Healthcare institutions understand the importance of cybersecurity in the modern world, but they sometimes underestimate the risks that come with data collection and analytics. This blog post will discuss ten ways healthcare institutions can prevent data breaches and cyberattacks. We’ll cover how they can monitor and control access to their networks and computing platforms and educate their employees about cybersecurity and digital hygiene.
Only Use Authentic And Legitimate Certificates
Hacker groups commonly target weak points in the authentication process, whether simply accepting any old email or password or using easy-to-guess admin passwords. These tactics make it much easier for a hacker to access a system, leaving you less time to defend against cybercrime. Strong authentication techniques, such as two-factor or multi-factor login, use secret questions and answers and authentication tokens such as one-time passwords or digital certificates. This makes it much more difficult for an intruder to enter your account, even if they get hold of your login details.
To stop this from happening, healthcare institutions should require all internal users, including contractors and IT staff, to use strong authentication techniques whenever they log in to internal systems. Strong authentication is also important for preventing cyberattacks from external sources, so having a two-way authentication mechanism, for example, using both a password and a digital certificate, is strongly recommended. This will help prevent anyone who doesn’t have permission to access your system from doing so.
Keep A Close Eye On Their Networks
The last thing healthcare institutions need is another person, or group of people, getting access to their sensitive data. One of the most common ways that cybersecurity breaches occur is via social engineering attacks, where an intruder logs into a system with the help of an unsuspecting employee. The attacker then navigates the system, gathering as much information as possible before ultimately exfiltrating it. This activity could easily happen if your institution doesn’t monitor its network closely. Ensure that all staff, students, and contractors with access to patient information are aware of the dangers of unauthorized network use and understand the repercussions of becoming a cybercrime target. Investing in tools to monitor networks and identify suspicious behavior is also important for preventing these attacks.
Regularly Monitor Their Networks For Attacks
One of the reasons why cybersecurity in healthcare is so important is because of the sheer volume of data handled daily by institutions’ networks. This makes it all the more important to monitor these networks for attacks on the software and the network layer. Identifying and removing malware from your network is vital to ensuring that your internet service provider is not blocking security-related websites. This could ultimately lead to less network traffic and fewer points of infiltration.
Malicious software, such as ransomware, can infect a network and hold users’ data hostage, demanding a ransom to be paid to remove it. This sort of activity goes hand-in-hand with cybercrime, so keeping a close eye on your networks for signs of ransomware infections is critical. Regularly monitoring for such infections is also important for spotting other types of attacks, such as VPNs used to circumvent security measures.
Educate Their Employees About Cybersecurity
Healthcare institutions have a lot of data, and many people have access to that data. This means that they are a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals. One of the most effective ways healthcare institutions can minimize the damage a data breach can cause is by educating their employees and ensuring they understand the risks of working with personal data.
This activity should start at the top, with the board of directors and senior management team. Ensure that everyone with access to patient data is aware of the risks of keeping sensitive information and that security is a top priority. Regularly educating employees and contractors about cybercrime and digital hygiene is also important for preventing future breaches. Having a secure network and monitoring for suspicious activity is also vital to ensure that employees understand the dangers posed by cybercrime and the importance of being vigilant about security.
Establish Strong And Simple Password Policies
Passwords are one of the simplest forms of strong authentication, and they are easy to remember for users who have a need to access multiple systems. Passwords should be changed frequently, and passwords that different users reuse should be avoided. This makes it much easier for intruders to access your system, as they don’t have to try and remember a complicated password.
Healthcare institutions should establish strong password policies that are easy to follow. For example, all passwords should be at least eight characters long and contain a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords should also be changed frequently, and users should be educated about the dangers of reusing passwords. Establishing and following strong password policies will help keep your network secure.
Regular Training Programs
It is important for healthcare institutions to have regular training sessions and to update their employees on the latest security threats and best practices. This is particularly important for employees with access to patient data, as they may not be as technologically advanced as you would like them to be. Regular training sessions should cover cybersecurity, handling sensitive data, and the use and proper handling of administrative accounts and passwords. You can also consider holding regular workshops and seminars for employees, as this is also an effective way to raise awareness about cybersecurity and the importance of being careful about what data they handle.
Keep Track Of Their Security Patches
Keeping track of all the updates that come along with using the latest software versions is critical for minimizing the risk of cybercrime. Healthcare institutions should make it a point to update their software as soon as a new version is released or a patch is made available to fix a vulnerability. This means they can keep a close eye on all the security patches that come along with using a certain piece of software and ensure that their systems are as secure as possible. You can also consider investing in automated systems that update your software and patch levels automatically, as this will free up time for your IT staff to focus on more important tasks.
Consider Using Multi-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication, or MFA, can be a very effective way to prevent hackers and cybercriminals from accessing your data. It is a common practice for major websites and online services to require users to enter a password, as well as provide access to their account via a one-time-only code delivered via a text message or via a security key fob. MFA adds an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for intruders to access your systems and data. Users may need to provide additional information, such as their phone number or email address, in case they lose their access codes.
Be Aware Of The Publicly Available Data Breach Disclosure Laws
Just because your data is publicly available does not mean it is no longer protected. Many countries have data freedom laws that require organizations to disclose certain instances of data breaches, as well as the number of individuals who have been affected. The important thing to remember is that if your data is kept private, it is still protected, even if it is kept in a secure facility or kept anonymously. Ensure that you are aware of these legal requirements and comply with them whenever possible.
Consider Using A VPN To Mask Their IP Address
Suppose your healthcare institution handles a lot of personal data. In that case, it is important to consider using a VPN to mask your IP address and prevent ISPs from identifying your browsing habits. Your VPN provider can advise you on measures to ensure that your personal data remains secure when browsing the internet. Using a VPN is also a great way to prevent hackers and cybercriminals from accessing your network and any other networks or systems you might have connected to.
Take Steps To Build Your Security
Healthcare institutions collect huge amounts of data on different aspects of patient care. These days, with the help of data analytics and sophisticated software, they can turn that data into useful information that can affect the quality of their services and the patient experience. However, this also makes their data more vulnerable to cyberattacks, which could result in significant financial and reputational losses.