There’s no question that the value of healthcare data is still high today. It’s also true that healthcare organizations are now considered “prime targets” for cybercriminals. The methods used by these nefarious individuals to wreak havoc and make a profit off of compromised records include the exploitation of weak spots in a healthcare organization. Examples of this include security loopholes on the server, employees who aren’t properly trained, and more.
As the digital age moves forward and continues to evolve, the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) is growing continuously, making it the perfect target for all types of criminal activity. It’s essential that you as an entrepreneur and your organization take a proactive stance to prevent these issues and to protect sensitive data from cybercriminals. Some tips that can help with this effort are found here.
Perform Regular Risk Assessments
You should never underestimate how important it is to perform routine risk assessments for your organization and data. Even if your network security is based on a Zero Trust foundation, healthcare organizations are always evolving and changing. As a result, you need to evaluate these changes individually to find any possible risks. Some examples of these changes include the installation of a new server, opening a new location, changing EHR vendors, or something else.
With a risk assessment, you can identify various security gaps present in your physical, technical, and administrative safeguards, helping you avoid a destructive data breach. However, they are also necessary for HIPPA compliance, along with meeting the MACRA/MIPS requirements.
Perform Penetration Tests and Vulnerability Scans
These are often referred to as a network assessment; however, regardless of what you call them, vulnerability scans are all about finding any vulnerabilities in an organization that needs to be exploited to gain access to ePHI. Today, networks are extremely complex and when you perform a vulnerability scan, it can help you find vulnerabilities and misconfiguration before cybercriminals have the opportunity to. With this scan, you can search for issues such as unpatched systems, a hole in your firewall, and more.
After you have completed the vulnerability scan, it’s recommended that you also perform a penetration test. Also called a pen test, this is usually done after you have fixed the issues found with your vulnerability scan. This test is usually done outside of your network as an effort to try to “break-in.” This is going to highlight any other weaknesses and risks within your network.
Encryption is a Must-Have
Encryption is needed for any healthcare organization if you want to provide sufficient protection for your patient data. Even with proactive measures in place, breaches can still occur. It’s crucial that your organization is currently using encryption for everything. This includes encrypting laptops, emails, and more. With encryption, you are rendering your data essentially useless if a breach occurs. You should have encryption in place for data when it is in transit and when it is at rest.
Patch and Update Your System Regularly
There are several reasons that updating your system is a crucial practice. With updates, you can repair various security holes, and you can remove or fix any bugs that are present. While this is true, there are other benefits, as well, such as adding new features and removing the ones that are no longer needed.
Modern cybercriminals are going to look for any security holes that have not been patched. This can lead to an array of problems for your organization. Once a vulnerability is found, hackers may begin to write code that will target and exploit the vulnerability they have discovered with malicious intent. If these efforts are successful, the hacker can use the security loophole they have discovered to infect your entire computer.
As you can see, there are several steps you need to take to safeguard your healthcare data and sensitive information. If you fail to do this, you are putting this information at risk, along with your business or practice.