Skyhigh Cloud Report: Average Healthcare Organization Uploads 6.8 TB of Data Per Month

Analysis is Based on Actual Usage Data for Over 1.6 Million Employees at Healthcare Providers and Payers

June 26, 2015

7 Min Read


Campbell, Calif. – June 25, 2015 – Skyhigh Networks, the cloud security and enablement company, today released the first Cloud Adoption & Risk in Healthcare report. The findings are based on actual usage data for over 1.6 million employees at healthcare providers and payers, rather than surveys that ask people to self-report their behavior. In this quarter’s report, Skyhigh explored the incidence of insider threats within these organizations and expose a worldwide black market in stolen login credentials that cyber criminals use to gain access to sensitive information in cloud services. The report also details the top 20 enterprise and consumer cloud services in healthcare, the top cloud services used to connect with business partners, and how prolific one employee can be in terms of cloud usage and high-risk behavior.

Overview of Cloud Adoption in Healthcare

The average healthcare organization uses 928 cloud services, which comes as a surprise to many IT departments. When employees bring cloud services to the work environment for increased productivity and efficiency without the knowledge or approval of IT, they may not realize the risk they’re introducing to the organization. Just 7.0% of cloud services meet enterprise security and compliance requirements, as rated by Skyhigh’s CloudTrust Program. Only 15.4% support multi-factor authentication, 2.8% have ISO 27001 certification, and 9.4% encrypt data stored at rest. The average healthcare organization uploads 6.8 TB to the cloud each month and without proper controls this data could be at risk.

By far, the most popular cloud category in healthcare are collaboration tools. The average healthcare organization uses a dizzying 188 collaboration services, including Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, and Evernote. Of course, using this many collaboration services can actually create silos and impede collaboration. Collaboration services are followed by development with 52 services per organization (e.g. SourceForge, GitHub, etc.), content sharing with 37 services (e.g. YouTube, LiveLeak, etc.), social media with 33 services (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and file sharing with 31 services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.).

 The average healthcare employee uses 26 distinct cloud services including 8 collaboration services, 4 file-sharing services, 4 social media services, and 4 content sharing services. What’s troubling is that each employee is tracked on average by 4 marketing analytics and advertising services. These services are used to deliver targeted ads to users across the Internet but they are also increasingly used by cyber criminals to determine the sites healthcare employees frequent most. Armed with this information, criminals attempt to compromise these sites in order to ultimately compromise a target healthcare organization in what’s known as a “watering hole attack.”

Insider Threats

A cloud service may be secure, but employees can still use it in risky ways. While
Edward Snowden is the most well-known example of an insider threat, most insider
threat incidents are quiet and may not even be uncovered in a timely manner, if at
all. Healthcare records containing Social Security numbers and addresses are worth approximately 20 times a credit card number on the black market because cyber criminals can open multiple fraudulent accounts. Records for terminally ill patients
are worth even more because it’s less likely the patient or family will detect the fraud. Consider the example of a hospital employee who sells these records. In many cases, a healthcare organization has no way to detect risky user behavior, whether intentional or unintentional. Since most organizations are concerned about a high-profile whistleblower, they underestimate insider threats.

Earlier in the year, Skyhigh surveyed healthcare organizations in partnership with the Cloud Security Alliance and found that just 33% of organizations knew of an insider threat incident in the last year. However, examining actual anomaly detection data collected across healthcare users, we found that 79% of organizations had behavior indicative of an insider threat in the last quarter alone. While not all of these events turn out to be malicious activity, the incidence of potentially destructive behavior by employees is much higher than most healthcare organizations realize.

Compromised Credentials

There were more software vulnerabilities discovered and more data breaches in 2014 than any year on record. Following one of the largest breaches of the year, eBay prompted 145 million users to change their passwords after cyber criminals compromised their account credentials. With healthcare organizations uploading significant volumes of data to the cloud, the theft of a username and password can have a far-reaching impact. Research by Joseph Bonneau at the University of Cambridge shows that 31% of passwords are re- used in multiple places. With the average healthcare employee using 26 different cloud services, one compromised password could give criminals access to a significant amount of data.

