The Role of ITIL in Improving Computer Security

 Health Care Records


ITIL change management is pivotal to ensuring and maintaining security for IT applications and infrastructure.  Take, for example, the health care industry. says:

“For example, in healthcare and hospital environments, maintaining an eHealthRecord (eHR) application is an enormous IT task. Cerner, Epic, Allscripts, MEDITECH, Siemens and McKesson are the major vendors and cost many millions to purchase. It often requires millions more in resources to implement and maintain.”

HIPAA compliance is mandatory for any hospital, and is another drain on resources. According to a recent industry research, some hospitals have a backlog of over 1000 eHealthRecord Requests for Change (RFC). What is worrying is a major percentage of these records are security related.

So where does ITIL come in?

“A good ITIL change management process is critical to organize all the RFCs and to make sure that the issues impacting security are prioritized high on the implementation list. –”

When there is a security breach, it is often the result of improperly patched and irregularly upgraded hardware and software. This means that they are vulnerable to security holes. It is pivotal to consider security as an integral part of the change management framework of an organization.

What happens when security and a sound ITIL change management process is not implemented?

  • Unrelated systems are not tied together from a security perspective.
  • Established change management processes may be ignored due to the lack of company compliance culture.
  • Security is not considered as an important factor, but just more of a background feature.
  • Sluggish planning resulting in slower system upgrades.

When integrated with company processes, change management can help instill an atmosphere of trust and integrity. Many organizations look at security the way they look at the legal department – an entity you just have to live with. It is important that IT, security, and business work together seamlessly. Otherwise, it results in the breakdown of security.

ITIL offers many benefits with regards to security, and they are:

  • ITIL automates submission, tracking and approval process of IT changes to quickly prioritize and implement critical security issues.
  • Increases visibility of IT changes before implementation so all stakeholders can see the impact on security.
  • Boosts cross-functional communication with real-time reporting to reduce security risk.
  • Enhances IT department productivity by providing automated workflow and escalation so nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Decreases security risk by lowering change-related failures after implementation.
  • Speeds business decisions and implementation by delivering accurate, real-time reports.
  • Minimizes business risk by ensuring Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory compliance through audit trails of IT-related changes for security audits.
  • Identifies opportunities for business process improvement by providing trend analysis reporting for successful and unsuccessful IT-related changes.
  • Ensures standardized methods, processes and procedures are used for all changes.
  • Facilitates efficient and prompt handling of all changes.
  • Maintains the proper balance between the need for change and the potential detrimental impact of changes.

ITIL’s best practices can definitely help your organization reduce security breaches. ITIL’s change management and patch management will have the most significant impact in reducing the risk of security breaches and should be implemented by organizations, especially Healthcare organizations.

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