect internal systems, the test would seek to determine if the configurations are secure. You’ll be able to determine if you’re allowing unknown inbound traffic through the gate.
Evaluation of your public-facing IP address is another key area. The analysts would scan the IP address to identify all ports. Those of interest would be the open ones, as they offer potential for unauthorized access. The next phase would determine if there are any vulnerabilities in those open ports. Any weakness here would be a prime way for cybercriminals to exploit and find entry into your internal environment.
Why Is Black Box Testing a Good Option for Healthcare?
The unique component of HIPAA penetration testing focuses specifically on the confidentiality, security, and privacy of ePHI (electronic PHI). While HIPAA does not explicitly require penetration testing, doing so helps you align with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, HIPAA Security Rule, and Breach Notification Rule.
Any healthcare entity is under constant attack from cybercriminals. You have valuable data in your systems — ePHI. A financially motivated hacker realizes they can make a big payday by stealing and selling PHI through a breach. Such a group may use a ransomware strategy to seize all your information and render your organization unable to operate. Then they ask for a ransom to return your data. This approach has been rising in the healthcare sector. A new study from public health researchers revealed that ransomware attacks doubled from 2016 to 2021. Of those, 44.4% disrupted the delivery of healthcare, and only 20.6% of organizations were able to restore data from backups.
Thus, you have many attacks to combat, and the risks will continue to increase. The best way to do so is proactively with penetration testing, and a black box access level creates the most realistic simulation of how a breach or ransomware attack would occur.
Next, we’ll cover the essential benefits of black box testing in healthcare.
The Advantages of Black Box Testing in Healthcare
Penetration testing can reveal much information about the true integrity of your systems and network. It would be challenging to obtain this from any other cybersecurity initiatives. Here are some of the benefits you can realize with black box penetration testing.
- Understand your security weaknesses and fix them: The main objective of a pen test is to find vulnerabilities before the bad guys do. Even with a robust cybersecurity posture with scanning and monitoring, you may still miss things. A pen test won’t, and it will help you prioritize which changes to make first.
- Ensure compliance: Your adherence to HIPAA rules on ePHI is critical to avoiding penalties and remaining in good standing with your customers. A pen test and a HIPAA security risk analysis are instrumental in ensuring compliance and exceeding the minimums.
- Reduce risk and its costs: With black box testing, the final report will outline where security issues exist. With this knowledge, you can begin to fix all the gaps before a real-world cyberattack occurs, which would impact your organization significantly, costing you time, money, resources, and more. Invest in pen testing to avoid these costs.
- Protect your reputation: For consumers or other businesses to trust your firm, you want to avoid security incidents. It can be detrimental to your reputation with customers, stakeholders, partners, and regulatory bodies. Black box penetration testing is the best course to prevent breaches from happening.
- Build trust with customers: Before a company enters into business with your organization, they’ll want to know about your security and compliance programs. If you can demonstrate your commitment to this with regular pen tests, security risk analyses, and robust cybersecurity measures, these potential customers will have confidence in your ability to keep data secure.
- Enhance your risk management program: Knowing about security weaknesses gives you complete visibility around risk. As a result, you can inform your risk management program with findings from a pen test.
- Expand threat detection capabilities: Black box testing supports your organization in improving the way it deciphers threats that may have been unnoticed. If you can detect better, you can respond in real time and prevent infiltration by hackers.
- Be better prepared for any incident: A real-world simulation of an attack enables you to discover, respond to, and remediate security incidents. You get a test run with pen tests, which can improve how you manage a real hack.
- Get insights on your technology: A black box test offers you a clearer picture of your entire technology landscape build. It’s common for there to be incorrect product fields; most often, this is missing files. With this knowledge, you can enrich and improve the design, implementation, and use of technology.
- Enable better vendor management: Any third parties with access to ePHI must also have rules and protocols in place for compliance. However, you still need assurance that their interactions with your networks are as secure as possible. Third parties can be a way for cybercriminals to infiltrate your network. A pen test ensures the security standards that should be in place are.
Now that you know about the benefits of black box penetration testing, here are some final takeaways to guide you on what’s next.
Final Takeaways on HIPAA Black Box Penetration Testing
Security and compliance are always top of mind for you. With pen testing, you get a holistic view from the perspective of outsiders. Before engaging with a firm to conduct testing, here are some final takeaways.
- Work with pen testers that specialize in healthcare: Not just any pen testers will do for healthcare. Partnering with those with experience and expertise will yield the best results.
- Align testing scope to compliance: In launching a pen test, you’ll want to ensure that the testing scope supports HIPAA rules. Even though pen tests aren’t mandatory, they improve your ability to comply and can be essential in attaining other compliance certifications like HITRUST.
- Develop goals for the pen test: Setting goals is a crucial part of the scope. You should come up with three to five objectives or questions to answer as a result of the pen test.
- Plan for what to do after the pen test: The culmination of the pen test is a thorough report from the testing firm. It identifies all vulnerabilities discovered and which ones are the most severe. From this report, your next step is remediation. Your pen testing partner can often help with these so you close gaps fast.
- Set a date for your next test: Pen testing isn’t a one-time exercise. You’ll need to retest at least annually or if you make significant changes to your infrastructure or deploy new applications.
Black Box Pen Testing for Healthcare
If your organization needs to shore up its security and compliance obligations, you can hire our team to perform a black box test. We have years of experience in pen testing for healthcare organizations. Get started today by contacting us for a consultation and exploring all our healthcare cybersecurity services.