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Cybersecurity During A Pandemic — And How Healthcare Workers Can Protect Themselves

By Josh Horwitz, COO, Enzoic.

Healthcare employees are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, in many cases working extended hours under extremely taxing circumstances in an effort to treat the growing number of infected patients. In this environment, it’s critical that everyone is cognizant of an unfortunate reality of our times: hackers are always looking for ways to capitalize on a crisis.

As Forbes’ Thomas Brewster put it, the last few weeks have seen “…an avalanche of digital threats piggybacking on the coronavirus pandemic,” and these are only likely to increase as the international community continues to grapple with the virus. With scams ranging the gamut from a coronavirus tracker that installs malware onto visitors’ devices to takeover of teleconferencing software to fraudulent company discounts or services related to the coronavirus, there is no shortage of ways bad actors are seeking to exploit consumers’ fear and confusion.

As such, it’s important that hospitals and healthcare institutions help employees safeguard their data and ensure they are cognizant of the increased security threats associated with the pandemic. Following are a few tips to consider:

In addition to the considerations outlined above, it’s also important that healthcare employees keep an eye on the evolving cybersecurity landscape as it relates to the pandemic. It’s likely that hackers will continue to find new ways to exploit the situation for their own nefarious purposes. As employees work diligently to combat coronavirus, it’s essential that hospitals remind them to keep their personal information safe.

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Why Employee Password Practices Might Be Your Security Missing Link

By Michael Greene, CEO, Enzoic.

Michael Greene

With the healthcare sector a top target of hackers, cybersecurity and privacy are of paramount concern—so much so that HIMSS20 has dedicated an entire track to the topic. According to its description, “Every organization must respect and maintain the privacy and security of patient information, no matter how small or large and no matter where they are located.”

While cybersecurity is clearly a primary area of focus, the frequency of attacks on healthcare institutions is on the rise—the HIPAA Journal found that the equivalent of 50% of the U.S. population has been affected by data breaches over the past decade. While there are several reasons healthcare institutions continue to fall prey to attacks, one of the most common ones may surprise you: employee password reuse and password sharing.

Risk Rises with Password Reuse

Most healthcare workers know better than to reuse passwords across multiple sites and applications.  Still, this security best practice is often overlooked in the name of convenience and the urgency associated with providing high-quality care. However, password reuse puts the entire organization at risk when an unrelated third party is breached, as cybercriminals can easily obtain breached or leaked credentials via the Dark Web and use them against other online accounts or systems.

With breaches occurring on a daily basis, hackers can select from an unlimited supply of newly compromised passwords. If even just a handful of your employees reuse passwords across applications and accounts, it won’t be long before hackers leverage this password faux-pas for their own advantage. And if your organization is anything like the average company, it’s likely that password reuse is also pervasive. According to Google, at least 65% of people use the same password for multiple, if not all, sites and systems.

Password Sharing Increases Vulnerabilities

When every second counts in administering critical care, the last thing hospital staff have time for is issues with login. For this reason, many healthcare workers will share credentials, with 74% of respondents in one study admitting they had obtained a colleague’s password. The researchers state, “Apart from…large-scale mistakes and malicious acts… one of the most common breaches of PHI is the use of another’s credentials to access patient information, i.e., the use of the EMR password of one medical staff member by another.”

It’s easy to understand why healthcare workers would default to this practice, but it’s equally easy to visualize how password sharing substantially increases security vulnerabilities.

With threats inherent in everything from:

It’s evident that hospitals cannot afford the risks associated with password sharing.

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