US Healthcare Network

Proofpoint’s People-Centric Solution Secures Critical Patient Information from Cyber Attacks

The Challenge

  • Prevent theft of critical patient information
  • Protect company email from phishing, malware attacks
  • Defend against cloud account compromise

The Solution

  • Proofpoint Email Protection
  • Proofpoint Targeted Attack Protection (TAP)
  • Proofpoint Threat Response Auto-Pull (TRAP)
  • Proofpoint DLP for email
  • Proofpoint Cloud App Security Broker (CASB)

The Results

  • Sharply reduced email-based threats
  • Halted cloud account takeover and data breach
  • Improved overall efficiency of the IT Security team
US Healthcare Network
The company has drawn together independent ObGyn practices and other women’s health services into a 600-doctor alliance. Today, it has become one of the country’s leading networks of high-quality, low-cost healthcare services for women. But even as it expands, its mission remains the same: blend quality, safety, and value through coordinated, integrated medical management programs and managed-care contracts.

The Challenge

As a healthcare company, one of the company’s top priorities is protecting patients’ private information. In any organization, the cost of data loss can be high. But in a highly regulated industry such as healthcare, losing patient information can cause serious, lasting harm.

If someone steals private health information, the company doesn’t just have to report the breach to its customers and the public. It must also tell regulators and engage an outside forensic analyst to investigate the breach, find the root cause and assess the company’s response. If the analyst uncovers systemic problems, the government may impose hefty fines.

Like many healthcare companies, the company was facing a sharp increase in email phishing and malware attacks. Its legacy cybersecurity defenses were struggling to keep up.

“We were seeing a constant increase in emails with phishing links or malicious files attached, all designed to get access to patient information,” said the company’s security manager.

At the same time, the company’s shift to cloud-based apps and storage created new opportunities for cyber criminals.

“The cost of any breach is high. Our entire reputation is at stake. Proofpoint has given us the tools we need to protect our patients’ personal information.”
Security Manager

The Solution

The company’s first step was bringing in email security specialists for advice on improving email security for employees, member physicians and patients. As part of that process, the company held proof-of-concept trials (PoCs) with several vendors.

Proofpoint stood out because of its high accuracy. It blocked more malicious emails with a much lower number of false positives than other systems tested.

Securing the No. 1 threat vector with a complete email solution

Soon after the PoC, the healthcare network deployed Proofpoint Email Protection. The solution includes Proofpoint Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Targeted Attack Protection (TAP) and Proofpoint Email Encryption to stop email threats and secure sensitive data. And to help automate remediation when something goes wrong, the team installed Proofpoint Threat Response Auto Pull (TRAP).

TAP and TRAP are intelligent tools that identify known or suspected malicious messages. TAP blocks or quarantines suspicious emails for further investigation. If the analysis confirms malicious content, TRAP removes it from users’ inboxes—even after they’ve been delivered or forwarded to other users.

DLP, meanwhile, monitors and stops any critical data from being stored or forwarded to any unapproved destination, including cloud-based locations.

Securing the cloud

As more and more employees use cloud-based apps and storage, attackers follow. Cloud-based attacks are especially insidious. If bad actors gain access to a cloud account, they can act as a company insider. That means they can send emails, move client data or even trick other users into wiring money or diverting payments.

These are known as email account compromise attacks, and they often target executives’ accounts. By taking over the account of someone in authority, attackers not only have access to the executive’s email and data but can trick other employees into taking all sorts of harmful actions.

In a recent six-month study, 97% of companies saw attacks on their cloud accounts. About 60% of companies experienced a compromise. And 11% had executive accounts compromised.

With Email Protection in place, the healthcare company turned to Proofpoint for ideas on how to apply its email DLP policies to cloud-based data.

The first step was an easy one. The Proofpoint support team recommended that the healthcare network turn on the included TAP SaaS Defense feature in its Proofpoint solution.

The Results

This feature, which comes included to all TAP customers at no added cost, monitors cloud threats and detects accounts that may have been compromised.

Almost immediately after turning on TAP SaaS Defense, the company uncovered a compromised Microsoft 365 account. An employee’s account had been breached. The quick discovery gave the company a chance to react before any confidential data was lost.

“Proofpoint TAP SaaS Defense gave us visibility into a suspicious cloud-based email account,” the company’s security manager said.

The incident spurred the healthcare company’s security team to reassess their overall cloud security posture. The team realized that it would need protection beyond DLP.

After testing several options, the company selected Proofpoint Cloud App Security Broker (CASB) to protect its Microsoft 365 environment. CASB extends Proofpoint’s advanced threat protection and DLP capabilities, including Threat Response Auto Pull, to the cloud.

CASB shares DLP classifiers, built-in smart identifiers, dictionaries, rules, and templates with other Proofpoint products. This integrated approach allows the security team to protect the personal health information of their clients in cloud-based storage locations with the same DLP rules they use to protect email. By unifying DLP policies, the company reduced risk across email and the cloud without extra management overhead—no need to manually keep policies in sync or recreate rules.

The solution detects critical data stored in the cloud and can halt any transfers of confidential data and hold the files for further analysis. It also protects cloud-based accounts from compromise from phishing emails, stolen credentials and brute-force credential attacks.

CASB works seamlessly with Proofpoint’s entire suite of protection tools. By sharing data under a single security “umbrella,” it expands Proofpoint’s industry-leading email protection to include all cloud-based operations.

By installing CASB, IT teams can detect, investigate, and defend against attempts to access sensitive cloud-based data and trusted accounts.

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