We’re pleased to announce the availability of the 2023 AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report: Focus on Healthcare. It looks at the edge ecosystem, surveying healthcare IT leaders from around the world, and provides benchmarks for assessing your edge computing plans. This is the 12th edition of our vendor-neutral and forward-looking report. Last year’s focus on healthcare report documented how we secure the data, applications, and endpoints that rely on edge computing (get the 2022 report).

Get the complimentary 2023 report.

The robust quantitative field survey reached 1,418 professionals in security, IT, application development, and line of business from around the world. The qualitative research tapped subject matter experts across the cybersecurity industry.

At the onset of our research, we established the following hypotheses.

  • Momentum edge computing has in the market.
  • Approaches to connecting and securing the edge ecosystem – including the role of trusted advisors to achieve edge goals.
  • Perceived risk and perceived benefit of the common use cases in each industry surveyed.

The results focus on common edge use cases in seven vertical industries – healthcare, retail, finance, manufacturing, energy and utilities, transportation, and U.S. SLED and delivers actionable advice for securing and connecting an edge ecosystem – including external trusted advisors. Finally, it examines cybersecurity and the broader edge ecosystem of networking, service providers, and top use cases.

The role of IT is shifting, embracing stakeholders at the ideation phase of development.

Edge computing is a transformative technology that brings together various stakeholders and aligns their interests to drive integrated business outcomes. The emergence of edge computing has been fueled by a generation of visionaries who grew up in the era of smartphones and limitless possibilities. Look at the infographic below for a topline summary of key findings.

In this paradigm, the role of IT has shifted from being the sole leader to a collaborative partner in delivering innovative edge computing solutions. In addition, we found that healthcare leaders are budgeting differently for edge use cases. These two things, along with an expanded approach to securing edge computing, were prioritized by our respondents in the 2023 AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report: Edge Ecosystem.

One of the most promising aspects of edge computing is its potential to effectively use real-time data for patient care, revolutionizing healthcare outcomes and operational efficiency. While mobile devices and personal computers are still extremely popular in healthcare, their ubiquitous availability and connectivity make them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Successful cyberattacks can disrupt services, highlighting the need for robust cybersecurity measures.

Edge computing brings the data closer to where decisions are made.

With edge computing, the intelligence required to make decisions, the networks used to capture and transmit data, and the use case management are distributed. Distributed means things work faster because nothing is backhauled to a central processing area such as a data center and delivers the near-real-time experience.

With this level of complexity, it’s common to re-evaluate decisions regarding security, data storage, or networking. The report shares the trends emerging as healthcare embraces edge computing. One area that’s examined is expense allocation, and what we found may surprise you. The research reveals that the allocation of investments across overall strategy and planning, network, application, and security for the anticipated use cases that organizations plan to implement within the next three years.

How to prepare for securing your healthcare edge ecosystem.

Develop your edge computing profile. It is essential to break down the barriers that typically separate the internal line of business teams, application development teams, network teams, and security teams. Technology decisions should not be made in isolation but rather through collaboration with line of business partners. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of existing business and technology partners makes it easier to identify gaps in evolving project plans.

The edge ecosystem is expanding, and expertise is available to offer solutions that address cost, implementation, mitigating risks, and more. Including expertise from the broader healthcare edge ecosystem increases the chances of outstanding performance and alignment with organizational goals.

Develop an investment strategy. During healthcare edge use case development, organizations should carefully determine where and how much to invest. Think of it as part of monetizing the use case. Building security into the use case from the start allows the organization to consider security as part of the overall cost of goods (COG). It’s important to note that no one-size-fits-all solution can provide complete protection for all aspects of edge computing. Instead, organizations should consider a comprehensive and multi-layered approach to address the unique security challenges of each use case.

increase your compliance capabilities. Regulations in the healthcare industry can vary significantly across different jurisdictions, including countries, states, and municipalities. This underscores the importance of not relying solely on a checkbox approach or conducting annual reviews to help ensure compliance with the growing number of regulations impacting healthcare organizations. Keeping up with technology-related mandates and helping to ensure compliance requires ongoing effort and expertise. If navigating compliance requirements is not within your organization’s expertise, seeking outside help from professionals who specialize in this area is advisable.

Align resources with emerging priorities. External collaboration allows organizations to utilize expertise and reduce resource costs. It goes beyond relying solely on internal teams within the organization. It involves tapping into the expanding ecosystem of edge computing experts who offer strategic and practical guidance. The healthcare industry is familiar with the concept of engaging external subject matter experts (SMEs) to enhance decision-making. Involving outside SMEs can help prevent expensive mistakes and accelerate the deployment process. These external experts can help optimize use case implementation, ultimately saving time and resources.

Build-in resilience. Consider approaching edge computing with a layered mindset. Take the time to ideate on various “what-if” scenarios and anticipate potential challenges. For example, what measures exist if a private 5G network experiences an outage? Can patient data remain secure when utilizing a public 4G network? How can business-as-usual operations continue in the event of a ransomware attack?

Successful healthcare edge computing implementations require a holistic approach encompassing collaboration, compliance, resilience, and adaptability. By considering these factors and proactively engaging with the expertise available, healthcare organizations can unlock the full potential of edge computing to deliver improved patient outcomes, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape.