Is Your Data Secure? Addressing Cybersecurity in Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities are a goldmine of data — and a tempting target for cyberattacks. As cybercrime continues to increase in sophistication and prevalence, it’s more important than ever for medical facilities and health systems to boost their security and review their processes.

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Healthcare facilities manage tremendous amounts of sensitive data, making them a prime target for cybercriminals. As cybercrime continues to increase in both sophistication and prevalence, it’s more important than ever for medical facilities and health systems to boost their cybersecurity and review existing processes and procedures to identify potential points of risk. Here are some tips for keeping your email and networks safe.

Risk associated with sensitive healthcare data

According the HIPAA Journal’s June 2022 Healthcare Data Breach Report, 692 large healthcare data breaches occurred between July 2021 and June 2022, exposing the records of 42,431,699 individuals. In June 2022 alone, there were 70 breaches of 500 or more health records. Why are healthcare facilities such tempting targets for cybercriminals?

Cybercriminals love healthcare records and the data they contain. They can sell it on the dark web or use it to file fake insurance claims, buy prescriptions, or obtain medical care. Regrettably, many healthcare organizations are relatively easy targets. Staff members may lack appropriate knowledge and training to identify suspicious emails or activities, making them vulnerable to phishing attacks. Healthcare facilities may not have the IT personnel and resources to adequately protect individual computers and networks.

Healthcare organizations tend to be vulnerable to ransomware attacks because they have a history of paying cybercriminals in the event of a data breach, hoping to protect patient data. Additional cybersecurity threats may come from intentional or unintentional data exposure by staff members or patients who use connected medical devices in unprotected locations.

Protection of healthcare data

The sheer value of health data, combined with the frequency and ever-growing sophistication of cyberattacks, accentuates the need for strong cybersecurity measures at healthcare facilities and partner organizations with access to that data. Healthcare organizations must implement and maintain essential security solutions to protect their IT infrastructure and patient data, including:

  • Antivirus and antimalware software at the endpoints, including individual computing devices, mobile devices, and connected medical devices.
  • High-quality firewalls with a variety of security features.
  • Encrypted healthcare data, at rest and in transit.
  • Off-site data backup solutions.
  • Secure, compliant telehealth platforms.
  • Regular security assessments to mitigate security risks.

Cybersecurity through staff training

Investing in cybersecurity technologies and solutions is a great start, but it’s also essential to educate and train staff members on potential threats and security protocols. Simply put, your most effective cybersecurity strategy is education and training.
To shore up your cybersecurity processes and procedures, be sure to:

  • Educate staff members on the types of cyberattacks and risks associated with each. Knowledge is power — arm your employees with the information they need to identify suspicious emails or activities and the steps they should take to escalate those concerns to the appropriate stakeholders.
  • Mitigate risk by limiting access to data and applications to authorized personnel only.
  • Enforce strong user passwords and require staff to change them frequently.
  • Control physical access to the building and all computing devices.
  • Ensure remote and mobile devices are secure and limit their access to networks and patient data.

By combining strong security technologies, risk management policies, and regular training for staff at all levels of the organization, you can mitigate risk and reduce the threats to your data. One of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your heath data is to partner with a trusted resource — like TruBridge — to manage RCM tasks, data transfer and storage, HIPAA compliance, and telehealth services. Protecting your healthcare data is critical to the success, reputation, and security of your organization, staff members, and patients. TruBridge can help.