Cybersecurity measures are essential in protecting organizations against all kinds of cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is now more important in the healthcare industry than ever because digital technology is transforming this sector.
Digitization has improved healthcare through task automation which leads to cost-cutting and increased productivity. However, it has also come with other challenges in keeping data safe.
Data in the healthcare sector include patient information also known as PHI. ePHI (electronic protected health information) is sensitive and organizations must protect them against unauthorized access.
Doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare workers use electronic systems to access and manage health data. Cybercriminals also target the same health information. They carry out cyberattacks on medical infrastructure.
These attacks are costly and affect millions of people. The largest data breach in healthcare affected 78.8 million people.
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Table of Contents
Why Criminals Target Health Information
Medical information has high monetary value. That is why it’s a target for cybercriminals.
Health medical records include sensitive data like credit card information, bank details, social security data, and other confidential information. This makes medical information 10 to 40 times more valuable than credit numbers on the black market.
What Are the Biggest Cyberattack Concerns in Healthcare?
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Medical health records are sensitive. Ensuring their security has unique challenges. For example, once sensitive medical information leaks or ends up in the wrong hands, you cannot cancel it.
Exposure of such personal medical records without a patient’s consent is a violation of privacy. It might come with serious consequences. Failure in medical record systems can also cause such problems.
Cybercriminals attempt to penetrate systems and gain access to sensitive ePHI. This makes it essential for healthcare organizations and their partners to become HIPAA compliant. Compliance with HIPAA rules creates a more secure process of handling PHI, therefore, making attacks harder to execute.
It is also important to know the various cyber threats facing healthcare facilities. Here are threats you should watch out for.
Phishing is a type of cyber attack that criminals use to try and get sensitive information from an individual or organization. Cybercriminals send malicious emails with links or attachments that can give them access to your private information.
Other times they try to trick you into providing important information. They can also use text messages or social media to access health systems.
Cybercriminals use this type of attack to eavesdrop on the communication between two devices or people. The attacker aims to intercept or alter data transferred between the two parties.
An attacker can also delete confidential information and cause severe data loss. This leads to a breach of privacy law in healthcare and consequences.
Ransomware is another attack that cybercriminals use to extort money from organizations. The criminals access health information systems and encrypt sensitive data. They ask for money before decrypting it. Attackers can also block access to the health information system.
How Healthcare Organizations Can Prevent cyberattacks
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Healthcare organizations need to put measures in place to secure sensitive ePHI. This means they should protect digital devices, networks, and health systems in the following ways.
Train Staff on Cybersecurity Issues
Statistics show that 40% of workers in the healthcare sector are not knowledgeable in cybersecurity issues and data protection.
Make sure you provide regular and professional cybersecurity training to staff. Lack of IT security knowledge is a threat to your healthcare information.
After training, staff should know how to identify cyber threats like phishing. They should also know how to respond in case of an attack.
Provide employees with a HIPAA security rule checklist to ensure compliance. Let them understand the HIPAA privacy law and how it affects them.
Perform Security Risk Assessment
HIPAA rules require healthcare facilities to perform a risk assessment and ensure the safety of systems. Such analysis helps to identify security problems in health systems before they become risky for ePHI.
It is a requirement under HIPAA that health facilities should have security personnel to ensure data security. Cybersecurity professionals should evaluate the effectiveness of current security measures.
Data Control Storage and Usage
A cyber attack can cause serious damage to valuable patient data. An attack can even delete sensitive health information.
Employees need to ensure they back up health information. Backups are essential, and they ensure business continuity even after a cyber attack.
Hospitals and clinics should also monitor activities in the health system and limit access to ePHI. Not all employees should have access to all health records.
Employees should only access the data they need for the work they do. This reduces the chances of unauthorized access to data. It also helps to maintain data integrity.
Organizations can also include data encryption to protect sensitive health information. When introducing such data control measures, make sure you comply with the HIPAA cybersecurity requirements for encryption.
Monitoring Mobile and Connected Digital Devices
Digital devices, mobile phones, and IoT (Internet of Things) are important in healthcare operations. They can also have vulnerabilities.
Cyber attackers take advantage of such vulnerabilities to hack health devices and reconfigure them. Make sure you have a dedicated network for IoT and monitor any sudden changes in activities.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act strives to ensure patients’ sensitive information is safe. This federal law ensures patient information is not disclosed without their consent.
Health facilities risk facing the following consequences if they violate HIPAA rules.
- Financial penalties depend on the damage.
- Termination of the employee contract.
- Sanctions for failing to take action.
- Criminal charges that might include time in prison
- Loss of income
Healthcare facilities should have a workable health security information strategy. This proactive approach helps protect the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of health information.
The advancement of technology has made health systems efficient. It has also come with challenges that need urgent solutions.
That is why health organizations should follow HIPAA guidelines. The purpose of HIPAA is to make sure health data is secure.
Organizations should also understand the data security challenges. They should find ways to overcome these challenges.