Healthcare organizations are in a unique situation of being exposed to increased risks from cyber attacks and the impacts of healthcare industry-specific regulations. And it all centers around how you handle and protect patient data.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are constantly finding new and innovative ways to infiltrate health and human services. And that can expose your business not only to a data breach but severe regulatory compliance penalties and fines.
To help you better understand why this is such a unique problem, we’ve put together this up-to-date guide to cyber security measures for healthcare facilities.
IT SECURITY THREATS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA SECURITY FOR HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS
Security threats are a very real issue every business faces. However, as a healthcare provider, the information on patient records you have is far more confidential. And because of this, more data thieves actively attempt to break past the firewall of your healthcare organization.
In order to keep the medical data of your business and your clients safe, you need to take healthcare data risk factors very seriously. Here are some of the top IT security threats and how they could impact your sensitive data.
Ransomware has evolved over the years to become a major threat to all healthcare providers. It works its way onto your network the same way as any other phishing or spyware software.
However, instead of leeching onto a file somewhere on your network and sending the data back to an offsite host, it springs into action and completely locks down your entire network. It then threatens further damage to your network unless you pay a ransom.
Many people and healthcare organizations who have fallen under this kind of attack have simply paid the ransom, which is not recommended. Oftentimes the ransomware will simply install another virus that will pounce a few days later.
Or it leaves traces of other phishing software on your network.
There are a few ways you can go about combating ransomware if it has attacked your office. The first step is to completely disconnect from the Internet. However, as a healthcare provider, this is a challenge. Especially if you have IoT devices connected that need to be up and running.
The importance of sensitive data security solutions in healthcare organizations shows a single ransomware attack can completely take down your network and force you to reschedule patients until the issue has been resolved.
Ransomware and other phishing malware can make their way onto your network using a number of avenues. One of the most common is employees actually opening the front door and letting them in.
This is done by opening corrupted emails and visiting websites that have been infected with ransomware. Other methods of insertion common in healthcare organizations include bypassing the system firewall a few bits of patient data at a time.
The information then slowly builds itself up, and when the final bit of data bypasses the firewall, it launches onto your network.
As there are a number of ways to infect your network, it is important to protect it and block out every possible threat. The best way to do this is to sit down and talk about healthcare information security with an IT security service provider such as Charlotte IT Solutions.
Each office needs to have its own defense, as there is never a one-size-fits-all approach in the healthcare industry.
As technology improves, so too does your reliance on it. Chances are, in just the last few years alone, you’ve started to access client records on tablets and smartphones. And you may have other systems, depending on the kind of healthcare service your business provides, connected to the Internet or a cloud network.
No matter what kind of device it is, whether it is a traditional, Internet-connected device or an Internet of Things (IoT) device, such as a dental scanner, X-ray machine, or anything else that connects to the Internet to share data, all of this equipment is a potential target for accessing health information.
In fact, IoT devices have become a top target in many healthcare organizations for skilled hackers. This is because IoT devices often do not receive the same kind of security protection as a computer or tablet.
Yet, as it is connected to your cloud network, a hacker can basically wiggle through the backdoor of your security and into the network through the IoT device.
In order to prevent this, it is of critical importance to protect not only your health information devices, such as a computer or tablet but your IoT devices as well. The best way to do this is to have a complete tech audit of your office.
This will help identify vulnerabilities within your office. And from there, an IT security provider can help pinpoint the best ways to go about protecting your healthcare organization. After all, your IT security is only as strong as the weakest link.
Healthcare data security solutions are of high priority throughout the healthcare industry. That is why there are Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA) compliance regulations designed for consumer safety.
Healthcare information security is, in many ways, more vital than any other industry, as it not only contains the financial records of a patient but their extensive medical background. It is important for your healthcare office to remain HIPAA compliant, as this will help nullify many of the top data security risks.
In order to not only meet but surpass the HIPAA Compliance requirements, it is important to stay on top of your healthcare data security solutions. With every software update or a new piece of equipment, you put the data of your office and that of your patients at risk.
In order to maintain the highest level of security possible, you need to have a healthcare cybersecurity system in place that helps upgrade and update your system whenever new software or hardware comes into the office.
Even something as simple as an operating system update can expose cracks in your security system, which puts your office at risk.
It is extremely easy to fall behind on your security protocol, all without knowing you have fallen behind. Should this happen, it’s possible that an external healthcare cybersecurity threat has already started to siphon off secure documents without you even knowing about it.
To avoid this kind of situation, you need to partner with an IT security service provider that not only offers top-of-the-line security measures but is well-versed in the world of healthcare information security.
