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Outsourced cybersecurity staff, one way healthcare is getting around the talent shortage

The overarching cybersecurity theme of summer 2017 is shaping up to be a widespread infosec talent shortage against the backdrop of fear that arose after the WannaCry ransomware threats happened. Adding to the chaos are predictions that more attacks are not only coming, but will be far worse when they hit. That scenario is opening doors for managed security services providers, managed detection and response firms and virtual CISOs contracting with hospitals to keep them safe.

Managed Security Services Providers

Like third-party managed services providers that tend to many of the day-to-day tactical details of dealing with IT, MSSPs do the same for data security, taking on responsibility for maintenance and upkeep and doing the monitoring and the tracking of issues as they emerge inside or outside of the organization they are servicing. MSSPs are doing a lot of work in the age of the hacker, which is why some healthcare organizations are turning to MSSPs in the first place.

Healthcare organizations will partner with MSSPs to act as their security operations center and consume critical data surrounding events and alerts that could be indications of a problem; 24 hours a day, they are responsible for alerts and the first sign of an intrusion or potential exposure, said Christopher Ensey, chief operating officer at Dunbar Security Solutions, among other things a managed security service provider.

[Also: Here are the dos and don’ts when hiring healthcare cybersecurity pros[1]]

Healthcare has been lagging in IT security, and MSSPs are a way to add that competency quickly, said Bill Ho, CEO of Biscom, a secure document and messaging systems company.

Sometimes more specialized expertise is needed, Ho said. Much like your doctor referring you to a specialist, an internal IT department may not have specific and in-depth knowledge around security. With the speed at which threats change these days, it s no surprise that many organizations are finding that managed security service providers can help them fortify their defenses. The advantages are personnel steeped in the security space and able to keep abreast of the latest threats and concerns, and services that can be quickly scaled up or down as incidents appear and are resolved rather than adding permanent headcount, which is not only expensive but hard to find, Ho said.

Managed Detection and Response

While MSSPs handle cybersecurity broadly, MDR firms specialize in pinpointing security incidents and crafting an appropriate response. MDRs leverage both manual and automatic analysis to give organizations a better chance of defending systems against cyberthreats. And the services are tailored to meet the specific needs of each organization.

“MDRs and MSSPs are rushing to the market. That’s going to be a help to the industry once the security market sorts itself out, said Kurt Hagerman, CISO of security firm Armor. If they can take advantage of the security people need, that will be one potential solution to the problem.”

The virtual or regional CISO

Another alternative is to hire a regional or virtual CISO. This infosec expert typically brings both experience and certification with a background specific enough that it enables her or him to hit the ground running and make necessary recommendations. And it doesn t hurt if they are part of a larger organization.

Virtual CISOs are assigned to a specific account, but that designated CISO can draw on anyone else in the company with whatever the organization needs, said Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek, which offers virtual CISOs for hire. They basically get the benefit of many CISOs — with just one.

[Also: Meet the virtual CISO, the security expert plugging hospital staffing holes[2]]

That bodes well for both the regional CISO and customers because they essentially have an entire team at their fingertips.

What about a tools-centric approach?

What with the infosec staffing crisis, and outsourcing options such as MSSPs, MDRs and virtual CISOs gaining a foothold in healthcare, some experts see hospital strategies evolving beyond the next big thing in security technology.

It s not a very good use of a relatively high-salary security specialist s time to comb through logs on a daily basis and review reports every day and investigate every little alert that fires off of a device, Dunbar s Essey said. Organizations want these highly compensated security professionals to lead a security strategy.

What s more, Hagerman added that the current approach of chasing bright shiny objects without necessarily then having the expertise, personnel or financial wherewithal to effectively use that tool is driving many hospitals away from a security tech approach and toward service providers.

We re about 500,000 security professionals short of the needed jobs, Hagerman added. There s just not enough security professionals to go around.

Associate Editor Jessica Davis contributed to this report.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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  1. ^ Here are the dos and don’ts when hiring healthcare cybersecurity pros (
  2. ^ Meet the virtual CISO, the security expert plugging hospital staffing holes (
  3. ^ @SiwickiHealthIT (
  4. ^

Six OPD graduates sworn in during ceremony

The six graduates of the 14th Session of the Odessa Police Department s Police Academy appeared relatively small in number but they all drew loud and hearty cheers from a phalanx of loved ones Thursday as the new officers were sworn in during an upbeat ceremony at the MCM Elegante Hotel.

Odessa s newly minted finest were lauded for having completed the 24-week training session, which new OPD Chief Mike Gerke noted is not for the faint of heart. It was learned during the ceremony that one graduate continued with the training despite his dislocated elbow while another almost knocked an instructor out because he didn t realize the instructor was tapping out during training.

The ceremony, which was Gerke s first as the new police chief, was highlighted by Gerke s reminder during opening remarks that while the life of a police officer is not an easy one, the OPD s newest officers stand to make many friends in the department. But Gerke urged the graduates to go out and make new connections, and to find friends outside of the department.

This is a very exciting time for the Odessa Police Department, Gerke said. There were initially seven people who signed up for the 14th Session but one dropped out. Having a small number of recruits sign up for the OPD s Police Academy is nothing new as the number also tends to fluctuate from one session to the next. The OPD s next session is slated to begin July 10, OPD Capt. Jerry Harvell said.

The six graduates of the program now bring the number of vacancies in the OPD to the low 20s, Gerke said.

I am just excited we got six more officers in the streets, Gerke said. Excited was how 44-year-old New Orleans native Glenda Lomax felt the moment she realized her long sought-after dream of becoming a blue knight. It is something Lomaz said she always wanted to do since the days she worked as a correctional officer in Lamesa and a security officer in Maryland. Lomax, who is the sole woman among the six graduates, and the oldest, earned an associate s degree in accounting during her long journey to becoming a police officer.

God brought me here, and He led me to this career to protect and serve, Lomax said.

While getting acclimated to the Odessa community, 22-year-old Tyler Silverthorn, who was born in Michigan but raised in Watertown, N.Y., said he is looking forward to starting his law enforcement in earnest.

I m getting used to different kinds of heat, Silverthorn said. I just want to be a good officer and to do good things.

Marco Antonio Barreno Jr. is a 34-year-old native of Pecos and had served 14 years in the United States Air Force. Not only was Barreno praised for his military service, but he was noted for having served five tours overseas, which consisted of two tours in Afghanistan, one tour in Qatar, one tour in Korea and a final tour in England, he said.

The discipline and the structure, Barreno said when asked what drew him to law enforcement. After serving his country for as long as he did, Barreno said he wanted to do the same for the community.

The Kaggle data science community is competing to improve airport …

The Kaggle Data Science Community Is Competing To Improve Airport ...

Going through airport security is a universally painful experience. And despite being slow and invasive, the TSA doesn t have a great record at catching threats[1]. With the help of the Kaggle[2] data science community, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is hosting an online competition to build machine learning-powered tools that can augment agents, ideally making the entire system simultaneously more accurate and efficient. Kaggle, acquired by Google earlier this year[3], regularly hosts online competitions where data scientists compete for money by developing novel approaches to complex machine learning problems. Today s competition to improve threat recognition algorithms[4] will be Kaggle s third launch this year featuring more than a million dollars in prize money. With a top prize of $500,000 and a total of $1.5 million at stake, competitors will have to accurately predict the location of threat objects on the body. The TSA is making its data set of images available to competitors so they can train on images of people carrying weapons. Importantly, these will be staged images created by the TSA rather than real-world examples a necessary move to ensure privacy.

The outcome of the competition will be a good indicator for how well we can expect such systems to work, Reza Zadeh, founder and CEO of computer vision startup Matroid told me. At the very least, we should have such a system augmenting current security guards to ensure they don t miss dangerous items.

The Kaggle Data Science Community Is Competing To Improve Airport ...

Competitors will be competing to predict the likelihood that weapons are hidden in 17 body zones.

Of course, the problem the TSA faces isn t just a machine learning issue. Expensive physical machines are complicated to upgrade, and none feature the kinds of sophisticated GPUs found in modern data centers. Thankfully, Google, Facebook and others are heavily investing in lighter versions of machine learning frameworks, optimized to run locally, at the edge (without internet).

This means that it s possible that some submissions to this competition could wind up in use on actual scanning machines it s just a matter of training beforehand and optimizing for the constrained conditions. The DHS has promised to work closely with the winners to explore potential real-world applications.

This is a really hard problem, machines do not have crazy GPUs, Anthony Goldbloom, Kaggle s creator, told me in an interview. But one thing that gets lost is that doing inference doesn t necessarily need such heavy compute. Another concern that Kaggle and the TSA had to account for was the risk of bias influencing the automated threat detection process a potential nightmare for travelers that could be inappropriately segregated based on arbitrary factors. To mitigate this, the TSA put special effort into creating the data set of images that will ultimately be used to train the detectors.

The TSA did a nice job in setting this up, Goldbloom emphasized. They recruited volunteers but made sure that they had a decent amount of diversity so models don t fail on a certain type of person. Google plans to make GCP available to competitors in the near future. And though Google owns Kaggle, it is thankfully not forcing people to use TensorFlow, its own open-source framework. You can check out additional details here[5]; the competition will draw to a close in December.

Featured Image: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images


  1. ^ the TSA doesn t have a great record at catching threats (
  2. ^ Kaggle (
  3. ^ acquired by Google earlier this year (
  4. ^ Today s competition to improve threat recognition algorithms (
  5. ^ here (
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