With new threats and challenges emerging in the digital world every day, maintaining optimal IT security has become a daunting task for any organization. More than ever before, healthcare organizations are feeling the heat from regulators regarding cyber security. In this blog post, we look at some of the top healthcare IT security tips you should know to keep your organization safe from cyberattacks.
With more than one billion records being compromised every year, data privacy and protection is a topic that cannot be ignored anymore by any organization without risking its reputation significantly. Considering how many patient records are digitized these days, it’s not surprising that hackers are increasingly targeting healthcare companies with ransomware attacks or other ways to get access to confidential information.
Know Your Employees And Monitor Behavior
Healthcare organizations often deal with extremely sensitive data, and thus it’s important that your employees are aware of what information is private and what information can be shared publicly. It’s also important to keep an eye on how your employees are using their devices at work.
If you notice that someone is downloading files from the network that they shouldn’t be accessing, it might be an indication of malicious behavior. It’s also important to keep an eye on the devices your employees are using. If your organization has BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, it’s important to make sure that those devices are secured against malware or other threats.
Ensure Strong Passwords And Network Security
While there are many different ways for cybercriminals to break into your network, weak passwords remain a commonly exploited vulnerability. It’s important to make sure that your employees are using strong passwords containing a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
To avoid having to reset passwords on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to suggest the use of password managers. Another important network security tip is to implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for all critical systems. This will help to prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data.
Today, the average cost of a healthcare data breach is $429 per record. When organizations factor in the loss of productivity, the amount of civil complaints and fines levied, plus the public relations besmirching, the cost implications skyrocket. In 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights concluded a record year in HIPAA enforcement activity – 10 settlement cases and one judgment totaled a whopping $28.7 million.
Though every industry is susceptible to cyberattacks, healthcare has experienced the largest growth in attacks over the years because patient records, insurance information, and social security numbers are more valuable on the dark web. Unfortunately, legacy systems may to be blame for the uptick in cyberattacks. Forescout researchers determined 53% of common medical devices are still operating on traditional, legacy platforms.
Legacy systems, insufficient access controls, and the proliferation of medical IoT devices have created security vulnerabilities that leave hospitals wide open to cyberattacks. Research from Vectra found that the majority of legacy systems are unsecured because healthcare organizations simply can’t afford the amount of downtime that patching requires.
To guarantee that unstructured data is transmitted securely, healthcare organizations must extend their analog fax machines to a hybrid-cloud network that is HIPAA complaint and provides end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and direct faxing capabilities.
By leveraging the cloud and delivering all faxes via HTTPS, outdated fax boards, media gateways, and the complex telephony stack are eliminated. Unlike a legacy analog fax infrastructure, hybrid cloud technology can ensure that time-sensitive protected health information (PHI) are delivered within seconds with high-resolution, near-diagnostic image quality, and the highest levels of encryption. The accessibility of fax, coupled with the scalability of the cloud, ensures the exchange of PHI among the healthcare ecosystem is protected. This allows patients to receive high-quality care without compromising their personal information.
Guest post by Ben Oster, product manager, AvePoint.
Balancing the strategic needs of a business with the user-friendliness of its systems is a daily struggle for IT pros in every industry. But for healthcare organizations, safeguarding the data living in these systems can be especially daunting. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, healthcare is a minefield for various security hazards. Within the last two years, 89 percent of healthcare organizations experienced at least one data breach that resulted in the loss of patient data. As healthcare businesses and the patients they serve adopt a mobile-first approach, providers must strike a balance between innovation and risk to prevent patient data (and internal information) from falling into the wrong hands.
The use of mobile devices and apps certainly enhance patient-provider relationships, but these complex information systems present new concerns surrounding compliance, security, and privacy. As employees and patients increasingly adopt smartphones, tablets, and cloud-based software into their daily lives, healthcare leaders must prioritize users’ needs while mitigating security risks. Mastering this dynamic requires healthcare companies to balance mobility trends like BYOD and cloud computing with regulatory requirements like HIPAA.
To lower the risk of data breaches, healthcare organizations need to defend their systems by identifying, reporting on, and safeguarding sensitive data. Here are a few steps the healthcare industry can take to join the mobile revolution without compromising security:
Start with discovery – Traditionally, healthcare organizations have taken a “security through obscurity” approach to protecting data. In other words, relying on the ambiguity of the data in their systems to ward off malicious attacks and breaches. But as technology emerges that personalizes patients’ end-user experience – such as online patient portals and electronic medical records – the less obscure healthcare organizations’ data becomes. With patients and medical staff accessing this data through a range of devices and workflows, knowing precisely what content exists in a healthcare organization’s infrastructure is essential to security. That’s why discovery is the first step to safeguarding content. Healthcare IT teams should also roll out internal classification schemas to determine which user groups need access to this data. By categorizing content based on these factors, healthcare companies can lay the framework for a truly secure system.