The use of any digital data comes with risks, and it is important that you understand what could happen to this data if you do not protect it against cyber attacks.
What is cyber security?
Think of patient data as a box of precious jewels. Cyber security requires multiple layers of protection to keep thieves and hackers from infiltrating it. If you had expensive jewels in a box, you would lock the box, then you might put it in a vault.
This vault may be locked inside a house, which is protected by a fence and gate. Think of cyber security as these many layers of protection and the jewels as your patient’s sensitive data.
Greatest risks in healthcare cybersecurity
Electronic medical records are being sold for top dollar on the black market. Names, DOBs, SSNs, policy numbers, and diagnosis codes can be used to create fake IDs, purchase medical equipment or medications, or file a claim with insurers. Since medical identity is much more complex than calling to cancel a credit card, these records are deemed more valuable to cyber-criminals.
Data breaches can happen due to sneaky hacking techniques, such as phishing. These scams occur when an email is sent to office personnel or patients, which often directs them to a mock website with a login screen to steal personal information.
Ransomware can also occur in the healthcare industry. This is where a hacker encrypts your entire system until you pay a large sum of money to retrieve the data. HIPAA regulations were created to keep all of this data safe, and you can risk major fines and even criminal offenses when these rules are violated.
Tips for cyber securing your practice
Be proactive, not reactive.
Prioritize cyber security, and plan your safety strategy. The best way to avoid issues is to have a plan in place for protection in advance, which can include some of the following recommendations.
Take strong passwords seriously.
You are only as secure as your weakest password. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to require strong passwords across the board. Hackers have numerous tools to steal your credentials, and their techniques grow more sophisticated daily.
You should avoid common words, and instead opt for random strings of characters. Consider also rolling out two-factor authentication, or “2FA.” This makes password theft nearly impossible, since it requires different login forms.
Backup your backup.
One of the most important parts of disaster recovery is your backups. A cloud-based backup is best in this situation. It is also important to back up your information regularly, perhaps daily.
You can make this part of the office closing daily routine, and talk to your cybersecurity team about automated backups. Work with an IT support team that offers a great cloud provider and is knowledgeable about HIPAA and security standards.
Train your entire team.
Cyber attacks can occur anytime. A great spam filter helps, but your team should be trained on what to look for and avoid. It also helps to explain the importance of all safety steps in the plan, and have regular checks and balances in place to ensure all steps are being followed.
Limit user access to what is necessary.
Sadly, the most common cause of a data breach is human error. Training the team on cyber security can drastically improve the odds, but that is not enough. Leadership needs to be aware of exactly who has access to what at all times.
Keep a list of everyone’s access, then minimize your list of users with access to important data to that which is absolutely necessary. Delete old users due to transfers or termination immediately.
Install trustworthy malware protection.
Do not overlook this simple step. Your IT support team can recommend the best, most frequently updated virus/malware protection.
For more information
You need a strong infrastructure for strong data protection. For more information, contact Scale Technology at (501) 213-3814 to speak with an IT professional.