9 Cybersecurity Healthcare Tips to Secure Private Health Data

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Benefits Of Healthcare IT Services

Over the past few years, data security has become a vulnerable aspect of the healthcare industry. Health facilities have become targets of cybercriminals. They face various forms of risks from:

  • Email phishing attacks
  • Complacency with security policies
  • Legacy systems invasion
  • Supplier software exposure

Thus, it’s necessary to take appropriate measures to prevent healthcare facilities breaches. 

Here are 9 cybersecurity tips healthcare systems can take to protect their data.

Read on for the details.

1. Adhering to HIPAA Rules and Regulations

Healthcare providers across the US need to comply with HIPAA rules to safeguard sensitive and private patient data. Failure to comply will have them face HIPAA violation fines

To be safe, they need to abide by the rules mentioned in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Thus, it only makes sense to seek HIPAA compliance services to help them through the process.

HIPAA constitutes two components that relate to healthcare data protection. These are:

  • The HIPAA Privacy Rule demands safeguards to protect patients’ privacy. The health information includes medical records, health insurance, medications, and other private details.

The rule limits the amount of information to be disclosed to third-party vendors. There should be prior authorization from the patients’ side.

  • The HIPAA Security Rule sets guidelines and standards for the administrative, physical, and technical handling of health-protected information. This rule emphasizes securing, using, receipting, and maintaining patients’ electronically protected health data by HIPAA-covered entities.

It’s necessary to ensure data flowing in and out of the healthcare systems meets HIPAA      compliance requirements. These requirements are linked to privacy, security, enforcement and breach notification when a breach occurs.

Any app you design for your practice should also comply with HIPAA rules. You can also take a HIPAA certification free course to be conversant with all the rules and the regulations. 

2. Back-Up the Data

Backing up your healthcare data would ensure that you can access it if a data breach occurs. 

Ensure you have a tried and tested recovery in place. It needs to be authentic and available to you all the time. It could be on the web or an external device. 

With an excellent data backup in mind, you lower the impact brought about by data breaches, thus making it easy to resume normal operations with minimal disruptions.

Also, it’s necessary to ensure that backups are geographically split up. They need to be detached from the production system to ensure they aren’t linked directly to compromised systems.

3. Constantly Conducting Risk Assessments

With regular risk assessment, it’s easy to spot weak points hackers could target and take the necessary measures.

Any areas that could be a point of interest to cybercriminals can invoke an attack. Examples include shortcomings in employee education and inadequacy in the security posture.

4. Educate Healthcare Staff

9 Cybersecurity Healthcare Tips to Secure Private Health Data

Simple human negligence or error can lead to disastrous and expensive consequences for healthcare organizations. Security awareness training will equip the healthcare employees with the required knowledge in making smart decisions and being cautious when handling patients’ data. 

You should never stop educating your employees. Ensure they understand the repercussions of data breaches in the healthcare system. They should learn how to prevent a threat and deal with a breach if it happens. Train both old and new employees on updated data security measures.

5. Limit Access to Health Records

Only authorized individuals who work with medical records should access them. They need to follow the proper procedures when logging in and logging off.

Here are other ways to ensure validation of information to the healthcare systems:

  • Only the authorized user should have the pin and password information.
  • Have one item that only the authorized user could possess, like a key or card.
  • A unique feature from the authorized user like biometrics (fingerprints, facial recognition, or eye scanning).
  • Use of multi-factor authentication.

6. Regularly Update Your Software

Hackers are always on the lookout for new ways to access the data. If your system is outdated, it’s easy for hackers to attack. Updating your healthcare system helps root out system bugs, thus, lowering the risks of cyberattacks in your organization.

Software updates assist your system run more smoothly. It provides fixes for all difficult-to-use tools. It also ensures your system is compatible with the latest technologies.

7. Secure Messaging Systems and Wireless Networks

Wireless connections make you vulnerable to attacks. If you offer free Wi-Fi to patients together with a messaging system, it leaves you more vulnerable. 

Always create automated procedures to update users and devices. This will ensure that your ex-employees don’t access your data and that new technology is always protected.

8. Encrypt data

One of the most valuable ways of protecting your data is through encryption. It’s necessary to encrypt data at rest and data in transit. Encrypting data leaves your organization’s network protected. This makes it hard for cybercriminals to decipher information even if, by chance, they access the data.

HIPAA offers recommendations on how to encrypt the data. Fortunately, it doesn’t require health care organizations to implement data encryption measures. However, businesses and healthcare providers can pick the encryption method and the measures necessary to protect the organization’s data.

 As recommended in the HHS HIPAA security series, you need to ask yourself appropriate questions first. This will help determine the encryption and decryption methods to use.  

 9. Take Note of the Devices that Use your Data

Several laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices access data in a healthcare setup. The more devices are accessing the data, the more vulnerable it becomes.

Thus, to reduce the risk of data breaches, have your IT team assess each device’s risk when accessing the data.

Also, different health practitioners use smartphones to access information to treat patients. Here are some of the ways to incorporate security measures in mobile devices.

  • Using strong passwords.
  • Monitoring email accounts and any attachments to prevent unauthorized data or prevent malware infection.
  • Managing devices, configurations, and settings.
  • Educating users about mobile device security practices.

Wrapping Up

Cybercriminals target healthcare care facilities to conduct their malicious activities. To prevent suffering from these attacks, take the necessary measures. Ensure to train all the staff on how to identify and prevent an attack in case one happens.

Back up your data, and don’t forget to comply with HIPAA rules. Safeguarding your patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) should be your priority.

Remember, a small loophole can lead to a cyberattack, destroying years of trust you’ve built with your customers.