With the increasing reliance on technology in the healthcare industry, the risk of cyberattacks on healthcare organizations is a growing concern. According to a report from the Ponemon Institute/IBM Security, healthcare data breaches are rising, with the average data breach cost now totaling $6.45 million in mitigation costs. To combat this growing threat, healthcare organizations must adopt best practices for cybersecurity. It is crucial for organizations to have strong cybersecurity defenses in place to protect against potential threats and to prevent sensitive information from being accessed or compromised. When it comes to cybersecurity, it is important for organizations to take a proactive approach and implement strong safeguards to protect against potential threats.
Healthcare cybersecurity refers to the measures and practices put in place to protect sensitive data and systems within the healthcare industry. With the increasing reliance on technology and the growing number of cyber threats, healthcare organizations need to implement robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard their patients’ information and prevent unauthorized access to their systems. Ensuring patient safety and care is of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry, and it requires a combination of effective clinical practices and robust cybersecurity measures to protect patient data and prevent unauthorized access or breaches. This article will discuss some of the best practices for data protection in the healthcare industry.
Why Is Cybersecurity Important in Healthcare?
The importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated, as it plays a vital role in protecting sensitive information and assets from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. Healthcare organizations are prime targets for cybersecurity threats and attacks because they deal with some of the most sensitive personal data. Cybercriminals can use this information to steal identities, blackmail people, and even sell medical records on the black market. Therefore, it is crucial for healthcare organizations to have robust cybersecurity measures in place.
Healthcare facilities are increasingly relying on technology to improve patient care and streamline operations, but this increased reliance on technology also introduces new cybersecurity risks that must be properly managed to ensure the security and privacy of patient data.
Healthcare data breaches cost companies millions of dollars annually, and the US Department of Health and Human Services has responded by making cybersecurity a top priority. Cybersecurity is essential in healthcare because it protects sensitive medical information from falling into the wrong hands. It also helps to ensure that patients’ health records remain confidential and secure. Adhering to cybersecurity standards is of the utmost importance to protect sensitive patient data and maintain the integrity of healthcare systems. Investing in strong cybersecurity measures is essential for any healthcare organization that values the safety and privacy of its patients.
Data breaches in healthcare can cause serious harm to both healthcare groups and individual patients. For example, when patient data is exposed, criminals could gain access to personal information such as Social Security numbers or financial details, leading to identity theft or fraud. Additionally, if protected health information (PHI) is compromised, it could lead to a breach of privacy for those affected by the attack. As a result, healthcare organizations must take all necessary steps to protect their systems from cyber threats, including malware, phishing attempts, ransomware attacks, and other malicious activity.
Cybersecurity risks pose a significant threat to the health system, and healthcare security is crucial to protect sensitive patient data. Healthcare cyberattacks are rising, and healthcare organizations must invest in cybersecurity tools and strategies to safeguard against these threats. However, many healthcare organizations need help to keep up with the constantly evolving landscape of cybersecurity. It’s essential for these organizations to continuously review and update their cybersecurity measures to stay ahead of potential attacks and ensure the security of their systems.
What are Some Common Challenges in Healthcare Cybersecurity?
There are many cybersecurity challenges facing the healthcare leaders, industry, and healthcare practitioners, including the need to protect sensitive patient data from unauthorized access or breaches, the growing threat of ransomware attacks, and the challenges of securing medical devices and other connected systems. One of the major challenges facing the healthcare industry is the need to ensure the security and privacy of patient data while also making it accessible to authorized individuals.
Protecting healthcare data is challenging because of the many vulnerabilities and means by which it can be accessed and stolen. If cybersecurity measures are not properly implemented and maintained, patient safety can be at risk by exposing sensitive medical information to unauthorized individuals, and increasing the likelihood of data breaches and cyber-attacks.
