How to address cybersecurity issues in healthcare

How to address cybersecurity issues in healthcare

The healthcare industry is a minefield of confidential and sensitive data. Personally identifiable information such as phone numbers, home addresses, medical history, and financial records make healthcare providers an ideal target for cybercriminals because those types of data have “street” value when sold over the dark web.

The biggest challenge that the healthcare IT industry faces in 2019 is protecting electronic personal health information (ePHI), especially since mobile devices have become indispensable tools for delivering care to patients. In fact, Healthcare ITNews reported that this year will see three major cybersecurity threats: cyberattacks on mobile devices, data breaches in the cloud, and ransomware. If you work in the healthcare industry, read on to find out how you can prevent those threats.

Ransomware or malware

Ransomware is a type of malicious software or malware crafted and deployed by cybercriminals. It freezes, infects, or takes control over a system to extort money from the owner in exchange for regained control. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware was the leading type of malware, found in 39% of cases that involve malware attacks.

This year, it is projected that ransomware combined with phishing scams will be a common attack. In phishing scams, a user receives a deceptive email and is lured into clicking on a link that leads to a malicious website. Victims are often enticed with a “money-back guarantee” or free products or services in exchange for financial or personal information.

To prevent a ransomware attack, encourage your staff to engage in security awareness training, have properly set-up firewalls, consult an IT expert, and adopt a culture of vigilance on data protection.

Compliance and mobile devices

It’s crucial to have a robust information communication training (ICT) that is ultra-secure. There are cybersecurity standards such as those from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established to protect electronic health records (EHRs) on mobile devices to safeguard clients and healthcare providers.

Risks attributed to using mobile devices include data loss when the gadget is either lost, stolen, or left unlocked by a negligent user. These oversights can result in painful reputational damage and up to $1.5 million in penalties for violating HIPAA mandates. Here are some basics that any non-IT staff can do to help cover your organization from a possible cyberattack and compliance violation.

Encryption. This preventive method converts sensitive information into unreadable formats to hide it from unauthorized viewers. Only the intended recipient and authorized user can decode it back to its readable format with a decryption key.

It’s not always necessary for archived files (known as “data at rest”) to be encrypted since they’re rarely accessed or shared. However, ePHI that is transmitted (known as “data in transit”) must be encrypted at all times since it operates in cyberspace where hackers can intercept it. It is a violation of HIPAA rules to send ePHI across open and public networks since they are not secure, and the probability of data being intercepted is quite high.

User authorization. Assigning unique user identifiers allows you to monitor unauthorized users and block them from trying to access ePHI. This helps meet compliance rules on secure messaging protocols. Using two-factor authentication and biometrics are examples of identity-based authentication methods that add security on the end-user level.

Data breach in the cloud

Healthcare cloud security is one of the growing concerns in patient care. The anywhere-access that cloud users enjoy is perfectly suited for dealing with medical emergencies. However, when cloud security isn’t managed by a team of experts, there are far too many opportunities for hackers to infiltrate an organization’s systems.

Working with IT professionals that understand your cloud solution needs is the best route to ensure HIPAA compliance and up-to-date cybersecurity. Sabio Information Technologies have cloud-based solutions that are fit for your medical practice, regardless of your organization’s size.

Ensuring that your healthcare-IT environment is secure and compliant helps keep your patients’ information intact and allows you to focus on your their welfare. To learn more about mitigating cyber risks, contact us today!

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