In the healthcare industry, data breaches are becoming more frequent. More and more attacks are carried out daily to steal patients’ medical records. While cyberattacks are growing regardless of the industry, they are more prevalent in the healthcare sector. The World Economic Forum warns that healthcare will be a critical problem if it doesn’t improve its cybersecurity strength.
Cyberattack events can cause serious harm to patients, providers, and payers in the form of medical identity theft, fraud, or a lack of trust among stakeholders. But how do you stop them? Well, this article lists some tips on how to prevent data breaches in the healthcare sector.
The Increasing Number of Data Breaches in the Healthcare Sector
As a healthcare business owner, you know that the healthcare sector is the most targeted by cybercriminals. You also likely know that your sector is the least prepared for cyberattacks and data breaches. And, if you’re like many of us in this field, you’ve probably asked yourself why so many hacks are happening to healthcare organizations.
Here’s some insight into what’s going on behind the scenes:
- Healthcare organizations are less vulnerable than other industries regarding cybersecurity threats, but they’re less prepared. While businesses across all sectors are vulnerable to data breaches, healthcare is especially at risk due to the sensitive nature of its assets.
- Compared with other industries, such as manufacturing and retail, healthcare organizations are more likely to be hit with ransomware attacks because they store sensitive data on their systems and use outdated software versions that aren’t equipped with security patches and updates.
- Healthcare organizations generally have fewer resources available for cybersecurity efforts. Hence, when an attack does occur, it can cause even more damage than it would otherwise do elsewhere within an organization.
The numbers are increasing significantly, especially post Covid-19. From the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in Illinois to the Italian Covid-19 Portal, attackers have used the Covid-19 pandemic as bait to attack many healthcare organizations.
Moreover, many attacks have already been carried out in 2022. For instance, in January 2022, the Broward Health hospital reported being hit by a data breach. The attack resulted in 1.3 million patients’ and staff’s identity theft.
Moreover, a multiple-study analysis published in the IET journal calls the COVID-19 period an “academic” due to the increasing number of attacks. In addition, the poor security practices in the healthcare industry make it an easy target for attackers, increasing the number of attacks.
How to Prevent Data Breaches in the Healthcare Sector
There are many ways to strengthen your cybersecurity and prevent data breaches. Here are some of the tips to help you out.
Develop an Incident Response Plan
In addition to implementing security measures and ensuring that current employees are trained on data security best practices, healthcare organizations should also develop an incident response plan. This should include the following:
- A strategy for responding to data breaches
- Testing of the plan regularly
- Review of the plan by senior leadership
- Review by the board of directors
An effective incident response plan can help healthcare organizations get back on track after an attack. In addition, this can demotivate attackers from attacking the hospital because they often attack to steal and lock data to halt daily work and for identity theft. However, the sad part is that only 32% of businesses have an effective incident response plan.
Maximize Encryption and Access Controls
Encryption is the process of encoding data so that only authorized parties can read it. Encryption protects data from unauthorized access during transmission and, at rest, two critical times for malicious actors to gain access to sensitive information.
Encryption is used to secure data in transit and at rest. It also helps organizations comply with HIPAA and PCI DSS regulations, which require you to protect patient health information or credit card data stored on your servers or portable devices, respectively.
You can get help from professionals to ensure optimal network security for However, the IT infrastructure. Your staff will not have any technical background, making it almost impossible to prevent breaches without the help of a managed IT services provider.
A managed service provider can help you draft a cybersecurity strategy and implement it to mitigate any loopholes and prevent attacks. However, not all service providers are the same.
You can look for a managed service provider like IS&T (https://www.is-t.net/managed-it-services-houston-tx) to get all the help you need. They will implement network security strategies for your IT infrastructure. Moreover, it will also help you with tips on educating your employees and further bolstering the security of your systems.
Conduct Risk Assessments
Conducting a risk assessment is the first step to getting your security house in order. A risk assessment is a process that identifies a security incident’s threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts to help you prioritize the areas you Then need to focus on first. Then, it can be used to determine whether you’re doing enough in terms of prevention, detection, and response and how much more needs to be done.
If you don’t know where your weak spots are or what data is most at risk, how will you know where and when to invest? If there’s anything that can help prevent another massive breach like the one at UCLA Health, it’s taking time out of your busy schedule for this step-by-step process.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication on All Accounts
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a method of confirming the identity of a user, usually by requiring them to provide two or more means of identification.
This is also known as two-step verification or login approval. Multi-factor authentication offers protection beyond passwords, which are often compromised. MFA involves:
- Something you know: your password/PIN
- Something you have: your phone
- Something you are: a biometric identifier such as fingerprint scanning or facial recognition.
Data shows that MFA can block as much as 99% of attacks. This is precisely why an article in The Journal of mHealth states that MFA is vital for the healthcare industry and can help improve security posture.
Continue to Educate Employees On Cybersecurity Risks
Human error is one of the biggest reasons behind data breaches. Data shows that 82% of all data breaches involve the human element. Educating your employees on cybersecurity can help prevent most attacks involving human error.
It would be best if you educated them on how to use a VPN and 2FA, and in addition, encryption works. You’ll want to show them examples of passwords they should never use, such as “password1234.”
In addition, you’ll want them to understand the importance of keeping their devices clean by running antivirus software regularly and changing their passwords often. Even though it may feel like an overwhelming task at first, having employees properly educated on cybersecurity will go a long way toward reducing your company’s chances of being hacked.
Healthcare organizations can dramatically reduce the risk of data breaches and other cyberattacks. By following these steps, healthcare organizations can dramatically reduce the risk of data breaches and other cyberattacks.