The healthcare sector operates enormous data assets, a prime target for cyber-criminals. A single breach could set back medical research and jeopardize patient health.
- Invest in Encryption
Healthcare systems need to invest in encryption to strengthen data protection. This is because the sensitive and confidential information in medical files makes them a favorite target for hackers. Breaches involving healthcare are costly, and they can compromise patients’ privacy.
Cyberattacks in the healthcare industry have spiked. Ransomware attacks are common, and they can threaten the operations of a facility. Hackers can hold the health organization hostage until money is paid. In addition, ransomware can cause downtime in medical system networks, resulting in a loss of efficiency.
Another hazard to cybersecurity in healthcare is a lack of endpoint protection, which malware can exploit. Medical practices must implement endpoint security for all devices accessing PHI, including employee-owned smartphones and tablets. It’s also important to have daily backups of all healthcare information systems in case of a disaster.
In addition to implementing stronger data protection technologies, healthcare organizations must provide staff with additional cybersecurity training to help them understand how to protect patient data.
This includes educating employees on phishing attacks, social engineering tactics, and other common breach points that can occur due to human error or negligence. The good news is that many of the top threats to healthcare data can be eliminated or mitigated with the right tools.
- Implement Access Controls
While encryption is a great solution to help secure healthcare data, access controls are also essential. This includes the ability to limit access by role and responsibilities. This helps ensure that healthcare employees only have access to the necessary information and prevents unauthorized individuals from getting in.
The healthcare industry’s dependence on digital technology and connectivity creates several security risks. These include a growing threat from ransomware, an attack where cyber criminals encrypt a victim’s data or systems and refuse to give the victim access until a ransom is paid.
Additionally, a healthcare organization may face risks from unsecured remote-access devices, making it easier for attackers to access PHI. These devices are commonly found in hospitals and are often a vulnerable point of entry to the network.
Lastly, healthcare workers can risk being lured into clicking on phishing links or falling victim to social engineering attacks. This could result in malware being installed on a system or an employee accidentally revealing sensitive information that allows a hacker to gain initial access to the network.
Healthcare organizations must establish robust security policies and protocols to mitigate these issues. This should require all vendors, partners, and subcontractors to provide satisfactory assurances to protect healthcare data. Moreover, a healthcare organization should have offsite backups that can be restored quickly during a cybersecurity incident or disaster.
- Invest in Monitoring
Healthcare is a data-driven industry, and care delivery relies on digital infrastructure – from telehealth platforms to EHRs that store patient data and drive care workflows. But the rise of connected devices, including pacemakers and monitoring tools, puts healthcare organizations at a higher risk for cyberattacks.
Healthcare employees also use their devices to access and send medical information, making these systems even more vulnerable. Organizations must implement policies for the use of mobile devices and ensure wireless network infrastructure and internal/ external messaging systems meet minimum compliance requirements to avoid exposing PHI.
It’s also important to conduct regular risk assessments to test security protocols and ensure that all devices and connections are secure. Using solutions that provide visibility to the full inventory of devices on the network and running vulnerability tests continuously can help prevent healthcare data breaches and protect patients’ privacy.
Healthcare has much at stake, and cyberattacks threaten patients’ health and safety. Organizations must strengthen their data protection and prioritize cybersecurity for every aspect of their business.
- Invest in Training
Healthcare data is often sensitive and private, making it a target for hackers and other cybercriminals. The resulting security breaches can put patients’ privacy at risk, lead to fines from compliance agencies, and cause long-lasting damage to hospitals’ and health systems’ reputations.
Violations can also bring operations to a halt and jeopardize patient care. Performing ongoing risk assessments, which HIPAA regulations require, can help organizations identify and address weak points in their cybersecurity and avoid costly security incidents.
As cybersecurity experts point out, human error is the number one reason computer systems are breached. Untrained workers may accidentally open malware-laden emails, expose computer systems to viruses, or leave sensitive information unsecured. To reduce the chances of such errors, healthcare workers should undergo regular training on cybersecurity policies and other best practices.
They should also learn to recognize cybercriminals’ techniques to plant ransomware in healthcare systems and commit other crimes. This will help them protect data, prevent phishing attacks, and secure their workplaces. As a result, they will be more prepared to respond quickly and appropriately when a security incident does occur.