Healthcare Information Security Must be a Priority
Rampant digitization of information in the healthcare sector has improved the healthcare services; however, it has come with a dangerous side effect: information security risk. In 2016, information security breaches in the healthcare sector affected more than 27 million patient records, as reported by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and CyberScout. The next few years aren’t expected to be any better for the healthcare industry.
In light of the sensitive nature of healthcare data and the mounting information security risks, it is critical for healthcare providers to have a robust and reliable information security service in place. The strategies should not only react and protect the healthcare data but also foresee and prevent any offensives launched by cyber criminals.
Hackers are Using Creative Ways to Steal Healthcare Data
Hackers are always busy improving their techniques and approaches. They are using creative ways to identify and exploit even the smallest loopholes in your systems and networks.
Healthcare data is greatly rewarding for hackers. They can sell stolen healthcare data on the black market, use it in frauds, sell it to foreign agencies, sell patient identity information to other criminals, and use the data in illegal financial transactions.
Given the complex approaches being used by cyber criminals to steal healthcare information, hospitals and healthcare facilities must have unfailing information security in place. Only the best information security experts can protect your organization’s valuable data.
Protecting Patient Information is Challenging
There are many people who argue that cost reduction is the most challenging factor for healthcare facilities. The reality is that protecting patient information is more important and challenging that cost reduction. In order to safeguard your healthcare information, you need to have a solid information security strategy and plan in place. Your cyber security service needs to be proactive. It should be able to detect and thwart an offensive before it actually happens.
A good information security service will take into account the inventory and monitoring of your healthcare information. It will assess how the data is captured, stored, used, handles, and transmitted between the departments, on the cloud, on the systems, in the data centers, and on the network. It will then come up with a custom tailored information security solution for your facility.
Ransomware in Healthcare
Hackers are increasingly hijacking the data of hospitals and healthcare facilities in a cyber crime called ransomware. They will not let you access the data until you pay them money. Ransomware shook the healthcare sector in 2016, taking several healthcare facilities hostage, resulting in business downtime, and ripping them off their money.
In February 2016, hackers held hostage the healthcare data of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. The hospital ended up paying 40 bitcoins ($17,000) to get the data decryption key from the hackers. The incident resulted in a week-long downtime for the facility.
Third-Party Stakeholders Increase the Risks
Healthcare facilities mostly operate by having contractual obligations with third parties. At times, it becomes critical to provide access to or share certain healthcare data with the third-party stakeholders. Not doing so can result in poor service or operation.
While third parties can help improve your service and operations, they pose a security risk. You should have a proper information security policy in place to govern the data you share with your stakeholders and make information security provisions and responsibilities part of the contract. Third parties should access, store, use, and manage the data by following their security responsibilities.
Insecure Mobile Apps and Email
Another reason why information security is important for the healthcare sector is the use of insecure mobile apps and email. Apps and email are critical to staying competitive in the changing healthcare industry, but they also present you with information security risks. Healthcare services are using mobile apps and email to ask for information. A minor loophole in the apps and email can lead to a breach of security.
Remember, the possible outcomes of overlooking information security service in the healthcare sector can be severe. You must pay attention to cyber security if you rely on the digitization of healthcare information for your operations. Just in case you are not aware, the South Shore Hospital in Massachusetts agreed to pay $750,000 in damages after accusations that the facility failed to secure important healthcare data of about 80,000 patients.