As hackers continue to target healthcare data, security needs to be top priority.

hackers-target-healthcare

Most healthcare service providers don’t realize how vulnerable their IT systems are to cyber attacks. One of the contributing factors to data breach is the conversion from paper records to electronic files. Despite many benefits, there is no denying that it increases the risk of data theft. And since stolen healthcare information can be used to commit identity theft and financial crimes, securing healthcare data has become more important than ever.

According to healthcare security experts, healthcare data breaches are on the rise due to the high prices the data can command on the black market.

Patient Information more valueable than credit cards

Until now, cybercriminals’ focus has been on stealing financial data, including credit card numbers and personal information. But things are changing fast, the result of financial institutions fortifying their database and raising client awareness of the problem. This is making it more difficult for hackers to steal financial data, let alone use them. Banks are doing a good job protecting their customers by quickly identifying and canceling compromised credit cards, and implementing chip and PIN technology on cards.

Stronger data protection measures have forced criminals to turn their attention to medical data, which is typically much less secure. The perception is that due to limited resources, healthcare doesn't does not manage cyber risk as well as other sectors.  Patient data includes an individual’s date of birth, medical and physical records and social security number - information that can’t be easily reset, and that is significantly more valuable than credit card data. 

Securing healthcare data

Healthcare data has become more attractive to criminals, and it’s critical that medical institutions take necessary precautions to secure their patients’ information from data thieves. Here are some best practice measures to secure healthcare data.

  •          Protect the network and Wi-Fi - As hackers use a variety of tools to break into IT systems and obtain medical records, healthcare organizations need to invest in secure firewalls and antivirus software to deploy on their healthcare devices. Network segregation is also a wise move so that, in the event that a breach does occur, the attacker can’t instantly access all of your organization’s information at once.
  •          Educate employees - Staff members need to receive lessons about information security, including setting passwords, spam filters, protection against phishing, and other kinds of data breach methods.
  •          Data encryption - Encrypting data is one of the safest ways to secure it. Healthcare institutions can encode patients information in such a way that only authorized users can access it. Multi encryption is also an effective way to keep out intruders.
  •          Physical security - Most healthcare institutions still retain their patients’ records on paper, stored in cabinets. Ensure that all loopholes are covered by installing surveillance cameras and other physical security controls, such as electronic door locks.

It is of crucial importance for healthcare providers to secure sensitive information, in order to gain and retain the trust of your patients. If you want to know how your organization can better protect your patients information, contact us at 877-843-5767.

Rose Doherty

Written by Rose Doherty