The main cybersecurity challenges are the volume and variety of data, the lack of security expertise in the healthcare industry, and the interconnectedness of medical devices. There are many different types of cybersecurity issues that organizations and individuals may encounter, including phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, and data breaches, which can all have serious consequences if not properly addressed.
The volume of data is enormous, and is constantly growing, which makes it difficult to track and protect all of the information. The variety of data includes electronic health records, images, research data, and financial information.
Several measures can be made to improve cybersecurity, such as: implementing strong passwords, regularly updating software and security protocols, training employees to recognize and report potential threats, and investing in security technologies like firewalls and antivirus software.
Healthcare organization’s cybersecurity must become more familiar with best practices for protecting data. Improving patient care is the primary goal of any healthcare organization while ensuring patient safety, like protecting their health data, is of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry. However, they can often be reluctant to implement new security measures because they can disrupt operations. Medical devices are interconnected and often used remotely, which makes them vulnerable to attack. There have been many cases of medical devices being hacked and patient information stolen. Therefore, the need for healthcare organizations to implement cybersecurity best practices is of paramount importance.
Healthcare Cybersecurity Best Practices
1. Create a Security Culture
One of the most important best practices is to create a security culture. A security culture is an environment where all individuals actively contribute to protecting sensitive data and information. It is essential to take proactive steps toward mitigating risks, which can be done by developing effective cybersecurity best practices.
As healthcare cybersecurity best practices are developed and implemented, organizations should focus on creating an environment of cyber safety by training staff and implementing procedures that will help keep sensitive information safe.
Security protocols must be an integral part of the organization’s operations. Security policies should be reviewed regularly, and healthcare workers should be informed and reminded periodically about the importance of following them. These actions can help create a security culture where individuals understand the importance of their role in securing data. Training sessions should also be conducted for employees to explain how to securely use new technologies, and how to spot any potential threats or suspicious activity.
Developing clear and precise cybersecurity guidelines is vital when creating a thriving security culture within any healthcare organization. These guidelines should address employee training, incident reporting and response procedures, data protection policies, and access control measures. Addressing these things helps ensure that employees are properly educated in their roles in maintaining the safety of organizational IT assets and systems. Doing so also helps ensure that all organization members understand the importance of implementing security procedures to minimize risks associated with cyber threats.
2. Protect Your Organization’s Mobile Devices, and Teach Your Employees to do the Same
As the use of mobile devices in healthcare has increased, so have the associated risks. Patient and healthcare data are stored on these devices, and a data breach through a mobile device could have serious consequences. That’s why taking some basic security measures to protect mobile devices is essential.
If a device is lost or stolen, sensitive patient information could be compromised. In addition, malicious software or hackers could gain access to devices through unprotected Wi-Fi networks or other means. Therefore, it is important to only download programs from reputable websites and use caution while disclosing sensitive information online. To contribute to the safety and security sensitive data, following a few straightforward safeguards could help. Consider implementing the following cybersecurity best practices:
- Encrypt all data on mobile devices
- Use strong passwords and passcodes
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks
- Install security software on all devices
- Keep all software up to date
3. Practice Good Computer and Internet Habits
One of the fundamental principles of good computer habits is proper training in recognizing phishing schemes and other social engineering tactics that can leave healthcare systems vulnerable. Healthcare organizations must maintain robust cybersecurity best practices to keep sensitive data secure while promoting good computer habits among employees.
Employees should be trained in spotting suspicious emails, links, or websites and have processes in place for reporting any suspicious activity. Additionally, policies should be put in place to restrict unauthorized access to confidential information such as passwords and personal data. Strong authentication measures like two-factor authentication can add an extra layer of security when accessing databases or other online resources.
4. Use a Firewall
Healthcare organizations can create barriers between their valuable data and the threats that lurk in cyberspace by using a firewall. Firewalls can protect an organization’s data by monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing traffic based on predetermined security rules.
