8 Tips for Securing Your Healthcare Business from Cyber Attacks

As a healthcare provider, you want what’s best for your patients. When you review charts, x-rays, and scans, you use the data for diagnosis to help you work together with your patient to create a treatment plan.

But what if what you’re seeing isn’t correct? What if the scan has been altered by malware, and you misdiagnose?

In a blind study, researchers altered real CT lung scans through malware, fabricating cancerous nodules. Radiologists diagnosed cancer in 99 percent of the cases. In cases where they removed cancerous nodules from scans, radiologists said those patients were healthy 94 percent of the time.

Malware has the potential to change everything about your business. It opens you up to multiple threats. It’s no longer a question of IF you’re attacked; it’s WHEN.

Security isn’t the primary function of your business. You set your practice up to help people, not deal with cybersecurity. Yet, in today’s world, cybersecurity is a part of every business. Ignoring it increases your risk.

Cybersecurity is now a core part of a patient-centered care model. To remain safe and secure in all areas of practice requires due diligence from all.

Tip 1 - All-level buy-in

Cybersecurity starts at the top. If you don’t have buy-in and a positive tone from the top down, you’re more likely to fail. While the top should lead by example, everyone must be well-versed in security, follow the risk management plan, and feel comfortable enough to talk about any issues at the first sign of a problem rather than waiting to “see what happens.”

Tip 2 - Regular training

Most security problems can be avoided by awareness. Awareness comes from consistent training to alert every level of your practice to potential issues. If you’ve scheduled week-long events in the past - train them for the year and consider it done - it’s time for a change. Security training should be a continual part of the job. Learning should come with each new potential threat. If you face something, bring it up with the entire office.

Tip 3 - Patch management

Those pesky updates can be annoying, alerting you to software updates and patches. They can take time out of your busy days, requiring several minutes of updates before you carry on with your job. While they may be annoying, they are also one of the best ways to ensure your systems are up to date. Hackers look for weak points; don’t give them easy access.

Tip 4 - Passwords

Passwords are very often the weakest link. If you don’t have established password guidelines, now is the time. People should never use the same passport for more than one system. Strong passwords should include at least eight characters and contain symbols, numbers, upper and lowercase letters. Passwords shouldn’t be written on a sticky note and attached to a computer screen. It may be time to move to two-factor authentication or a password system.

Tip 5 - Limit system access

To reduce your cyberattack risk, give only those who need access the proper credentials. Keep strict control over who enters. Have removal procedures in place. You should also have monitoring systems to alert you to activity by resources that shouldn’t be there.

Tip 6 - Cyber hygiene

As a healthcare organization, you have a variety of hygienic practices to keep patients and staff well. Good cyber hygiene should also be practiced to keep your core programs working well. This should include things like ensuring operating system and software maintenance. Or tracking third-party partners to ensure they stay up-to-date with their own internal controls. Even periodic checks can help you thwart cyber activity before it becomes a threat.

Tip 7 - Create backup systems

The best way to limit your potential liability from a cyberattack is to create a dynamic backup system as protection. Automated cloud-based backup systems can provide reliable and safe options for all organizations, no matter how much data you manage.

Tip 8 - Perform risk assessments

Before you invest in any system or technology, perform a risk assessment to ensure they meet your security policies. You should also conduct periodic risk assessments on current systems to identify changing threat environments in the light of new tools and information. This is where a third-party security partner can provide you with the resources necessary to stay at the top of your game.

Closing thoughts

Every healthcare organization has some level of security to protect against growing cyber attacks. Cloud-based, third-party, and in-house solutions are all practical ways of ensuring your data remains safe and secure.

This is your starting point. There isn’t a “right” approach. Your best way to reduce threats is to stay actively involved. Ask questions. Ask for help.

What is your plan for securing your business against cyber attacks this year?

For IT Strategy, Cloud Conversion, or Help Desk Services reach out to us at Silver Linings Technology 360-450-4759.