The healthcare industry has become a prime target for hackers. Here are 10 tips to keep them away from your data.
In 2017, a report by Experian cited the healthcare industry as the number one target of hackers. The sensitivity of the types of data collected and stored by healthcare-related entities makes those organizations tempting targets for attack. Stringent regulations from HIPAA, HI.T.ECH, and other overseers mean that severe penalties can arise when a breach occurs and data is lost. This makes healthcare organizations ripe targets for ransomware attacks and other coordinated hacking attempts.
“78% of Healthcare Providers experienced Ransomware or Malware Attacks.”
(Source: HIMSS Analytics Survey-2017 )
In light of this alarming situation, if you do business in the healthcare industry, it would be prudent to strengthen your I.T. infrastructure and put in place advanced measures to secure your data. An array of solutions are available, but it’s also vital that everything you do, from laying out a comprehensive security policy to ensuring access control, is followed through and enforced.
Let’s look at few practical tips that can go a long way in helping you keep hackers out of your network. The following tips will help you make your systems more secure and keep hackers out. While there is no absolute guarantee that your systems will be safe from every possible threat, but implementing these measures can certainly reduce the level of threats to which your organization is exposed.
- Ensure Limited Access to Confidential Data
It seems obvious, but it never hurts to reiterate: you cannot give access to confidential patient data to just anyone. This information should only be accessible to a limited number of people—those who are crucial to a patient’s care, and to the record-keeping chain—and no one else. Losing this information due to negligence will not only put you in trouble under HIPAA regulations, but may leave you open to legal action. Exceptional care must be taken while sharing Patient Health Information (PHI) data even within your organization.
- Always Use Fully Updated Software
It might feel like a hassle to have to spend valuable time updating your software, but failure to do so can leave you vulnerable to intrusion. If the software that you use is not up to date, you will not be benefitting from all the latest security features that are being provided, thus making yourself more susceptible to attacks. Note that this includes not just your antivirus and security software, but every app and tool on your network. Vulnerabilities in any program can provide the back door hackers need to get into your system.
- Keep Your Staff Well Trained on All Cybersecurity Protocols
In many cases, the loose end of your security chain is not someone from the outside, but someone who is a part of your organization and has access to sensitive information. Without proper training, your employees are susceptible not only to simple human error, but also to social engineering hacks designed to exploit the overly trusting and well-meaning. You should require ongoing training to ensure that your staff is aware of new threats and prepared to give hackers and tricksters no leeway.
- Use Different Passwords on Different Platforms
Using similar and easily guessable passwords should be completely avoided. Once again, the obvious needs to be restated: if you are using the same passwords in multiple places for the sake of convenience, you are inviting a catastrophe. All a hacker will need to do is get access to just one of your account passwords, and then they will be able to gain access to all your other accounts. By making use of different (and varied) passwords for all your accounts, you can feel assured that even if one of them is under attack, the others are safe.
- Make Use of a Secure Place for Storing Passwords
Ready for yet another piece of obvious advice that too few people follow? Do not make the mistake of writing down your password on a sticky note or a piece of paper. (And please don’t compound your errors by then sticking that note directly to your monitor!) Nor should you keep your password in an email or any other document. If you are not good at remembering passwords, find creative ways to store them. Instead of storing the exact password, you can make use of hints that will be understood by you and no one else. That way, even if someone gets ahold of your hints, they will still not able to guess your password.
- Regularly Assess Performance to Check for Risks
You will not be able to provide comprehensive protection for your system if you are not sure where the vulnerabilities lie. Risk assessment is necessary so that you are clear about all the areas where you need to beef up security. Yet even after you’ve got security in place, you cannot afford to get complacent. New attacks and approaches to hacking arise on a constant basis, so you must regularly reassess your system to make sure you are not open to the latest techniques.
- Ensure Security With the Help of a Layered Defense System
If you are making use of multiple layers of security, you are doing a great job, as this will go a long way to ensure the safety of all your data. This defense forces the attacker to break through more than one layer of security. This will not only help you prevent the attack, but might also help you identify the attacker as well. Just like multiple security gates increase the chances of a thief getting caught, multi-layered security systems can put the hacker at risk.
- Always Have a Backup Plan to Follow in Case of a Disaster
If a disaster strikes, you should know what steps should be taken to secure and back up your system. Make sure you not only have a comprehensive plan, but also the right set of people assigned to each job. Review disaster protocols regularly, so that everyone understands their duty when the time comes to act. After your data is recovered and your network is back in action, take the time to reevaluate your plan and make necessary changes so that things will run even more smoothly in the future.
- Enforce the Encryption Standards Guidelines Mentioned in HIPAA’s 2013 Rules
In 2013, the final Omnibus Rule was rolled out, offering specific guidelines for enforcing encryption standards while dealing with PHI data. Make it a point to implement these standards in your organization without delay. Not only will this keep you in compliance with regulations, it will also make your business more secure.
- Use a Managed Services Provider for Comprehensive I.T. Security
With the attention hackers and criminals are giving to your network, the task of securing the private data of your patients and business might best be left to experts. Consider employing the services of an I.T. managed services provider that specializes in data backup and I.T. infrastructure security. Make it a point to discuss in detail any existing vulnerabilities that you are aware of as you collaborate with them on designing and enforcing a strict security policy.
JMARK has specialized teams dedicated to serving the healthcare industry. We provide comprehensive security solutions, as well as backup services and disaster recovery planning. To learn more about how managed I.T. services can make your business more secure, contact JMARK today.