Data security in the healthcare business is critical in order to safeguard personal patient information. It is vital to conform to national data protection legislation and adhere to organisational information governance policies. Previously, patient data was recorded on paper and stored in filing cabinets; hence it was more straightforward to preserve and secure it.
Due to technological advancements and the growing digital age, patient records are saved electronically on computers, servers, and storage devices. All healthcare personnel directly access, update and record patient data using electronic devices such as computers, desktops, mobile, and iPads. Data is shared between and amongst different healthcare facilities and providers for improved care and diagnosis. However, the risks of data leaks and hostile attackes such as malware and viruses become more likely. As a result, there is a need for more effective healthcare data security solutions to mitigate the risks of malicious data attacks and technical failure.
Data Security may be defined as any preventative step which helps safeguard and protect data. The goal is to create a practical and efficient plan to ensure that the hospital’s data and patient data are kept secure.
Healthcare businesses are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks by hackers seeking personal information or committing medical fraud. One of the key reasons is the sort of data gathered and stored in the healthcare industry. Patients’ names, dates of birth, addresses, social security numbers, payment account information, and other personal information are stored in great detail by healthcare companies. They must carefully assess the various causes of data breaches and implement effective security solutions that address both internal and external risks.
Furthermore, when compared to other types of stolen data, healthcare data tends to attract a higher price on the black market as healthcare businesses have more detailed information. As a result, healthcare organisations need to implement appropriate data security solutions to decrease the risks of data breaches.
With a spike in the frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks in the healthcare sector organisations may suffer more significant financial and reputational damage.
What are the most vulnerable points for hackers to exploit, potentially resulting in data breaches?
Here is a sumary of the most important factors to consider:
- Unsafe and outdated legacy systems: Hackers can penetrate, gain access and steal healthcare data easily because of unsafe and outdated legacy operating systems and software. Most of these legacy systems lack basic security, increasing the risk of attack. Upgrading to contemporary operating systems and cyber protection techniques is required.
- Weak Passwords: Strong passwords are not universally adopted. Weak passwords are another serious risk concern in healthcare organisations. Healthcare and IT personnel must ensure that password requirements are strong enough to prevent them from being readily guessed or hacked. They also need to be frequently changed.
- Inability to secure data: When staff end their work for the day and leave their workstations, they carelessly, on many instances, leave them unlocked, allowing anyone to access and steal data. This is one of the most prevalent causes of data security breaches. There is a need to ascertain that staff lock their workstations and do not leave them unprotected. Another way of protecting data would be by enabling auto-locking features after a few minutes of inactivity.
- Improper data security training: It is critical to train all employees, contractors, vendors, and others in data security regulations. Regular reviews with all personnel should be conducted to ensure they follow adequate and current data security standards.
- Malware-infected email scams: Phishing scams are on the increase; here emails that appear to come from a trusted source such as vendors and suppliers land in our devices. Opening the email or clicking on links within the email leads to infecting the computer and devices with malware, giving a hacker access to medical records. It is essential to educate employees on the importance of taking extra precautions and never opening suspicious emails as these scams are increasingly sophisticated.
- Employees from within the company, contractors, and vendors with ulterior motives may steal healthcare information, post them online, or even share in the dark web. Healthcare information is in huge demand in the dark web because of the nature of personal data.
- All healthcare companies, like most businesses today, are digitally transforming themselves. Both staff and patients are adopting mobile applications and switching to cloud services, which opens the door to new security threats in the healthcare industry. The problem with advancing technologies like cloud and mobile technology is that data continuously flows between servers and devices, making it essential to have on-the-fly encryption. Another risk is using personal mobile devices; here, the risk increases because personal devices might not provide the same level of protection as those offered by the organisation’s infrastructure.
- Improper disposal of obsolete hardware: It’s common to think that you need not worry about data being accessible to others after equipment has been destroyed. However, when users incorrectly dispose of hard drives, obsolete terminals, and other hardware used to access a network, cyber-criminals hmay ave easy access to such information. It is possible to recover data even after drives have been wiped or reformatted, implying that anything the user saved might still be exposed.
Healthcare data security is no longer an option today; it has evolved into a crucial strategic asset that every firm, particularly those in the healthcare industry, must strongly consider. Healthcare organisations have successfully built a health information technology infrastructure to access, send, and receive healthcare data over the last decade. However, many, on the other hand, have not made significant investments in developing a solid security plan to protect health data stored in electronic systems.
What lengths should an organisation go to secure your patients’ personal information? One thing is certain: Organisations have to stay one step ahead of the hackers. Healthcare data security, which has recently gained momentum on the news on several occasions, mainly concerning breaches and disclosures, has to be curbed and addressed.
Healthcare organisations need their patient’s data but sometimes lack the necessary resources and defences to keep it safe. IGspectrum’s cyber security solutions prepare and enable your healthcare organisation to face current and future security threats.
We understand the importance of patient data security and make it a high priority on every assignment. Take a look at our cyber security solutions to find out more about enhancing your data security defences.