Even prior to the pandemic, the healthcare industry was highly targeted by cybercriminals because hospitals and their partner organizations possess highly sensitive information, such as patient data and confidential medical research. But the number of cyberattacks against healthcare organizations further skyrocketed in 2020 given the coronavirus crisis. State-backed Russian hackers, for example, attempted to steal COVID-19 vaccine research data from pharmaceutical companies, healthcare facilities, and research centers.
Unfortunately, security firm Kaspersky predicts that cyberattacks aimed at the healthcare industry will continue in 2021. This is why healthcare organizations like yours must take a multilayered approach to security, which includes the following measures:
1. Training staff on cybersecurity
Across all industries, the human element remains one of the biggest threats to cybersecurity as it is involved in 85% of data breaches. In other words, these data breaches happened because of attacks involving social action, such as phishing scams, business email compromise, or malware that has to be clicked and downloaded. Poor password habits, lost or stolen credentials, human error, and misuse of IT resources are also to blame for some of these data breaches.
Therefore, your first line of defense should be cybersecurity training for your personnel. They should be taught good cyber hygiene habits, such as setting strong unique passwords and being critical of every email and website. You should also teach them about cyberthreats to watch out for, such as phishing scams and ransomware. It’s best to use a combination of lectures, practical exercises, and threat simulations so your staff can truly understand and apply what they learn.
2. Implementing access controls
Limit access to healthcare data, applications, and other IT resources to users who need these to perform their jobs. For example, hospital accounts don’t need to know in-depth patient medical histories, so they shouldn’t have access to these.
To ensure that only authorized users have access to particular data and IT resources, you must have strong user authentication measures in place. Aside from requiring the use of complex passwords, implement multifactor authentication (MFA) as well. MFA will require users to prove their identity by providing two or more pieces of evidence, such as a one-time PIN sent to a mobile app, a fingerprint scan, or an answer to a security question. By requiring more than one authentication method, hackers will have more difficulty breaching accounts.
3. Monitoring and logging user activity
It’s important to monitor and log the activities of each user. What data, applications, and resources are they accessing? When are they accessing these, from where, and from which devices? By doing so, you’ll be able to quickly spot unusual user activity that may indicate a cyberattack, enabling you to defend against it.
Logs will also prove valuable when an incident occurs since they’ll enable you to determine its cause, the entry points used, and the extent of the damage. You can then identify weaknesses in your security measures and remedy them.
4. Encrypting data
To prevent unauthorized access to healthcare information, you must utilize encryption for data in transit and at rest. This way, if hackers manage to get hold of patient and other medical files, they would need to decrypt these first before they could get any value from the files. Since this is practically impossible without the decryption keys, their efforts would be futile.
5. Securing mobile devices
With the increasing use of mobile devices, relying on traditional perimeter-based security measures, such as firewalls, is no longer enough. You must ramp up your security efforts at the device level.
With a mobile device management solution, you can remotely monitor and easily roll out security measures to all work devices. Security measures may include:
- Managing settings and configurations
- Enforcing the use of complex passwords and MFA
- Running regular malware scans
- Installing of software updates and patches
- Ensuring that only company-vetted apps are installed
- Enabling the ability to remotely lock lost or stolen devices and wipe their data
6. Having a backup and disaster recovery strategy
Since healthcare organizations like yours rely heavily on data to operate, you must regularly back up your data. It’s best to keep three copies of all critical data on at least two different types of media and have at least one copy stored offline. You must also have failover systems in place that would allow you to continue essential functions during emergencies, such as a ransomware attack or IT downtime.
Let the experts of SpectrumWise implement all of these security solutions for you. With our help, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll stay safe from cyberthreats. Schedule your FREE consultation today.
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