Best Practices to Prevent Health Care Cybersecurity Threats

health care cybersecurity prevention

health care cybersecurity preventionDid you know that the U.S. medical and health care sector experienced 374 data breaches in 2017?

These breaches represent 23 percent of the total 1,579 data breaches that occurred that year.

Most of these data breaches were caused by internal actors who were mainly driven by financial gain (48 percent), curiosity (31 percent) or convenience (10 percent). Shocking, right?

According to a 2018 analysis by Thales Security, 77 percent of U.S. health care organizations now report having experienced a data breach, and 48 percent say that they have had a breach in the past year.

If you are a health care executive, you are probably wondering how you can prevent cyberattacks. With the increased awareness of the value of health care data, this industry has been targeted by hackers. Without the right protections in place, you can risk your reputation and damage the trust of your patients.

Why is this data so valuable? Unlike a credit card, which can be shut off, your health care information could be used for years without anyone catching on. That information can be used to obtain medical services, prescription drugs, and medical devices, not to mention the traditional identity theft. Plus, the length of time it takes for medical bills to be paid can provide a cover for criminal activities.

You can apply different strategies to achieve health care cybersecurity. Regardless of the approach you take, you need to learn the following best practices to keep your data safe.

1. Perform Regular Audits

An audit can help you identify all potential problems and inefficiencies in your data systems. The audits include evaluating your emergency response strategy or coming up with one.

You should also hire at least one dedicated professional to take care of your security applications. Recognize that consolidation can be both a blessing and a curse. After all, the bigger your organization, the easier it is to implement vendor policies to protect data. On the other hand, consolidation of a large health care system means multiple points of vulnerability that could allow fraud to occur.

If there are problems in your systems, deal with them immediately. You also need to allocate enough resources to address cybersecurity risks. This is where most companies fail.

2. Evaluate Third Party Companies

Third-party companies are often the weakest point in an organization’s defense against cyberattacks.

Working with a third-party without a background investigation is ill-advised.

Make sure you ask all the third parties you work with about their security systems and that of their partners. This process will not only help you protect your business but also ensure you are in control of your data.

When evaluating the third parties, find out if they pose any risk to your health care systems.

Ask if they have ever experienced data breaches. If so, what caused them? Were employees re-investigated after that?

You also need to ask about the security measures they have put in place to prevent data breaches in the future.

Evaluating third parties can be expensive and time-consuming. Despite the inconveniences, it is essential for your health care organization’s cybersecurity. You do not want to end up working with fraudulent or unreliable companies.

Plus, you need to constantly keep evaluating your reimbursement process from insurance companies to be sure that they are paying the right entity. Payments can be misdirected due to fraud and then your organization has two losses because the vendor still needs to be paid and you lost the money that was sent out in error.

3. Have a Backup System

Why do you need a backup system?

Should an organization become a victim of cybersecurity breach, a backup system can help minimize disruptions. It can also enhance the recovery process after an attack.

It is advised to invest in a backup system to pull from in case of a cyberattack. Part of your backup system needs to include policies regarding when and how data is accessed to keep the data current and avoid vulnerabilities.

Be sure that backups happen regularly, perhaps creating a schedule based on departments to avoid a drag on the system.

4. Educate Your Staff About Health Care Cybersecurity

Employees who do not know much about cyberattacks can expose your organization to attacks. Make sure they know everything about cybersecurity and cyberattacks. Often, hackers do not need to use a sophisticated attack. Simply sending a phishing email is all it takes for them to get into your system.

Different phishing emails are going to have different priorities. Some are focused on installing malware, while others are focused on accessing data. Your employee could become an unwitting accomplice just by clicking on an email that appears to be from a vendor and making changes in their payment system.

Also, train your employees in procedures for approving wire transfers so they will be less vulnerable to odd requests that appear to come from management. Plus, you want to be sure that all the members of your staff are following procedures to avoid confusion.

Additionally, teach them the protective measures to take. Reminding your team how breaches occur and how to prepare and respond can reduce the risk of attacks.

Make Cybersecurity a Priority

As you adopt new technology, you need to make health care cybersecurity a priority. Most cyberattacks can be prevented. All you need is to establish a working cybersecurity strategy.

Also, do not forget the best practices we have highlighted above. They will help deter malicious individuals and improve your organization’s ability to handle potential security incidents.

If you have any questions or are in need of cybersecurity, audit or backup services, contact us for a free one-hour consultation.

Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.