Different industries today make use of digital technologies to improve efficiency and save time and money. Unfortunately, with these technological advancements, there have been increased cases of cybercrimes. Criminals are looking to take advantage of any vulnerabilities in the digital systems for selfish gains. Continue reading to see how to prevent cyber attacks for healthcare professionals.
According to Forbes, the number of cyberattacks increased as of 2021 by 15.1% compared to 2020. 30% of respondents surveyed revealed that they don’t have adequate financial resources to adopt effective cybersecurity measures and that the attackers are better financed. 41% of the executives said their cybersecurity strategies are not at par with current digital trends.
The healthcare industry is one of the most targeted sectors by cybercrime actors. As medical professionals continue harnessing technology’s power to enhance patient care and treatment, criminals find more opportunities for attack. These attacks may have significant ramifications for the healthcare sector. For example, the loss of patient records is not only a breach of privacy but can also put lives at risk.
Fortunately, healthcare professionals can take steps to prevent cyberattacks and protect all health information. Read on to learn how.
Consider Cloud Storage
Recently, there’s been an accelerating shift to cloud services in various industries, including healthcare. Gartner forecasts 20.4% growth in public cloud end-user spending worldwide as of 2022, amounting to USD$494.7 billion from USD$410.9 billion in 2021. The figure is expected to grow, amounting to USD$600 billion by 2023.
This indicates that the cloud is the powerhouse in the digital era. Medical personnel want to leverage cloud servers’ security to store medical data safely. That’s why it’s best to partner with a cloud service provider with robust and powerful security measures. The company should comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which provides the standards for sensitive patient data protection.
Below are security measures reputable cloud providers use to protect data:
- End-to-end encryption: Files on cloud servers are scrambled, making it difficult for hackers to access them.
- Consistent security updates: This ensures you’re up-to-date with security best practices, lowering security vulnerabilities, such as the ability of hackers to slip malware or viruses.
- Built-in firewalls: They act like a wall, locking out any suspicious traffic to your online data.
As a healthcare professional, you need to invest in a HIPAA compliant cloud storage solution to store and manage all medical records.
The following are more benefits of using a cloud file storage solution:
- Quick access: You can access medical files from anywhere in real time.
- Collaboration: You and other healthcare professionals can work together on medical files stored in the cloud.
- Convenience of sharing files: You can safely and instantly distribute information online using the sharing features.
- Scalability: You can upgrade your service plan to meet your expansion needs.
Be sure to collaborate with the safest cloud provider to store and manage your medical files better.
Invest In Multi-Factor Authentication Capabilities
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security technology that requires users to provide two or more verification factors when accessing an online resource. Here are some of the MFA factors to combine:
- Knowledge-based authentication: It requires users to answer a personal security question. It can be a password, one-time password (OTPs), and personal identification numbers (PIN).
- Inherence factor: It includes biometric verification methods, like fingerprint scan, facial recognition, digital signature scanners, or voice authentication.
- Possession factor: Users must have a particular item in possession to gain access, like a badge, a keyfob, or a token.
Essentially, MFA provides additional security rather than depending only on a username or password. Based on a survey by Statista on MFA usage by companies in 2021, half of the 353 respondents revealed that their organisations use an authenticator app. 37.4% used a one-time password. Therefore, as a medical professional, you need to consider this type of multiple protection to reduce chances of cyberattacks and ensure the safe management of all electronic records of the healthcare system.
Use Strong Passwords
Today, many medical devices are connected to the internet, allowing healthcare professionals to access electronic health information online. With this trend, hackers have become more proactive and have found ways to hack weak and easily predictable passwords to obtain sensitive medical data.
Enhanced password management is key to preventing data breaches. Here’s what you can do to set a strong and more secure password:
- Include numbers, uppercase, and lowercase characters, and symbols. Numbers and symbols should be placed in unexpected places not easily identifiable by password hacking tools.
- Go for a password that’s at least 12 characters. The more characters in a password, the harder it is for hackers to crack. Thus, 12, 14, 15, and 16-character passwords are more secure than the standard 8-character ones.
- Avoid passwords based on personal information. Attackers can find personal information, such as birthdate and address online, increasing the likelihood of cyberattacks.
- Set unique passwords for different accounts. Use different passwords for various work accounts, so as not to compromise all your online resources in case one password gets exposed to identity thieves.
Encourage your healthcare management to reinforce security by using complex and strong passwords.
Conduct Frequent Training Of Healthcare Workers
Cyber threats have become a major concern for many institutions. That’s why executives are spending more on cybersecurity to prevent specific avenues of attack and protect their assets. It’s estimated that spending on cybersecurity reached about USD$150 billion in 2021. This accounts for a 12% increase from the previous year.
Additionally, according to Statista, the global security budget by companies is expected to increase by 55% as of 2022. Particularly, the medical industry is a sector that spends more on cybersecurity. This includes regular employee training programs to fend off evolving medical cybersecurity threats.
Ideally, HIPAA training is essential for doctors, nurses, accountants, secretaries, and other staff managing health records. Educate them on the risks of cybercrime, ways to avoid potential security breaches, and the importance to report any threats promptly. For example, staff should:
- Not access unknown links.
- Reject emails from unknown senders.
- Not download or install unknown applications or software.
If employees let their guard down, hackers will be able to have direct access to online resources. So, it’s crucial that staff members have a good grasp of cybersecurity measures. Aside from training them, conduct penetration testing to measure compliance.
With increased security threats in the healthcare industry, cybersecurity has become a top priority. As a medical professional, you need to do what you can to keep private medical information supervised and protected from unauthorised access. It will also help to conduct a regular risk assessment to identify any potential threats before attackers find the opportunity to exploit them.