Organizations must use firewalls as one of the core components of their cybersecurity strategy due to the increased number of cyberattacks targeting healthcare data. Firewalls help safeguard patient records, financial information, and other critical systems from malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerable networks. Firewall technology also provides secure remote access for authorized users, allowing them to connect safely without exposing sensitive information to potential attackers.
Examples include hardware firewalls, such as routers, that are installed at the entry point of a network and software firewalls—like Windows Defender Firewall—that can be installed on each device connected to the network. In addition to these two types, there are also cloud-based firewalls that protect against attacks originating in cloud computing environments.
Healthcare organizations should consult IT professionals or cybersecurity professionals for advice on selecting, deploying, and managing firewalls that best meet their needs. Healthcare cybersecurity professionals play a vital role in protecting patient data and ensuring the security of healthcare systems.
5. Install and Maintain Anti-Virus Software
One of the best ways to protect against these attacks is to install and maintain anti-virus software. According to SecurityScorecard, over the past year, malware has penetrated over 75% of the healthcare sector. This study looked at 700 healthcare firms, including hospitals, insurance companies, and medical equipment manufacturers.
Healthcare organizations should include anti-virus software in their cyber security strategy to protect patient records, employee data, and financial information from potential attackers. Additionally, anti-virus solutions help prevent suspicious ‘flagged’ activity so organizations can take steps to address any potential threats before they cause harm or damage.
Anti-virus software helps to detect and remove malicious software from the system and can be a valuable first line of defense against data breaches. It’s essential to keep the software up to date, as new security threats are constantly emerging. Anti-virus software identifies malicious code that can be used to disrupt operations and steal confidential information.
There are several anti-virus software examples used by healthcare services and organizations that can provide the necessary protection needed.
One of the most popular examples is McAfee Total Protection. An industry leader in providing anti-virus protection, McAfee Total Protection offers a range of features, including malware scanning and real-time security updates. It also offers privacy tools such as identity theft protection and password management to help protect sensitive patient data from unauthorized access. Another example of anti-virus software used by healthcare organizations is Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced.
6. Develop a Contingency Plan
A contingency plan is a prepared plan of action for an unforeseen event. It is a way to ensure that business operations can continue in the case of an emergency and that potential losses are minimized. It identifies potential threats and outlines strategies to prevent them from happening.
The first step when creating a contingency plan is to assess the organization’s existing IT infrastructure, which will help identify weak spots that need to be addressed. Policies and procedures that outline processes for responding quickly and efficiently to any breach or attack must be developed.
A contingency plan should be developed by businesses to anticipate any risks or challenges they may face in the future. A good plan typically considers natural disasters, power outages, system failures, personnel shortages, and market changes. The plan should be comprehensive and include steps on how to mitigate the risks, who will take responsibility for implementation, what resources will be required and what actions need to be taken to restore normal operations.
Managers must regularly review their contingency plans to ensure they are up to date with the organization’s current risks and threats.
7. Manage Access to Protected Health Information
Protected Health Information (PHI) is critically important for healthcare organizations to protect, and its usage needs to be managed appropriately. Access to PHI must be granted only to those who need it for their job roles or when the patient has given their consent. Organizations should have policies that clearly define who is allowed access and how they can use the information.
Healthcare organizations increasingly rely on software systems such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), enterprise resource planning systems, and secure messaging services to manage PHI and ensure only authorized personnel can access it. These systems may also include authentication measures such as passwords, biometric scans, or two-factor authentication that help protect the data from unauthorized access.
Organizations must take steps to immediately investigate any instances of unauthorized PHI access or disclosure if reported by employees or detected during routine monitoring activities. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires organizations handling PHI to restrict who has access to this sensitive information. Controlling who can view and use the data is essential in reducing the risk of a breach. Therefore, healthcare organizations should develop policies that grant employees only the necessary access to do their job effectively. Additionally, regular reviews should be conducted to ensure no unauthorized users are accessing PHI.
