The healthcare industry has become a massive target for cybercriminals. According to a Beyond Compliance: Cyber Threats and Healthcare report, most healthcare providers have failed to identify easily exploitable vulnerabilities. As such, cyber breaches end up occurring.
A 2018 Mid Horizon Report also reveals that all web applications connected to vital health data are susceptible to data breaches.
There is an increasing need for healthcare providers to put in place measures to protect their systems from security vulnerabilities. This article gives you a starting point. Use the following cybersecurity tips to fortify the walls of your healthcare networks.
Cybersecurity Tips for Healthcare Industry
· Use Strong Passwords
The first line of defense that will protect your health care networks from unauthorized access is the use of strong passwords. Not all passwords will work for you. That is why we insist on using strong and unique passwords.
Get this right- strong, and unique passwords will not prevent hackers from trying to gain access to your network. However, they will slow them down from successfully accessing your network, ultimately discouraging them.
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You are probably wondering what I mean by strong and unique passwords. Strong passwords are passwords that can withstand password vulnerabilities such as brute force attacks and dictionary attacks.
To protect your healthcare website from unauthorized access, you will need to implement the best password practices.
Good passwords are characterized by length and complexity. An ideal password should be eight or more characters in length.
The password should combine numbers, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and special characters such as exclamation marks, question marks, full stops, or hyphens. A hacker will find it hard to break through such a password.
A unique password is one that has not been used anywhere else. It would help a lot if you used a different password for each account. Using similar passwords will give a hacker an easy time. All a hacker will need to do is get hold of a single password and access all your accounts.
You must ensure that you configure your system to change passwords regularly. Changing passwords regularly will help to keep the hackers off the grid. Last but not least, you must ensure that you store your passwords safely.
The best way will be to use password manager tools or memorize the passwords. Writing them down or storing them in your browsers makes your system vulnerable to attacks.
For the safety of your healthcare website, ensure that you adhere to these best practices. You must also ensure that your customers and employees adhere to the best password practices.
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· Use a Secure Connection- HTTPS Connections
If you have a medical website, then you must have an SSL certificate. SSL certificates are the indispensable ingredients without which a website security strategy is incomplete.
The certificate will help you to secure all the sensitive details that your web visitors share with you, such as their health details, medical records, credit card information, financial records, among many others.
The SSL certificate encrypts the communication between your site servers and the visitor’s end. No intruder will be able to intercept or read and understand the information being transmitted.
You must acquire an SSL certificate if you want your medical website’s data to enjoy such kind of anonymity. SSL certificates come at affordable prices. You do not have to go for the most expensive SSL certificate. Even the cheapest SSL certificate will offer you the desired encryption levels.
Some of the best SSL certificate brands that will work for your healthcare website include; GlobalSign certificates, RapidSSL certificates, GeoTrust SSL certificates, and Comodo SSL certificates.
For the utmost security of your medical website, you must ensure that you acquire an SSL certificate. It will help you protect your data from attacks and threats such as Man In the middle attacks.
· Employee Training and Education
The human factor remains one of the biggest hazards in cybersecurity across all industries. Some of the most devastating attacks that have hit the healthcare industry in the past have all resulted from intentional or unintentional insider threats. Employee errors and negligence can lead to cyberattacks.
The best solution in avoiding such cases is to educate employees and staff on the best code of conduct and best practices that will help them stay secure and keep your healthcare network secure.
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Employee training and awareness will help equip your staff with all the requisite knowledge and skills necessary for staying safe from actions that might lead to errors and cyberattacks.
The training program will also establish a culture of security for all your stakeholders. It would be best to have regular training programs to equip your staff with the latest security solution and prevention measures.
A cybersecurity training and awareness program will help you prevent some insider threats. You can use the program to warn employees who might have ill intentions. You should tell them the consequences they will face if they try anything malicious. In doing so, you will be stopping any insider threats.
· Conduct Regular System and Software Updates
Although it might look like an inconvenient and hectic task, conducting regular system and software updates is one of the most critical cybersecurity measures that can significantly impact the security of your medical networks.
