Cyber security in the healthcare industry is of vital importance. It takes care of everything that pertains to securing your most sensitive healthcare data like patients’ health records, your digital assets and resources, money, credit cards and debit cards, important login credentials, protected health information (PHI) as well as Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Information is one of your most vital assets which ought to be protected at all costs. Failure to which, devastating repercussions awaits you. Your healthcare information is at many risks. The risks can come from any level of your organization. And when they hit, your healthcare organization is likely to sink. The cost of a successful cyber breach is one you do not wish to incur. Cybersecurity Ventures Official Annual Cybercrime Report has estimated the cost of cybercrime to hit $6 trillion by the year 2021. This is a huge figure. The more reason as to why you should do your best to protect yourself and the healthcare organization. This article gives you some of the best guidelines that, when followed to the latter, will see to it that the healthcare industry is safe and secure from the many cyber threats that exist today.
Password Best Practices
No security topic can be complete without the mention of passwords. A password is like the foundation of every website security component. Unauthorized accesses have proved to be one of the major threats in the healthcare industry. We can only blame one thing on allowing these unauthorized accesses: weak passwords. They are the culprits.
When a hacker cracks your password, he will access your account with ease. It will be a walk in the park for him. And the risks associated with such an instance is not something you want to hear. Consequences of unauthorized accesses include loss of very valuable files and information such vital patients’ records, financial information, credit and debit card details, loss of identity and even money. I am pretty sure this is a burden you are not ready to carry. So why wait? All you need to have is a hard to crack password. The following are some of the characteristics of a Strong password:
- Keep the password long. An ideal password length should be about 8 characters. You should,however, not make the password so long to an extent of not remembering it.
- A strong password should be a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters such as a comma and a hyphen.
- Where you store your password matters a lot. I will advise that you memorize your password. Writing them down might put the security of your healthcare organization in great jeopardy. All a hacker will need to do is to target the source where you have your password stored and that will be it.
Finally, never at any point in time should you use a single password for multiple accounts. Make it a norm to have a different password for every account. I will tell you why this is so, when a hacker succeeds in using a password to crack your account, he will try to use the very password to access some of your other accounts. Woe unto you if you have multiple accounts operating under a single login credential.
Use of a Secure Connection- HTTPS connection
The healthcare industry is usually a lucrative hotspot for hackers. Hackers want those health details for patients to use for their malicious purposes. They will lay all sorts of traps just to ensure that they intercept the communications and information transfers between websites and the clients. Healthcare organizations are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all the communications, information transfers and all clients’ resources are secure. Encrypting all these resources is therefore necessary.
To ensure that the communication is encrypted, an organization will need to install an SSL certificate on all its website. All domains and subdomains of the websites should have an SSL certificate. It is the certificate that will offer the required level of encryption to all the communication taking place between the web servers and the clients’ browsers. A hacker will find it difficult to hijack the communication. This is because the communication goes through a coded format which can only be intercepted by the intended recipient. A hacker who succeeds in intercepting the communication will not be able to understand the meaning and cannot alter the intended message.
SSL certificates are, therefore, an important component for healthcare industry taking in mind that this is an industry that involves the transfer of very confidential information. All organizations should acquire SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate authority. Some of the certificate authorities offering reliable SSLs include RapidSSL Certificates, Symantec SSL , Comodo SSL Certificate, GEO Trust SSL and Thawte SSL Certificates.
Some of the security occurring in the healthcare industry are because of employee actions. Out of ignorance and their own malicious reasons, employee belonging to healthcare organizations can put the whole healthcare industry in great jeopardy. Therefore, every management of a healthcare organization should ensure that every employee is educated and enlightened on the security guidelines that are relevant to the healthcare organization.
For instance, employees should be made aware of the requirements of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and made to fall in line with them. Employees should also be made to understand some of the password best practices and made to follow them to the latter. They should be educated on how to identify a possible cyberattack and the measures to take in case of an impendingcyber-attack.
Access controls are so crucial in ensuring that the healthcare industry is free from security risks. Access controls are guidelines that dictate who is to access which resource and who should not access it. Not every employee of an organization is entitled to access all the IT infrastructure of the organization. Only those that need the resources to accomplish their job requirements should be made to do so. IT department should liaise with the human resource department to ensure that employees that have retired or those that are currently inactive do not access health records and other health resources. Doing this minimizes data breaches risks.
Regular System Updates
Healthcare cyber threats may sometimes result from using old and outdated software versions. These versions will usually not have the required security strengths to combat a cyberattack. New versions will always come in aid to address the security loopholes and vulnerabilities that exist in the older versions. To ensure that the healthcare industry is secure, all stakeholders should update the systems with the latest software.
Hackers are clever and will always find new ways of going past a security wall. It is important to back up your data. A data backup will act as a contingency scheme that assures your healthcare organization of continuity even after a successful cyber breach. It also matters a lot where you store your backup files. The files should be stored far away from the reach of cyber attackers. The question that you should also seek to answer is how often you should conduct a data backup? Carrying out data backup regularly, like say after two weeks, could just be ideal for your healthcare organization.
Regular Risk Assessments and Security Audits
Security vulnerabilities will always exist. Knowing where loopholes that could pose a threat to the healthcare industry lie is essential. There is only one way of establishing the source of these risks. It is through carrying out regular risk assessments and security audits. You can have your IT team carry out the risk audits for you or you can outsource for an outside security audit firm to do the task for you.
Multiple Security Layers
With cyber security and especially the confidentiality of healthcare information, you cannot just have one security wall in place and think that you will be safe. You need several security walls in place so that a hacker will have a hard time trying to break through your healthcare data.
The number of security threats in the healthcare industry have skyrocketed to extreme levels. There is a wakeup call for all healthcare organizations to put in place security measures that can help instigate the cyber threats. This article has explained eight of these measures which can be used to improve the security of the healthcare industry.