How to Prevent Data Breaches in Healthcare

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Healthcare has become a prime target for cyber criminals. In 2022, 94% of organizations reported experiencing a cyber attack. Thankfully, not all of them ended in success. However, it illustrates the degree of risk facing healthcare organizations in the digital space. So how can a healthcare organization work to prevent costly and damaging data breaches? 

The Risks of Data Breaches, and How They Occur 

No matter what sort of IT infrastructure your practice uses, you face some risk of data breach. Whether it be through ransomware, malware, or one of the numerous phishing methods, cyber criminals will try and find a way to break into your digital environment. The reasons are, unsurprisingly, financial. 

Successful data breaches net criminals significant amounts of money. Typically this either comes from a ransom of your data, or through the selling of that data to other criminals on the internet. The costs for the organizations affected continue to grow, with an average data breach cost now numbering in the millions of dollars. 

Phishing, and its numerous variants, remains one of the most common ways data breaches occur. Essentially, a criminal targets individuals in the organization typically impersonating an organization or individual. They work to gain personal information and passwords, and if they succeed, they then gain access into your network. 

On the other hand, malware and ransomware attacks tend to target the software itself. Hackers search for ‘zero day exploits,’ or unpatched vulnerabilities, in your IT or cloud network. If they find one, they use it as a backdoor into your system. Once there, they steal or lock your data, and sell it if their demands are not met. Ransomware in particular poses a real and growing threat to healthcare organizations. 

How To Prevent Data Breaches in Healthcare, A Step by Step Guide 

While this may make it seem like the situation is dire, that doesn’t have to be the case. Following a series of relatively simple steps can protect your organization from these threats. 

    1. Conduct a security audit. HIPAA rules already mandate risk assessments, and adding a full cybersecurity review on it in tandem is good practice. Since the cybersecurity environment evolves constantly, you should plan regular security audits. 
    2. Teach your employees about data protection and cybersecurity. Anti-phishing initiatives and cybersecurity lessons go a long way in helping employees protect themselves and their organizations. 
    3. Update regularly. You should never skip a software update, as these often address zero day exploits. In addition, make sure to keep your hardware up to date. Technology becomes more vulnerable as it ages, and starts to become incompatible with the most resilient security software. 
    4. Follow a zero-trust security architecture model. This practice is more relevant if your organization utilizes the cloud. If it does, you can set up varying degrees of permissions, which ensures accounts only have access to the data they need. Limiting access helps to minimize the damage if one of these accounts is compromised. 
    5. Operate separate networks. Your employees and their patients’ personal devices constitute a major security risk. An easy fix for this is to operate a separate wi-fi network, one for internal business devices, and one for everything else. 
    6. Encryption. Using a system that encrypts data prevents it from being accessed if the person doesn’t have the proper encryption key. As a bonus, stolen encrypted data doesn’t count as a HIPAA data breach, as the person with the data likely won’t be able to use it. 
    7. Find a Trusted Provider – Make sure to properly vet all of your IT providers. Some maintain security better than others. If their architecture or security processes are shoddy, their software will be too. 
    8. Create a Response PlanIn the event of a data breach, there should be a clear plan in place on how to react. Data backups should be in place, and there should be a clear process outlined to determine how the incident occurred. 

Record Nations Helps Protect Your Data 

If you’re looking for a trusted and secure provider, Record Nations can help. Give us a call at (866) 385-3706 or fill out the form on the page, and we’ll connect you with a partner that fits the needs of your organization.

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