How to Develop a Comprehensive Healthcare Data Security Plan

Security threats are everywhere, whether you’ve experienced a breach or not. The adage “it’s not a matter of IF, but when” applies to all healthcare businesses, no matter how big or small.

You might be excited about some of the newest technology entering the marketplace; hackers are too. Studies show that hackers already use AI and machine learning tools to exploit vulnerabilities and explore victims’ networks.

Of course, the opposite is also true. When smaller organizations and practices push these emerging tools aside, waiting to use them “later”, it actually makes them more vulnerable to attacks.

What do cybercriminals want? They’re looking for access to data. In the past three years, 93 percent of healthcare organizations experienced a data breach. 57 percent of them experienced five or more breaches.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to secure your data.

People are programmed to keep their financial data secure. They hide credit cards and keep PINs safe. But stolen credit cards can be canceled; they switch them out every few years.

Not so with healthcare data. Healthcare data can’t be canceled, and it never changes. Social Security numbers, birth dates, identification numbers, and personal health information stays the same, moving with you throughout your life. Cybercriminals want this because once they have access, they can continue to use it for a long time.

Healthcare organizations have a responsibility to protect patient’s personal data. That comes through developing a security plan right from the start. It should include:

Access controls

The best way to keep personal data secure is to limit access to only those who need it. This means getting clear in task assignments and giving each team member individualized access based on their jobs and roles. Proper authentication and authorization will help keep data safe and prevent data breaches over time.

Risk assessments

You don’t know where your vulnerabilities lie if you aren’t assessing your weaknesses and strengths. Periodic risk assessments allow health organizations to locate potential risks inside and outside their systems, estimate damages if these weaknesses are exploited, and evaluate just how vulnerable your systems are to attack. HIPAA regulations require risk assessments to remain in compliance.


In most data breaches, people are the weakest link. Most cyberattacks occur when users follow a link, open an email, or download a file. As attacks become more sophisticated, it’s essential to remind users where vulnerabilities lie and how to recognize a potential risk. This is an ongoing practice, constantly reminding users of the latest cybercriminal tactics.

Backup and recovery plans

When you take the time to evaluate your risks and consider worst-case scenarios, it gives you a chance to see how you would recover. This is where you can start to develop a comprehensive contingency plan to manage cyberattacks … HIPAA regulations mandate it. You should be using things like off-site data backups to protect data against natural disasters, patching and updating policies to keep your systems current, and restoration strategies to get back up and running quickly in the event of an attack.

Do you have a data security plan in place?

Compliance and security are demanding tasks. Cybercriminal behavior is ever-present. Changes to HIPAA occur frequently. To stay on task and keep your data safe, it’s important to have a comprehensive plan in place. If your organization is weak in security practices and doesn’t have the IT resources to develop and implement a security plan, maybe it’s time to find a service provider who can tailor a plan to meet your practice’s needs.

What is your strategy for data security?

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