How to Enhance Healthcare Cybersecurity
As technology continues to grow and thrive in the modern society, it has become increasingly clear that cybersecurity is also becoming a risk factor in many industries especially in healthcare.
Recent studies show that data breaches cost the healthcare industry approximately $5.6 billion every year. Additionally, it was also discovered that there was an average of at least one health data breach per day since 2016, attacks that affected more than 27 million patient records.
In a whitepaper entitled The Rampant Growth of Cybercrime in Healthcare, health IT advisor organization Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) reported that cybercriminals are becoming hard to avoid, even the attacks are becoming increasingly difficult to identify, prevent and mitigate.
“Chronic underinvestment in cybersecurity has left many so exposed that they are unable to even detect cyberattacks when they occur,” the report stressed. “While attackers may compromise an organization within a matter of seconds or minutes, it often takes many more weeks – if not months – before the breach is detected, damage is contained and defensive resources are deployed to prevent the same attack from happening again.”
As business and other industries seek more preventive measures to protect their patient information from imminent online threats, demand for a reliable internet security that can address state of healthcare industry cybersecurity is also on the rise.
Cybersecurity challenges in health care
The recent developments in the world of cyber vulnerabilities are not the only biggest cyber threat in businesses. According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, it has been concluded that most breaches are about financial opportunism, and attackers usually take the easiest route to obtain the data they need.
Another growing threat in healthcare security that needs to be addressed is found in medical devices. As pacemakers and other medical equipment are connected to the internet, they face the same vulnerabilities as other computer systems. To ensure patient safety, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommended that both the manufacturer that creates the device and the healthcare facility that implants it take preventive security measures.
Strategies for improving cybersecurity
Due to the significant financial impact of data breaches in healthcare, health professionals in partnership with digital security software have taken the most important role in ensuring that medical organizations remain secure.
According to HealthIT.gov, individual health care organizations can ramp up their cybersecurity by implementing the following practices:
• Establish a security culture. Conducting cybersecurity training and education can help ensure that every member of the organization knows how to protect patient data, creating a culture of security.
• Protect mobile devices. An increasing number of healthcare providers are using mobile devices at work. Encryption and other protective measures are vital to guarantee that any information on these devices is secure.
• Maintain good computer habits. New employee onboarding should include training on best practices for computer use, including software and operating system maintenance.
• Use a firewall. Anything connected to the internet should have an enabled firewall.
• Install and maintain anti-virus software. Simply installing anti-virus software is not enough. Constant updates must be done regularly to ensure health care systems receive the best possible protection at any given time.
• Plan for the unexpected. Files should be backed up on a regular basis for quick and easy data restoration. Organizations should store this backed-up information away from the main system if possible.
• Control access to protected health information. Access to protected information should be granted to only those who need to view or use the data.
• Use strong passwords and change them regularly. The Verizon report found that 63 percent of confirmed data breaches involved taking advantage of passwords that were the default, weak or stolen. As such, healthcare employees should not only use strong passwords, but ensure they change it regularly.
• Limit network access. Any software, applications, and other additions to existing systems should not be installed by staff without asking for permission from the proper organizational authorities.
• Control physical access. Data can also be compromised when physical devices are stolen. Computers and other electronic devices that contain sensitive information should be kept in locked rooms in secure areas.
In addition to these recommendations, health data professionals are continually developing new strategies and best practices to ensure the safety of sensitive health data, protecting both the patient and organization from financial loss and other forms of harm.
Ultimate Technical Solutions Inc. is a full-service Information Technology company based in Louisiana. Our team of experts only uses the best technology to support your organization’s current needs and future goals. In addition, we help ensure that proper cybersecurity measures are put into place and regulations are met. Contact us today at (504) 370-2102 for more information about the services we offer.