Protecting a healthcare service provider is, in many ways, different from all other lines of work.
DATA PROTECTION FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS
Whenever dealing with a person’s electronic health records, your patient data protection in healthcare needs to be second to none. This goes beyond the network security measures taken for financial information or other personal info.
The loss of patient records through a leak, breach, or any other way can leave patients exposed and completely vulnerable. It also can lead to that patient bringing a lawsuit against your practice. Not to mention the temporary loss of your practice’s ability to provide medical services until you correct the security problem.
All of this is both expensive and potentially devastating for healthcare organizations. That is why it is critical to take data protection in healthcare seriously. And it isn’t something you should be attempting to do on your own.
It takes the knowledge and expertise of an IT service provider to ensure you and your patients are taken care of. To help illustrate this importance, here is what you need to know about patient data protection in healthcare.
Most healthcare providers take data security solutions seriously. However, as is the case with any other industry, network security is only as good as the weakest link.
The problem here is if you attempt to implement your own network security without the aid of an IT professional, you may not realize just how exposed you are, making you stand out as an easy target among all healthcare organizations.
Mobile security is one major area of concern.
It is possible for doctors and other staff members in your office to access files and other data designed to help treat patients. In fact, mobile healthcare services are one of the largest growing areas of the industry.
It’s also a major culprit for hacks and breaches. Oftentimes mobile applications are not adequately protected or integrated into the office’s firewall.
It is critical to prevent external access to smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices. This is why specific security measures need to be implemented on all devices. And it should include multi-factor authentication (MFA).
This not only helps protect against Internet-based threats but also in the event a phone is misplaced or lost.
Just like using a computer system on the office network, there is some common sense involved with mobile device security.
Your employees should not be using an office computer to access personal emails. Opening an email attachment from an unknown source can lead to accidentally downloading viruses and malware. The same can happen with a cell phone or tablet.
The combination of common sense and IT services adding additional protection on mobile devices will help prevent these kinds of threats to sensitive health information.
CONSTANT RISK ASSESSMENT
Threats to healthcare organizations evolve in real-time. Hackers are always looking for an entry point into an otherwise protected network. If they identify a potential opening, they will adjust and evolve to better move past your network security.
This means your network security needs to evolve as well. The best way to do this is to constantly assess your network’s security risks. And the best way to avoid hacks and patient health information loss is to identify the problem areas before cyber thieves do. While this may seem like a never-ending battle (in a way, it is), you have the upper hand because you’re working from the inside.
With the help of an IT professional, they will already know what kind of security measures are in place. They can also monitor how external threats try to break through and then make the necessary adjustments to access patient data.
This allows your healthcare data security solutions to stay at least one step ahead. However, the only way data protection in healthcare will remain ahead of these threats is if an IT service provider performs these regular risk assessments.
PATIENT DATA ENCRYPTION
This is a must-have solution. You need to encrypt every bit of healthcare information you have, as it acts as a final level of defense against data thieves. This way, even if criminals manage to sneak in past your current defensive setup and siphon off some information, they won’t be able to crack into the patient data.
It is also important to point out that while HIPAA does issue penalties for the loss of healthcare data, it will not penalize you or implement different sanctions if the data lost was encrypted.
Due to this, encrypting the files will not only prevent the loss of confidential health information but will also protect your practice from fines and other actions handed out by HIPAA.
This is another area of your business you may not think to protect. Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices that connect to the Internet, such as printers, appliances, and other devices that do not give you Internet access but do run off of the cloud and other network connections, making it possible for you to control the device via WiFi.
As stated earlier, your network security is only as good as the weakest link. Yet far too many healthcare organizations do not cover their IoT devices under the breadth of their security measures. If you fail to do this, you’ll put all of your healthcare data files at risk.
TAKE THE NEXT MOVE AND PROTECT YOUR CLIENT’S HEALTHCARE DATA
With your business in the healthcare industry, it is crucial to do everything in your power to protect the company and patient information.
You are a prime target for data breaches as if they manage to get past your network security, they will gain access to not only personal data but medical information, financial documentation, insurance accounts, and a host of other confidential documentation. With the severity of these kinds of data breaches, you need to do what you can to protect sensitive health information.
The best way to do this is to take advantage of the services provided by Charlotte IT Solutions.
Charlotte IT Solutions specializes in data protection in the healthcare industry, so whether you are a vision specialist, a dental office, or sell medical equipment to patients, the company understands the industry and what it takes to protect patient and client data.
To take network security and data protection seriously, now is the time to give Charlotte IT Solutions a call.