Healthcare providers are vulnerable to cyber attacks because their industry is lucrative. People and even government institutions spend so much money on their medical bills, thanks to emerging markets and aging populations. Advances in technology have transformed paper medical records to digital files that can easily be stored and accessed, but can also easily be stolen by hackers. If any data is stolen or held for ransomware, the healthcare provider may rather pay the ransom then risk their reputation and the privacy of their patients.
From financial information to medical information
In the past few years, cyber criminals have focused on stealing financial data, including credit card numbers and personal information. But things are taking a turn, the result of financial institutions fortifying their database and raising client awareness of the problem.
Stronger data protection measures in the financial industry have forced criminals to turn their attention to medical data, which is typically much less secure. Patient data includes date of birth, medical and physical records, and social security number — information that can’t be easily reset, and is significantly more valuable than credit card data. Healthcare is now the industry with the highest number of attacks by ransomware. Attacks are expected to quadruple by 2020.
Securing healthcare data
Healthcare data has become more attractive to criminals, and it’s crucial that medical institutions take necessary precautions to secure their patients’ information from data thieves. Here are some best practices to secure healthcare data.
- Protect the network and Wi-Fi – Because hackers use a variety of tools to break into IT systems and obtain medical records, your healthcare organization needs to invest in firewalls and antivirus software. Network segregation is also a wise move; in the event of a breach, the attacker can’t instantly access all of your organization’s information at once. It's a good idea to get professional help from an IT company with specific experience in the healthcare industry.
- Educate employees – Staff members need training in information security, including setting passwords, spam filters, protection against phishing, and spotting different kinds of data breach methods.
- Data encryption – Encrypting data is one of the safest ways to secure it. Encryption translates patients’ data into code, and only authorized users with a decryption key can decode it. Multi-encryption is also an effective way to keep out intruders.
- Physical security – Most healthcare institutions still retain their patients’ records on paper, which are stored in cabinets. Ensure that all loopholes are covered by installing surveillance cameras and other physical security controls, such as electronic door locks.
It is important for healthcare providers to secure the sensitive information of their patients. If you want to know how your organization can better protect your patients’ information, contact us!