The responsibility placed on healthcare professionals is immense. Not only is there pressure to provide stellar medical care, but there are endless rules, regulations, and laws to follow—after all, you are accountable for your patients as well as yourself.
From the details of your own business to the personal information of your clients, there is a tremendous amount of sensitive data at risk should your cybersecurity be compromised. Identity theft is a real concern, as is losing control of extremely private information that was never intended for public eyes.
This is why being aware of cybersecurity risks, making informed decisions, and ensuring your data is properly protected is so important as a healthcare provider. You have the potential to lose more than the average business, so your security must be more substantial.
Here are a few tips to help inform you of cybersecurity dangers and refine your preemptive measures.
While this may seem obvious—perhaps to the point it’s not worth talking about—weak passwords are still a plague in the world of data protection. This doesn’t mean that your password is as simple as “abc123,” but it does mean that it is overly simple—including a lack of variety in letters, symbols, and numbers, for example.
A way to combat this all-too-common breach of security is to implement password requirements. These requirements should include factors such as: uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, symbols, and a length over eight characters.
Sometimes, cybersecurity breaches can be attributed to simple misinformation or naivety. This could encompass anything from an incomplete understanding of how to properly store information to not being able to identify suspicious activities such as phishing scams. Malicious software can be cleverly disguised, leading to it actually being invited in by a careless click.
Human error accounts for approximately 75% of all security breaches. That’s an astoundingly high percentage that acts as a testament to the forgetfulness and, unfortunately, carelessness to which we humans are far too prone.
Again, human error does not necessarily equate malintent—more often innocent mistakes—but even honest failures can yield devastating results.
Precautions to Take
Inform Yourself and Your Office
Being conscious of common risks and how to identify them is the easiest and best way to mitigate those risks. Doing your own research on the matter—as well as potentially consulting with an expert—can lead to a heightened awareness of cybersecurity dangers and frequently-made mistakes. Once you have a grasp on the necessary knowledge, be sure to spread it to your coworkers and employees. Consider having an office-wide meeting or establishing a required workshop with cybersecurity as the focal point.
Understanding how data collection and storage works, as well as how it can be compromised, can be the difference between silly, careless mistakes and informed decision making.
Build in Security Measures
The majority of outside cybersecurity threats are sophisticated enough to slip past haphazard security measures without even breaking a sweat. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to have a system that is built-in rather than thrown together and bolted-on. In other words, be proactive rather than reactive.
To properly design and implement such protocols and cybersecurity measures, you must first accurately determine your most vulnerable points. You have to know your office and its needs inside and out in order to properly protect it.
Again, this may involve working with a trained professional who has a deeper knowledge and understanding of how such systems operate. Someone who makes their living analyzing needs and developing solutions to meet them can be an invaluable asset as you attempt to shore up your defenses.
As a healthcare provider, chances are you are painfully familiar with liability insurance. It’s become almost a hobby for patients to sue their doctors for malpractice, even if there was no malintent and factors outside of the doctor’s control were at play. Unfortunately, the same applies to security breaches.
Insurance is, of course, something you hope to never use. By following the tips in this article to effectively lower your risk of a security breach, you’re setting yourself up for success, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you do your research and acquire professional liability insurance that includes protective provisions for cybersecurity issues.
While insurance should be considered a last resort, it should be the first thing you take care of when renovating your cybersecurity measures.
Our Final Thoughts
Following this brief guide to identifying the cybersecurity risks for healthcare and consequently improving them is a good start, but it can only take you so far. The majority of us do not have a deep enough understanding of technology, the cloud, and other factors at play in cybersecurity, which is why we’ll leave you with this final piece of advice: talk to and/or employ a professional.
Protecting the data of your office, your employees, and most importantly, your patients is no small matter. That’s why the value of the insight and aid of an IT professional cannot be understated. They make a living by evaluating the specific needs of businesses and developing cybersecurity measures to properly address those needs.
As a healthcare professional, you can surely appreciate expertise—after all, you are an expert in your field. Just as you would not recommend a patient to an untrained surgeon or an unproven physical therapist, we would not recommend that you go at a complex issue like cybersecurity alone.