Why Data Security Is The Biggest Concern of Healthcare and How to Fix It?

Are you aware that healthcare is the most-affected industry by data breaches?

A report stated that over 60% of personal data breaches in 2019 were caused by human error, and the healthcare sector was the most affected.

And according to another report, data breaches cost healthcare providers$6.45 million on average.

Healthcare organizations save a large number of patient data containing sensitive information, making them a target for hackers. One of the common reasons why healthcare organizations are being hacked is because they have access to the personal information of many patients. 

But this is not a standalone reason. Other data security challenges like healthcare ransomware, unsecured mobile devices, lost and stolen mobile devices, theft of IT or corporate data, low cybersecurity awareness, use of outdated software systems, and adoption of cloud technology in healthcare are plaguing the healthcare industry today.

Data security is, without a doubt, one of the biggest concerns of healthcare. And luckily, there are ways to fix it. Let’s look at some of the ways.

Create Awareness and Provide Training

In one study conducted by HIMSS Analytics, it was reported that a lack of employee education and awareness are the main healthcare data security concerns.

What should be done to fix it? Communicate time and again with your team and let them know how important it is to protect patients’ health information. Guide them to comply with and implement privacy and security policies and procedures.

While offering training, apply different training tools, such as classroom training, computer-based training, monthly newsletters, email alerts, and group discussions. Ensure to conduct regular training, bi-annually, or give monthly security updates.

It is also important not to have one size fits all approach – train at all levels. Also, keep in mind that different employees will have a different understanding when it comes to cybersecurity.

Update Software and Stop Unauthorized Software Installation

As per reports provided by Verizon’s healthcare cyber-attacks 2018 data, human error was the cause of 21% of breaches. Not updating your software in time can be considered as a human error.

Never use outdated operating systems, consumer-grade routers, and basic backup systems. Also, avoid offering unsecured guest networks for patients and visitors.

If you use modern software and equipment and make it a habit to update software, systems, and apps, it will considerably help in safeguarding your data from cybercriminals. 

Since outdated software has antiquated features and missing protections, it puts your data at high risk against new bugs and cyberattacks.

Also, make sure that you are not installing unauthorized software as malware and ransomware are highly prevalent. It is not worth the risk.

Install an SSL Certificate 

When you install an SSL certificate, you can rest assured that the server-client communication is protected. SSL is responsible for encrypting every bit of information. Thus, it is vital when dealing with sensitive data such as IDs, passwords, and credit card numbers.

An SSL certificate can also provide authentication to your website. Users undergo a validation process set by an independent third party called a Certificate Authority before installation to verify your identity. 

Only after the verification process, you get trust indicators like security padlocks and trust seals that guarantee your integrity. No wonder, a site that uses SSL certificates gets more visitors as it is deemed as secure.

Just ensure that the CA issuing the certificate is reputable. Go for authenticated CAs like Comodo, GlobalSign, Thawte, etc. For instance, a cheapest SSL certificate can not only provide encryption to your data, but a trusted site seal to authenticate your website. It assures customers that their data is safe from prying eyes.

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Image source: thawte.com

Secure Mobile Devices

Do your healthcare facilities allow mobile logins? Ensure that the mobile used by employees to log in meets security standards. Unsecure mobiles leave networks vulnerable to malware and hackers.

A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute found out that over 88% of healthcare organizations allow employees and medical staff to utilize personal mobile devices. And these organizations have less control over whether these mobile device users adopt security measures before connecting to sources of confidential data or remove high-risk mobile applications before accessing the system.

The number of healthcare-related mobile data breaches is huge, and the lack of regulations governing the security poses a threat. 

Here are some of the best practices for mobile security: 

  • Execute user authentication controls
  • Apply the remote and automatic lock and wipe features as it will come of help when a device is lost or stolen
  • Install security programs
  • Use encryption
  • Develop an application policy
  • And encourage regular updates.

If you follow these practices, you can stay assured and avoid so many troubles when it comes to your mobile security.

Use Strong Passwords

Billions of passwords have been hacked. The reason? A lack of strong passwords. Employees in healthcare organizations are often required to have multiple passwords for email and networks. They are even asked to come up with new passwords every few weeks.

Thus, it leads to many staff members generating weak passwords. Some even use the same password for several credentials.

Now, if you look at the stats, passwords are responsible for 80% of hacking-related breaches. Therefore, it is crucial to use strong passwords and change them regularly so that criminals can’t hack them.

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Image source: www.wikihow.tech

Encourage your employees to use password manager tools as they can stop hacking attempts. Also, use multifactor authentication. 

Conduct regular evaluation and auditing

Security is always evolving. It is not something you can become complacent with. Evaluate your policy and procedure regularly and critically assess them to determine what is working well, what needs to improve, and how you might proceed in tightening the security. 

You can conduct internal or external audits. It will depend on your practice’s size and resources.

Wrapping Up

Since healthcare is one of the most affected sectors by cyberthreats, it is crucial that you take up measures to strengthen your security.

Remember that implementing only one or a few steps will not guarantee the safety of your data. Just as there is new technology coming up every day to improve cybersecurity, cybercriminals are using the most advanced tools in carrying out their hacking attempts.

Ensure that you take every possible measure to safeguard the personal information of your patients in your healthcare organization.

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