8. Use Strong Passwords and Change them Regularly
Creating a unique password that combines letters, numbers, symbols, and capitalized letters is an essential first step in protecting patient information. Further efforts should also include regularly changing these passwords every three months to prevent hackers from accessing networks or systems containing sensitive patient data.
Apps such as Bitwarden and 1Password offer features that allow healthcare organizations to generate secure passwords and store them in a vault for easy access. These apps also provide notifications when users need to update their passwords or someone else attempts to gain access without permission. Other security measures like two-factor authentication can be implemented for added protection. Healthcare organizations using cloud storage services can take advantage of encryption tools like Boxcryptor to defend against unauthorized access.
Healthcare organizations should encourage employees to use multi-factor authentication when logging into systems as an added layer of security beyond just passwords alone. Additionally, employees must create separate passwords for each account rather than reusing the same one across multiple sites or applications.
Organizations may choose to work with a cybersecurity vendor to help them assess and address their security needs, implement appropriate safeguards, and monitor for potential threats. These vendors may offer a range of services, such as penetration testing, security assessments, and managed security services.
9. Strictly Limit Network Access
Limiting network access strictly means ensuring that only authorized personnel are given access to critical systems and networks and any unnecessary access is removed. This should be done through a multi-layer approach, including stringent authentication protocols, password policies, and regular security checks.
Clear policies should be in place so that employees understand who is allowed access and when to use them. In addition, all users should have individualized accounts with unique passwords for added protection against unauthorized access.
Finally, role-based privilege escalation should also be implemented so that users are granted only the level of access required to do their job without jeopardizing network security. They should also review user accounts regularly by monitoring activity logs and flagging any suspicious activities or changes in behavior patterns.
10. Control Physical Access to Devices
To ensure a secure environment is to control physical access to devices that store sensitive data. Controlling physical access is an effective way for healthcare organizations to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing confidential or sensitive information stored on computers, servers, and other devices. It is essential for healthcare organizations to use strong passwords, biometric authentication measures such as fingerprint scanners, or other identity verification protocols to limit user access rights.
Additionally, restricting certain areas within the organization where these devices are located can help maintain security by minimizing the number of people with direct contact with them.
Highly Secure Remote Patient Monitoring Solutions by DrKumo
Remote patient monitoring is becoming increasingly popular in the healthcare industry, as it can help provide better care for patients while reducing costs. However, one of the biggest concerns with remote patient monitoring is ensuring that patient data remains safe and secure.
DrKumo has developed a comprehensive suite of cybersecurity solutions explicitly tailored to the healthcare industry, including encryption technology, two-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring. These features are designed to protect against potential cyber threats while providing convenient access to healthcare organizations and healthcare providers. Through DrKumo’s innovative platform, organizations can be confident that their sensitive data remains safe and secure on all levels.
Highly secure remote patient monitoring solutions are of utmost importance in today’s digital age, especially in the healthcare industry. As a cybersecurity firm that targets the healthcare industry, DrKumo understands the unique cybersecurity threats facing healthcare organizations. That’s why DrKumo has made it their mission to improve cybersecurity in healthcare. The impact of healthcare cybersecurity threats can be devastating, which is why it’s so crucial for healthcare organizations to make an investment in cybersecurity. DrKumo’s highly secure remote patient monitoring solutions are specifically designed to help healthcare organizations protect their patients’ data and ensure the security of their systems. By investing in the right cybersecurity solutions, healthcare organizations can protect themselves and their patients from the negative impact of cybersecurity threats.
Healthcare organizations should develop comprehensive cybersecurity plans to protect patient data. Implementing a robust cybersecurity program is an investment in protecting patients’ sensitive medical records and other data. Cybersecurity best practices that include network segmentation and employee training can significantly help strengthen security measures. Regular system updates are also essential for keeping up with the latest threats. By taking the appropriate steps to safeguard their networks, healthcare organizations can better defend against malicious actors.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help protect your organization against cyber threats.