Cybersecurity is a cat and mouse game. Hackers identify the weak points; developers fix the weak points and release a new version that addresses the weak points.
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Running on outdated software versions will make any intruder easily access your network. It is like choosing to stay with a vulnerability that could easily cause a cyber breach. You must install software updates once they have been released and tested.
· Data Backups
There are things humans cannot avoid. Fire, floods, earthquakes, and man-made disasters, including data breaches, are things we cannot avoid. All we can do is hope and pray that they do not occur.
Healthcare records and all assets within your medical facility should be protected from such occurrences. There are two vital aspects of achieving this- creating regular and reliable data backups and having a sound recovery plan.
A reliable data backup plan is one that you can count on to take your medical system back to where it was before the unprecedented event. It is the backup file that will come to your rescue whenever things go south.
Every healthcare provider should, however, mind the storage source of the data. Today, we have so many data storage options that will work perfectly for you. Cloud storage systems are emerging as the most favorable sources for data backup files.
Whichever source you choose to work with, you must ensure that it will offer effectiveness and speedy recoveries during data restorations.
Finally, because regular data backups might seem hectic, I recommend setting up automatic data backups. This way, you do not have to worry about doing the task yourself.
· Install and Maintain Anti-virus Software
Being a medical provider, you are probably more concerned about the biological virus to the extent of forgetting the computer virus. One of the leading hacking techniques that hackers employ today is viruses and related codes that exploit computer vulnerabilities.
The nature of the computing environment has made these vulnerabilities ubiquitous. As such, even the latest operating systems with advanced security features will still be vulnerable to viruses.
Additionally, server systems and computer networks can easily be vulnerable to innocent external sources such as flash drives, emails, and CDs. Therefore, it is vital to use an evolving security tool that can be updated easily to meet the changing needs.
Anti-virus software is a widely available security tool that can help you detect and prevent viruses. Its efficiency and cost-effectiveness make it well-suited to improve cybersecurity for healthcare providers.
With anti-virus software, you will prevent data losses, website defacements, and you can also stop hackers from taking control over your network. You must ensure that you acquire one to help prevent viruses.
You must remember to constantly update the antivirus software to meet the changing security needs.
· Conduct Regular Risk Assessments and Security Audits
As Michael Brown, a technology content writer at Academized and Essayroo, puts it: “Performing regular risk assessments to identify your system’s vulnerabilities will allow you to effectively protect yourself from cyber-attacks.”
Conducting regular security audits and risk assessments plays a significant role in identifying the weak spots and system vulnerabilities that could potentially cause an attack.
For example, the cybersecurity assessment to your healthcare facility will reveal the shortcoming in employee training and education program, insufficiencies in the vendor security postures, the ineffectiveness of firewalls or anti-malware software, improper password hygiene, among many others.
Once you uncover the vulnerable spots, you must quickly patch the vulnerabilities before hackers discover them and use them to carry out a cyberattack.
By proactively and frequently evaluating the security posture of your healthcare facility, you will mitigate potential threats and avoid costly data breaches that could potentially take you out of the industry.
· Use Multiple Security Layers
Of great essence in the cybersecurity of the healthcare industry is the implementation of a layered defense system. A layered defense system is where a hacker will have to pass through multiple security walls and measures before finally conducting a successful attack on your system.
Multiple security walls will deny hackers full and quick access to your system. A hacker will easily give up on finding multiple security layers on your network.
To strengthen the healthcare industry’s security, healthcare providers should not rely on a single or few security measures.
They must implement several measures to strengthen their healthcare facility network security, websites, and systems. As a rule of thumb, the more cybersecurity measures a system has, the more secure it will be.
The healthcare industry is slowly becoming the hotbed of cyber attackers. Criminals want patients’ records, health details, and much other sensitive information for their benefit. Let this be a wake-up call for all medical providers to rise to the occasion and put in place adequate security measures to protect their networks and systems from cyber intruders. This article has explained eight of the best measures that are effective in the healthcare industry’s security.