Cybersecurity in healthcare entails safeguarding electronic information and assets against illegal access, use, and disclosure. Cybersecurity has three goals: preserving the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information, sometimes known as the “CIA triad.”
In today’s computerized environment, cybersecurity in healthcare and information protection is critical for enterprises to function normally. EHR systems, e-prescribing systems, practice management support systems, clinical decision support systems, radiology information systems, and computerized physician order entry systems are all used by many healthcare companies. Thousands of gadgets that make up the Internet of Things must also be safeguarded. Smart elevators, smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, infusion pumps, remote patient monitoring devices, and other equipment are examples. These are some examples of assets that healthcare companies commonly hold, in addition to those listed below.
Email is the most used method of communication among healthcare businesses. Within email systems, all types of information are transacted, generated, received, transmitted, and maintained. Individuals’ mailbox storage capabilities tend to rise as they store various types of important information such as intellectual property, financial information, patient information, and so on. As a result, email security is a critical component of healthcare cybersecurity.
Phishing is a major risk. Phishing is the root cause of most major security issues. Unwitting consumers may unintentionally click on a bad link or open a harmful attachment in a phishing email, infecting their computer systems with malware. In certain cases, malware can spread to other machines over the computer network. The phishing email may also attempt to get sensitive or confidential information from the receiver. Phishing emails are extremely effective because they usually trick the receiver into doing the desired action, such as giving sensitive or private information, clicking on a harmful link, or opening a dangerous file. As a result, continuous security awareness training is critical to thwarting phishing efforts.
Unauthorized physical access to a computer or device can compromise it. There are physical approaches that may be used to hack a gadget, for example. Physically utilizing a gadget may circumvent technical controls that are otherwise in place. It is therefore critical to physically secure a device to protect its functionality, appropriate setup, and data.
One example is leaving a laptop alone while traveling or working elsewhere. Careless behavior may result in the theft or loss of the laptop. Another example is an evil maid attack, in which a device is changed in an undetected manner so that it may subsequently be accessed by the cybercriminal, such as the installation of a keylogger to capture sensitive information, such as credentials.
Legacy systems are ones that the manufacturer no longer supports. Applications, operating systems, and other legacy systems may be included. One difficulty for healthcare cybersecurity is that many firms have a large legacy system footprint. The drawback of legacy systems is that they are frequently no longer supported by the manufacturer, resulting in a lack of security patches and other upgrades.
Legacy systems may persist inside businesses because upgrading them is too expensive or an upgrade is not available. Operating system makers may retire platforms, and healthcare institutions may lack the cybersecurity funds to upgrade systems to currently supported versions. Legacy operating systems are common in medical equipment. Outdated operating systems may also exist to assist in the support of legacy applications that have no successor.
Healthcare industry cybersecurity solutions
The healthcare business is now losing momentum in its fight against cybercrime. This industry is susceptible because of outdated computing systems and a scarcity of experienced cybersecurity personnel, as well as a rise in linked medical equipment. Technological advancements in health care equipment, systems, and procedures have outpaced advancements in backend support systems that store vital patient information. The present worldwide epidemic is exacerbating these issues. “With healthcare systems under continual strain throughout the SARS-CoV-2 worldwide pandemic, hospitals and healthcare institutions around the world have also been attacked by a surge of cyberattacks, including ransomware assaults,” Bitdefender Labs, a renowned cybersecurity provider, stated in May 2020. While officials have already warned that hospitals, governments, and universities may be more concerned about losing data and access to critical systems, Bitdefender telemetry shows that the number of cyberattacks and ransomware incidents directly targeting healthcare has increased significantly in recent months.
According to Bitdefender telemetry, the number of cyberattacks identified at hospitals surged by over 60% in March compared to February. This is the greatest rise in our worldwide evolution of cyberattacks discovered at hospitals recorded in the last year, indicating that hackers have utilized the epidemic to launch these efforts.
Healthcare cybersecurity solutions should include safeguards that are superior to those provided by most enterprises. In terms of the level of protection given, these systems and devices should be comparable to, if not superior to, those employed in financial institutions.
To accomplish this aim, healthcare institutions must evaluate each new platform suggested in terms of the medical advantages delivered to their patients as well as the dangers of cyberattacks.
How Can Healthcare IT Cybersecurity Be Improved
Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. Many recent, alarming breaches of healthcare data demonstrate that healthcare institutions are an appealing target for hackers. Health systems are the keepers of protected health information (PHI), a significant resource that thieves might utilize to commit identity theft. Staying ahead of the threat necessitates a collaborative corporate effort. Here are a few critical strategies to improve your healthcare IT cybersecurity.
Establish a Culture of Health IT Security
To keep sensitive healthcare data secure, everyone must be “all in” on cybersecurity. Data security must be prioritized by leaders as a company value. Documenting your company’s commitment to security through suitable protocols is a wonderful place to start. Smart methods, as well as adequate workforce and funds, are required to keep ahead of prospective dangers. Security should be incorporated into your strategic plan as well as your budgeting process.
Mobile Device Security
In healthcare, mobile devices are rapidly being employed. In a recent poll of worldwide healthcare IT decision-makers, 90% said their firm was adopting or preparing to undertake a mobile device strategy. While mobile device use has been linked to greater patient satisfaction and staff efficiency, there are some risks. Data encryption and HIPAA compliance are at the top of the priority list.
For administration and compliance, a mobile device management system (MDMS) is required. Unfortunately, more than half of the IT leaders polled expressed worry that their present MDMS did not provide adequate protection. To reduce hazards, some businesses use an add-on solution for mobile content management that allows for secure file sharing while simultaneously serving as an authentication tool. An all-in-one corporate mobility management system is another growing solution.
Keep your software and operating systems up to date.
A haphazard approach to software upgrades and security fixes exposes enterprises to unneeded hazards. When software upgrades are deployed, they notify everyone—both users and hackers—that the prior version contains vulnerabilities that may be exploited.
As if data security concerns weren’t enough, having obsolete operating systems on medical equipment might significantly limit a healthcare system’s capacity to provide effective treatment. A virus-infected MRI scanner, for example, can result in delayed diagnosis. If the hacked gadget is network-capable, hackers may utilize it to gain access to the larger system.
It is important to create a proactive plan for software upgrades for all relevant systems, including desktop, mobile, and IoT devices. Updating anti-virus software can aid in the detection of possible problems. It is also critical to guarantee that employees cannot install software on their own without prior clearance.
Make preparations for an Inevitable Breach
As assaults get more sophisticated, the ideal strategy is to prepare for the inevitable breach while also striving to avoid it. Compliance alone does not guarantee data security. Continuous risk assessments are required to detect and close potential entry points and security holes in organizational systems, procedures, and equipment.
A comprehensive mitigation and recovery strategy should detail how your business will seek to recover lost data. The strategy should include specifics on how you intend to notify affected persons and others. The objective will be to publicly demonstrate that data loss is being managed carefully and correctly.
Staff Training at Regular Intervals
All personnel linked with the healthcare system, including physicians, employees, volunteers, and suppliers, should get security awareness training regularly. Using real-life hacking and phishing instances is the best technique. Some corporations aggressively push their workers to use them as a teaching tool. Employees must also be aware of the procedure for reporting suspicious activity.
Use Reliable Partners Who Put Health IT Security First.
The strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link. While this expression refers to team members, it also applies to the partners you bring into your healthcare system. Your organization’s commitment to protecting PHI and other personal information should be supported by software and equipment.
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