Healthcare has gradually been digitalizing its processes and records. The 2019 pandemic worked to push it along faster along the digital conversion road. Digital systems appear to be the future of healthcare. However, according to statistics, in 2020 alone, there were a recorded number of 1001 data breaches while data exposures affected an alarming 155.8 million people. These data security failures were a result of simply not employing sufficient security measures.
The consequences of healthcare data being compromised are massive. We asked cybersecurity experts to share data protection methods in healthcare. Implementing these methods could potentially save our data, and prevent cyberattacks in healthcare.
To strengthen your healthcare data security, Aliza Vigderman, recommends:
- “Use encrypted storage: To store this sensitive data, use encrypted cloud or local storage through a micro-SD card, hard drive, etc. The encryption should be end-to-end and should use AES-256, the current industry standard.
- “Use strong passwords: Protect the storage with a strong password that includes 12 to 16 characters and a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Never share this password over the internet; if possible, do it in person.
- “Add authentication: If it’s available, add two or multi-factor authentication to the storage account to prevent unauthorized access.
- “Limit access: Let as few people access the information as possible, only essential employees.
- “Use a VPN: If you’re storing the data online, connect to a VPN to encrypt your web activity and your device’s IP address.
- “Use antivirus software: Antivirus software will block your data from spyware, ransomware, and other cyber attacks.
- “Use a virtual file shredder: Once you have to get rid of the sensitive healthcare data files, instead of deleting them, put them through a virtual file shredder to rewrite the files completely.”
Aliza Vigderman is the digital security website; Security.org’s Senior Editor and Industry Analyst.
- EHRs: “When looking to upgrade your healthcare data security, there are two main types of software that are necessary for ensuring effective data protection. The first one is the use of electronic health records that come paired with the right security features. The good news is that most certified EHRs will often come with their own standardized security features to ensure data security is maintained. However, you need to always ensure that the tool has been ONC-ATCB certified, which means that it has fully passed all official tests needed to keep health data secure. Moreover, most EHRs will usually come with password protection like two-factor authentication, and will also provide data encryption that makes transferring patient data more secure.
- Cloud Security: “Besides ensuring that you have a secure EHR solution set in place, the other side of the data security software coin is implementing cloud security. These systems are essentially designed towards automating many of the processes that are associated with data security. Some of the most common features of this type of software include Threat detection and response, which essentially utilizes analytics and other tools to quickly identify attacks as they are happening and help users respond quickly to better protect their data. Moreover, they also offer malware protection to keep healthcare data safe from malicious software. There is also file integrity monitoring which makes sure that all data is secure and protected against unauthorized access.”
Eden Cheng, Founder of WeInvoice
- Reduce Overlapping Technology, Implement Single Sign-on, Monitoring Insider Threats, Automating Processes: “COVID and WFH made it more difficult for healthcare companies to meet compliance standards—they expanded into too many cloud systems, and should reduce overlapping technology. There was a massive acceleration that the industry wasn’t ready for, and it made legacy machines susceptible to attack. These companies need to do things like implement single sign-on across their organizations, take more of a proactive role in monitoring insider threats using user behavior analytics, and start automating processes wherever possible- starting with data plumbing. For so long, everything has been DIY in healthcare, and that makes these organizations a step behind when cyberattacks hit the news. Using a platform like Fletch can help organizations monitor insider threats, evaluate their cloud posture, and know where they stand when a cybersecurity threat emerges in the news.”
Cybersecurity expert; Grant Wernick, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Fletch, a company that is pioneering a new category called Ready-to-Use Data Intelligence.
While ‘going digital’ may be the future of all industries, security issues cannot be ignored and are very relevant. If we hope to continue progressing towards a more digitalized system, we need to consider all digital and cybersecurity aspects along the way.
Patient data is meant to be confidential and critical, so healthcare needs to collaborate with the best cybersecurity professionals to ensure their data is secured in all scenarios. The implications of a security reach are too significant to neglect this aspect of advancement in digital healthcare.
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