As digital healthcare expands, ecosystems prioritizing patient safety and well-being will become important. Data security, thus, becomes critical for the information management of sensitive medical records.
Modern cloud healthcare is based on data, and a security breach can hurt trust and put health and lives at risk. Businesses need a comprehensive plan to fight the growing risks of cybercrime. When developing privacy safeguards, it is important to consider regulatory requirements. Here is an overview of the threat to healthcare data, the most common compliance standards, and how to protect against it.
Cybercriminals keep attacking the healthcare industry because patient health information (PHI) is valuable. The average cost of a privacy breach in healthcare was $9.23 million in 2021, and about 714 breaches involved over 500 records. As such, we cannot overstate the significance of safekeeping medical records.
Cybercriminals do not discriminate against their targets. Small healthcare facilities are also susceptible to cyberattacks like large healthcare networks.
The need for consumerization in IT has even reached today’s medical clinics and hospitals. Patients expect efficiency from booking appointments and getting reminders to having video sessions. Modern practice management and patient experience software is becoming popular, which is good in some ways. However, if medical facilities don’t take steps to protect patients’ personal information, they could be in trouble.
This article will discuss keeping healthcare information safe and suggest ways to make the space safer.
Potential Threats to Healthcare Data
Cybercriminals can be very patient and attack your data in various sophisticated ways. Never underestimate their abilities. Here are some of the methods that they use while conducting their operations.
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack attempts to bring down a service, server, or network by overloading it or the infrastructure that supports it.
DDoS assaults are effective because they draw traffic from many different infected computers. It can take advantage of PCs and other networked resources like the Internet of Things. At a high level, a DDoS assault is like an unforeseen traffic jam that blocks off a highway, making it impossible for ordinary traffic to get through.
Phishing is a social manipulation attack conducted by email, text messages, or any communication medium. Its goal is to get people to give away their credentials, download malicious software, or reveal other sensitive information. The attackers can use the information to get initial access to a healthcare system. That is the most frequent entry point for any attack.
Ransomware is bad software that encrypts files and asks for money to decrypt them. It encrypts the most sensitive information of a user or company to prevent access to documents, databases, and programs.
After that, attackers demand a ransom to unlock the features. Because ransomware is so common and can infect databases and file servers quickly, it can bring any business to its knees. It’s becoming more of a problem and costing businesses and governments billions of dollars yearly.
In-patient use of mobile devices for charting and communication and outpatient use of gadgets to interact with patients are rising. Ensure that all patient-facing and internal clinic software complies with the requirements.
Unauthorized Access or Disclosure
Information is vulnerable to attack from many different sources, not only criminals. Someone in the healthcare field could share private information by email, on paper, by accident, or on purpose. Failure to log out of a healthcare system open to the public could also lead to compliance problems.
Tips for Securing Healthcare Data
It is important to follow compliance requirements when making plans to secure healthcare data. The following are some of the most effective ways:
Building Capacity Among Health Staff
An efficient way of improving security in the healthcare sector is to increase employee training on common weak points like phishing attacks and other social engineering techniques. It covers other common breach points, like emailing sensitive information or forgetting to log out of systems. Many courses are also available online at no cost.
If staff isn’t trained enough to deal with these problems, it could be a sign that the current healthcare software systems are slowing down workflow and making it take longer to provide care. A specialist in healthcare software may be useful in these situations.
Safeguard Mobile Devices
Laptops, smartphones, and other portable devices have given people more ways to use Electronic Health Records (EHRs) away from desktops.
However, these possibilities also raise risks to data privacy and security. Although some of these dangers exist within the desktop environment, others are specific to mobile devices.
Whether a doctor uses a tablet to look up a patient’s medical history or a billing clerk submitting an insurance claim, healthcare professionals and covered organizations increasingly rely on mobile devices to get work done.
The protection of mobile devices requires a wide range of techniques, such as:
- Controlling everything from devices to network settings.
- Providing a means to lock and delete data from a missing device remotely.
- Methods for encrypting application data
- Managing inboxes and attachments helps thwart malware intrusions and stolen information.
- Instructional measures for enhancing mobile device safety.
- Restricting software installation to only those that meet certain criteria.
- Ensure customers install the most recent versions of their apps and operating systems.
- Mandating the use of mobile device management systems and other forms of mobile security software
Encrypt Patient’s Data
Encryption is a crucial part of healthcare’s big data security infrastructure. It is necessary to transfer and store sensitive data in healthcare institutions safely. Only the intended users and recipients should be able to read the data. If there is a data breach, the bad guys won’t be able to get to the encrypted files because they won’t have the keys to decrypt them.
Healthcare providers may choose the required encryption methods based on their business operations.
Conduct Risk Assessments
It’s important to keep an audit trail if something goes wrong, but it’s much more important to take precautions beforehand to avoid problems. Healthcare providers can prevent costly data breaches by building capacity among staff.
Regular risk assessments will identify any risks to the privacy and security of PHI before they lead to a costly data breach. Many businesses and software are available to aid with healthcare facility audit readiness.
The HIPAA Omnibus Rule states that third parties, like business associates and software vendors, must take part in risk assessments. That includes using any third-party service such as Google Docs or any other use or storage of PHI.
Backup Data to a Safe Location
Protect the integrity of data by backing it up to a safe, offsite location. That will reduce the risk of ransomware, which can be very expensive. Also, ensure that you can always provide accurate patient data. No matter the size of your practice, it is imperative that you have a daily backup.
Think about how ransomware can lead to the disclosure of critical patient information. If data is not backed up, a healthcare company could face catastrophic losses in the event of a crisis, even if it only affects the data center. That’s why it’s important to make regular backups of your data in a safe place away from your computer.
A backup of data kept in a safe place offsite is also an important part of any plan for dealing with a disaster.
Using Big Data Security in healthcare ensures that important patient data is safe from new threats. That’s because cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated, and privacy issues are worsening.