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Cybersecurity Tips to For Patient Privacy & Healthcare Data Security

Healthcare data security has never been more vulnerable than it is right now. The shift to remote work has driven patients and practitioners out of the office and directly into the sights of bad actors.

From healthcare targeted ransomware to third party vendor and supply chain breaches, let’s look at the biggest threats to your healthcare data security, and ways you can prevent them.

What is the Biggest Threat to Healthcare Data Security? Your Employees

One fact remains unchanged: Your employees are still one of the biggest causes of healthcare data security breaches.

Unfortunately, many in the healthcare industry have a “it won’t happen to me” mindset, and that is a big data security no-no. Add to this mindset a lack of employee cybersecurity training, and the people you rely on the most can become unintentional sources of breaches and malware infections.

Healthcare Cybersecurity Recommendation: Your healthcare data security can have several levels to help your employees work safely. Single-sign-on strategies, Identity Access Management, and cybersecurity training are all important parts of keeping your practice safe and HIPAA compliant.

Your Medical Devices are Open Invitations for Bad Actors

HIPAA can dictate everything a healthcare worker does, from the phone system that your business uses to the medical devices you rely on every day. Medical equipment is expensive and keeping these IoT devices updated can be very cost prohibitive.

Now, consider how these devices connect and send data. Using Wi-Fi, medical devices are designed to send immediate results from the machine directly to a waiting doctor’s tablet. This embedded capability is vital to communication and connectivity, but it’s also a cybersecurity nightmare.

Healthcare Cybersecurity Recommendation: Secure your Wi-Fi connections and make sure all medical equipment is updated with the latest software.

eBook: HIPAA Telecommuting Audit & Policy

Is your healthcare organization compliant? Find out for sure!

Mobile Devices Pose Their Own Vulnerabilities for Healthcare Data Security

Physicians, registrars, nurses, administration…nearly every person in your practice is connected via mobile devices. Healthcare decisions move at the speed of light, and practitioners and staff need to stay seamlessly connected.

It’s the ability of practitioners to be connected both in their own practices and with other interconnected organizations that can be a healthcare cybersecurity nightmare.

In addition, many healthcare systems allow the patient to access their healthcare records online, and since the public at large is very lax about securing their credentials, this is its own healthcare data security issue.

Healthcare Cybersecurity Recommendation: Always make sure your mobile devices are updated, and that multi-factor authentication as well as Identity Access Management and single-sign-on strategies are being enforced. Require very stringent passwords for patients to create accounts to access their records.

Third-Party and Supply Chain Vendor Breaches

It’s nearly impossible for a healthcare practice to list all its suppliers and third-party vendors. To give you an understanding of how many people have indirect (and sometimes direct) access to protected data, let’s take a closer look:

  • Payment processors
  • Equipment manufacturers and repairs
  • Medical supply vendors
  • Miscellaneous supply vendors
  • Legal teams
  • Other connected specialists and practices
  • Communications suppliers (phone systems, mobile device suppliers)

HIPAA requires compliance from your own practice, but also from your suppliers. Many healthcare breaches in 2020 came from supply chain vulnerabilities.

Healthcare Cybersecurity Recommendation: Use a third-party vendor management plan to audit your vendors and to control the access each one has to protected data.

Cyberattacks Targeting Healthcare Data Are on the Rise

In 2020, healthcare practitioners were warned of a 45% increase in healthcare-related cyberattacks. Why?

Protected healthcare information is valuable.  This is because medical records are available for up to twenty years, and unlike a credit card or bank account hack, the odds of discovering a healthcare data security breach are very low. Your patient’s protected data includes information like:

  • Social security numbers
  • Names and addresses
  • Dates of Birth
  • Insurance information
  • Financial information
  • Next of kin names, addresses, and financial information
  • Sensitive health data that could be used against your patients

All this information is valuable on the dark web. Think of your patients’ data as a one-stop shop for a determined bad actor.

Healthcare Cybersecurity Recommendation: Encryption is key for your patient data, as is controlling the amount of damage a cyberattack can cause by enabling Identity and Access Management solutions.

Iconic IT Understands HIPAA and Healthcare Data Security

Iconic IT understands the regulations that govern healthcare practices. We provide specialized IT services for our healthcare organizations to keep you safe and regulatory compliant. Our teams can provide the guidance you need to assess your practice’s healthcare data security.

Start your HIPAA compliance journey by downloading our Healthcare Essentials Kit. This is a must have healthcare IT kit that includes do-it-yourself HIPAA compliance checklists, webinars, eBooks, sample HIPAA device policies, and much more.

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