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Healthcare cybersecurity tips to protect your data

Let's get right into it... It's been quite a month for Healthcare providers. Data breaches and ransomware attacks have increased drastically in recent years.

In 2019, two-thirds of healthcare settings in the UK became victims of data breaches.

In May 2021, all HSE sites were forced to shut down temporarily to protect their IT systems due to the biggest ransomware attack to date in the Republic of Ireland.

The District Health Boards' entire computer system was taken offline almost two weeks ago after their biggest-ever cyber attack on a New Zealand organisation.

Globally, thousands of surgeries and outpatient appointments have been cancelled. We recognise the utmost gravity of these events and we are here to support Healthcare providers where/when possible. We are proud of the progress we've made in assisting our HSE clients in rebuilding many of their healthcare systems. We understand it's a journey to recover and rebuild. With that in mind, here are 10 tips that will help improve healthcare cybersecurity in your organisation and reduce the chance of attacks.

  • Regularly implement employee training

90% of data breaches in the healthcare system are a result of human error. Regularly training medical professionals and other hospital employees on security and patient data privacy regulations is a vital step in reducing the chances of a breach.  

  • Restricting access to data & applications

Implementing access controls bolsters healthcare data protection by restricting access to patient information and certain applications to only those users who require access to perform their jobs.

  • Logging & monitoring Use

Logging all access and usage data is also crucial, enabling providers and business associates to monitor which users are accessing what information, applications, and other resources, when, and from what devices and locations.

  • Encrypt your hardware & software 

Encryption of your data means that, should any information be intercepted by hackers, they will be unable to read and use it. This offers an essential extra barrier of protection against any data breaches that may occur. Be sure to encrypt your hardware as well as your software, as a simple password can be used to decrypt software data. Hardware encryption processes, on the other hand, are separate from the rest of the device and are therefore more secure.

  • Keep your device safe & create a strict BYOD policy 

If your hospital has a BYOD policy, review and amends it to ensure that it also follows the guidelines set out by HIPAA. This should include guidelines on user-authentication practices, installing firewalls and other security software, app regulation, and so on.  

  • Back-up data to a secure, offsite Location
Offsite data backups are recommended, with strict controls for data encryption, access, and other best practices to ensure that data backups are secured. Offsite data backups are an essential component of disaster recovery, too.
  • Perform risk assessments on a regular basis

Not knowing where your vulnerabilities make it much harder to protect yourself against attack. You won’t have a clear understanding of your organisation’s security issues if you fail to conduct risk assessments on a regular basis.

  • Segment/subnet your wireless networks  

By segmenting or subnetting your wireless networks. For example, by having one wireless network for public use and another for patient information, you are significantly less likely to incur a data breach. It makes it harder for hackers to perpetrate an attack throughout your entire network. 

As a bonus, this will also significantly improve performance as traffic using the network will be lower! 

  • Safely dispose of confidential information 

Any patient information that is no longer required must be destroyed in a secure way to ensure that hackers do not have access to it, whether this is through electronic deletion or physical shredding of documents.   

  • Have a plan to prevent & recover from data breaches

To be ready for the aftermath of a successful intrusion, key members of your team should develop a plan for getting the system back up and running, confident that the cloud-based backup of your data will be clean and safe to use.

We hope you find these tips helpful, please feel free to follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with our latest news or contact us for more information.