Skyhigh found that 89.2% of healthcare organizations have exposure to compromised credentials. While this number is lower than the overall average of 91.7% across all industries, 14.4% of healthcare employees have at least one compromised credential, compared with just 11.2% across all industries. Anecdotally, we identified one health insurance company with 9,932 compromised credentials. Considering that just 15.4% of cloud providers offer multi-factor authentication that can make it more difficult for attackers to exploit stolen credentials, we recommend healthcare organizations use strong, unique passwords for each cloud service and change them regularly to limit exposure to compromised credentials.

Top Enterprise Cloud Services in Healthcare

1.      Cisco WebEx

2.      ADP

3.      Microsoft Office 365

4.      Concur

5.      Zendesk

6.      Salesforce

7.      Caremark

8.      Oracle RightNow

9.      ServiceNow

10.  GoToMeeting

11.  Box

12.  Mindbody

13.  Oracle Taleo

14.  Citrix ShareFile

15.  SAS OnDemand

16.  Fieldglass

17.  Adobe EchoSign

18.  NetSuite


20.  Hightail


Top Consumer Cloud Services in Healthcare

1.      Facebook

2.      Twitter

3.      Pinterest

4.      YouTube

5.      LinkedIn

6.      StumpleUpon

7.      Tumblr

8.      Flickr

9.      Yahoo! Mail

10.  Vimeo

11.  Gmail

12.  Instagram

13.  Dropbox

14.  Spotify

15.  Google Drive

16.  SlideShare

17.  Apple iCloud

18.  GitHub

19.  Shutterfly

20.  Skype

Top Cloud Hyperconnectors in Healthcare

Healthcare organizations also increasingly use the cloud to collaborate with business partners. The average healthcare organization connects with 1,004 partners via cloud services. Not all cloud services are created equal and a handful drive an outsized
number of these partner connections. These cloud service “hyperconnectors” are helping healthcare organizations deliver better patient outcomes and control costs. The top cloud service categories used by healthcare organizations to connect with business partners include collaboration, file sharing, and customer service. The top partner categories that healthcare companies connect to are business services, high tech, financial services, and other healthcare companies.

 The Most Prolific Cloud User

The average employee uses 26 cloud services, which comes as a surprising to many in
IT. The average person may not even be able to name this many apps, since they fade into the background of everyday usage. However, there are employees whose cloud usage is even more prolific. The most prolific healthcare user across all employees in our study uses an impressive 444 cloud services including 97 collaboration services, 74 social media services, 28 healthcare services, and 25 file-sharing services. While their behavior may be done with good intensions, unchecked cloud usage can also expose healthcare organizations to risk.

Chances are, most of the services in use by this individual are not known to the IT department. Out of 444 services, 136 services they use are high-risk, or 30.6 percent. Across all cloud services in use globally, just 5.6% are high-risk, often because they lack proper security controls, have onerous terms and conditions that claim ownership of uploaded data, or they are hosted in high-risk countries without strong data protections. Among the high-risk services in use by this user are Convert OnlineFree, a service that converts Word documents to PDF, Mega, the notorious file sharing service run by Kim Dotcom, and Online OCR, a service that converts images to text.

About Skyhigh Networks

Skyhigh Networks, the cloud security and enablement company, helps enterprises safely adopt cloud services while meeting their security, compliance, and governance requirements. Over 400 enterprises including Aetna, Cisco, DIRECTV, HP, and Western Union use Skyhigh to gain visibility into all cloud services in use and their associated risk; analyze cloud usage to identify security breaches, compromised accounts, and insider threats; and seamlessly enforce security policies with encryption, data loss prevention, contextual access control, and activity monitoring. Headquartered in Campbell, Calif., Skyhigh Networks is backed by Greylock Partners, Sequoia, and


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