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How Kindred Healthcare Uses SD-WAN to Secure Patient Data

Security is a huge concern for any organization. While there is a large industry dedicated to security in an enterprise, there’s also a lot of security that happens in the network. Keeping flows safe and segregated throughout the network is critical to ensuring that information isn’t misused or misplaced. In organizations where regulatory bodies have created rules about the segregation of data it is doubly important that IT professionals find a way to keep data safe.

Security In Healthcare

For healthcare companies, the need to keep data safe is more than just good business. For every patient record that gets violated or leaked, a person’s life could potentially be destroyed. Credit ratings can be repaired. But having the entire medical history of a person could lead to issues that may never be truly resolved.

Kindred Healthcare is one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States. They found themselves facing these kinds of challenges as they were investigating ways to upgrade their existing wide area network (WAN). When Eric Murray came to the most recent Open Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting, he shared some of the things that Kindred has been doing in combination with Viptela to help ensure that patient data is secured and safe.

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One feature that Kindred has really embraced is the ability to segment traffic as it crosses the WAN. Today, the only way to truly ensure traffic separation while crossing the WAN is through expensive MPLS circuits. This works well in areas where MPLS is readily available, but when the only WAN circuit offering is a broadband connection, or when the main MPLS circuit fails and a 4G/LTE backup needs to be used, there is no way to ensure that patient data is being segregated from typical user traffic.

Viptela offered Kindred the ability to segment all the traffic crossing the WAN no matter which circuits it traveled. This gave Kindred the ability to verify that critically secure data was only mixed with other secured data. Not only was it easy for this to be implemented with the installation of Viptela edge devices, but the records for the traffic patterns could be called up whenever necessary to help provide an audit trail. When dealing with regulations like HIPAA, the ability to produce documentation of meeting guidelines on a moment’s notice can help ensure that regular checks are completed in a timely fashion.

Additionally, this ability to segregate traffic through multi-tenant architectures meant that Kindred could also ensure that other traffic could be monitored with additional security appliances. Web filters and malware protection could monitor data streams to ensure that communications were safe and secured. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) boxes could be implemented to ensure that sensitive data wasn’t being accidentally or deliberately emailed outside of the organization against policy. And through the use of service chaining to these devices, Kindred did not need to employ them at every branch site. The SD-WAN solution from Viptela could steer the traffic to the right location every time.

Branch Security Made Easy

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Another example of using segmentation to benefit security comes from Kindred’s planned use of it to bring new sites online and into the network. New offices are full of potential problems and insecure entry points. It sometimes takes weeks or months for audits to be performed to the level of depth necessary to ensure complete security. With the help of Viptela, Kindred plans to isolate these new offices to ensure minimum connectivity to required resources while the necessary security posture is assessed during the on-boarding period. This means that care providers will be able to get up and running quickly while still making sure that necessary data is secured and breaches are less likely.

This kind of segmentation not only benefits new members to the Kindred system, but also partners on the outside that are working with Kindred to perform research or clinical trials. Viptela ensures that traffic is encrypted end-to-end and will be secured along the entire path. That means that the impact of any security incident will be small in scope and potentially solved before it happens.

Security is a concern for everyone in healthcare. The rules and regulations say that the utmost care needs to be done to ensure the privacy of patient data is paramount. While there’s only so much that can be done with non-technical solutions, Kindred Healthcare has shown that, with the help of Viptela, there’s a lot that can be done in the network to provide security across the organization.

About the author

Tom Hollingsworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a networking professional, blogger, and speaker on advanced technology topics. He is also an organizer for networking and wireless for Tech Field Day.  His blog can be found at https://networkingnerd.net/

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