How Ascension Health is Battling Advanced Threats

Evolving Attacks Call for Next-Gen Solutions
Mark Hanson, Paul Smith

Healthcare organizations are increasingly targets for sophisticated data breaches. How can they improve their defenses? Paul Smith of Ascension Health and Mark Hanson of Fortinet offer tips.

Smith, network manager for information services at Ascension Health, says mobility and the rise of sophisticated breaches - such as the one that recently struck Community Health Systems - are testing healthcare organizations' existing defenses.

"It's a multi-front war, so to speak," Smith says. "All the advanced persistent threats we're challenged with right now put an enormous strain on both the hardware infrastructure as well as the technologists to try to keep ahead of [the risks]."

In response, Ascension has deployed new data center and perimeter security systems that both harden the defenses and give the organization flexibility to meet evolving needs.

"Instead of reacting to the business in terms of what it needed for security adaptability, we've had to get ahead of that game so we don't find ourselves in that catch-up mode," Smith says.

Hanson, a director of strategic accounts at Fortinet, says Ascension's experience matches what he sees at other clients, where new security solutions allow the IT security organization to focus more on facilitating business.

"Highly-available, high-speed, low latency security now assures network operations that any slowdown does not have to do with the firewall," Hanson says.

In an interview about defending healthcare organizations from breaches, Smith and Hanson discuss:

  • The latest healthcare breach trends;
  • Effective new security solutions;
  • How to maximize business benefits of emerging technology.

Hanson is Fortinet's U.S. Director - Healthcare, where he is responsible for Fortinet's Healthcare focus on defining, architecting and delivering the secure networks the healthcare industry needs today. He has held prominent roles at security companies such as Breach Security, GuardianEdge Technologies, Symantec and Cisco Systems.

Smith manages networking for Ascension Health, the largest Catholic healthcare provider in the Midwest. He has more than 25 years of IT infrastructure and networking leadership in the airline, higher-education and healthcare industries. Prior to joining Ascension, he held directorships at ATA Airlines, ITT, and was a practicing consultant for Wolters-Kluwer. Learn more about Fortinet's Healthcare Network Security Architecture.

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