Key Strategies for Securing Healthcare Data

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Data breaches targeting healthcare websites have skyrocket spontaneously over the recent past. The reason for this is that, although cyber breaches targeting the health sector have always been part of us for a long time, a recent spike in what I might call the “healthcare cybercrime pandemic”, has been spearheaded by the use of poor configurations, outdated security tools, ignorance as well as sophisticated cyber attackers who are ever Keeping their nose to grindstone so as to develop more refined means and tools to undertake the hacks. A 2018 Horizon Report titled- The State of Cybersecurity In Healthcare indicate that almost all vital web application that are connected to crucial healthcare files and information are all exposed to the dangers of data breaches.

You have to agree with the fact that data breaches techniques now seems to advance faster than modern technology, which makes healthcare data security more important than ever before. It is not a question of what Content Management Systems, search engines, browsers and other key stakeholders in the internet world and healthcare security are doing. It is a question of what you are doing to ensure for utmost security of your healthcare website. Security is a shared responsibility. Here are some of the tips that you can put in place to ensure for utmost security of your healthcare website.

1. Use Strong passwords

Passwords, on most occasions, will act as the first line in cybersecurity defence and one of the most vital one. Passwords play a vital role in healthcare website security making sure to protect all of your sensitive information as well as vital health records of your clients from an assortment of cyber-attacks, jealous co-workers and all kind of intrusions. This is why it is of utmost importance to have a strong password suiting the needs of the user while still offering utmost security to stave off any attempts by the hackers looking to get past them.

Password strength is defined as the ability of a password to effectively resist an attempt by a hacker to “guess” it or to use brute force to get past it. Brute force is a crypto graphical term that refers to the process of running through all possible username and password combinations to get past the password and login credentials of your healthcare website.

The longer a password is alongside with a blend of different characters and proper password storage, amounts to what a strong password is. As a rule, the longer the password, the stronger it is and the shorter the password the weaker it is. Healthcare website security is of a personal initiative. It all begins with how good your password is. Do not sit and wait, create stronger passwords to strengthen your healthcare data security.

2. Educate Your Healthcare Staff

Some of the nastiest healthcare data breaches are those that are brewed with the environs of a healthcare organisations. Your employees, out of ignorance or just their own malicious reasons, could be the major cause of data breaches in your healthcare organisation. It is vital for all your healthcare security strategies to factor in employee education and enlightenment. The education program should encompass the following:

  • Education on password security and how to choose secure passwords.
  • Training on what Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is, what constitutes a HIPAA violation and what does not.
  • Training on possible attacks and vulnerabilities such as phishing attacks and social engineering attacks and what measures they can take to remain on the safer side.
  • Training your medical staff on the latest security protocols.

You can outsource the services of an expert to first assess the knowledge level of your staff and then come up with a training program based on what your employees know and what they do not know.

3. Use an SSL Encryption

Medical records of a client are very vulnerable. Hackers are always doing all they can to get hold of these records and use them for their own malicious reasons. It is the prime responsibility of the owner of the healthcare website to ensure that these records are protected at all costs. Internet conveniences have now made it possible for patients to simply fill in their health information and other medical private data. It is on the same internet that hackers are all over trying to get hold of these information. To keep these health records safe and to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, websites require an encryption tool called the SSL certificate.

An SSL certificate plays a vital encryption role, making sure that all the information shared between the patients’ browsers and servers such as health information, credit card and debit card details as well as appointment details are out of reach by unauthorized parties such as internet fraudsters, identity thieves and cyber attackers. A website that has an SSL certificate will ensure that no data leaks occur, and this ensures for utmost clients’ confidentiality.

It also matters a lot where you Buy your SSL Certificates from. For utmost healthcare website protection, I recommend that you only acquire a certificate from a trusted certificate provider such as GlobalSign, DigiCert, SSL2BUY. The SSL tool is almost an indispensable ingredient in healthcare data security.

4. Access Control to Protected patient data files

Healthcare access control is a security strategy that controls who can access the resources of your healthcare systems. It is a very fundamental strategy that when applied, can minimize the cybersecurity threats to your healthcare website. Access controls are usually categorized into two. Physical and logical accesses. Physical access controls is where access to physical resources such as healthcare buildings, rooms, resource centres, and physical IT resources is limited. Logical access control, on the other hand, limits access to computer networks data files and electronic resources.

Access controls should be fully implemented on your healthcare website. The principle of the least privilege should be applied to the healthcare systems where an employee is only allowed to access the resources that he/she requires to accomplish his/her job functions. Employees on leave and those who have retired should be immediately barred from accessing the healthcare resources.

Access controls is an essential security component to the healthcare industry that can be used to protect important patient data.

5. Carry out regular software Updates

It is the wish of developers and security experts that the internet be the safest place on earth. They are ever coming up with more advanced and secure software to ensure for this. Healthcare IT experts will always try to find any security problems that are posed by the existing software. They will then develop new software with advanced security features that address these vulnerabilities. Users should be keen to install these updates once the software has been tested and verified. Failing to do so will put you at the risk posed by the security loopholes existing in the yet to be updated version.

6. Performing a regular Risk assessment

Complacency is an enemy in healthcare security. Having knowledge of where your security vulnerabilities lie makes it easier to come up with protection strategies. To have a clear view of where loopholes and vulnerabilities exist in your security systems, you will need to conduct regular risk assessment. You can have your IT experts conducting the risks assessment procedures or you can outsource for an outside firm to perform the risk assessment for you. After knowing where the loopholes lie, you should go ahead and seal them appropriately.

7. Have a data recovery plan

Hackers are clever and they will do everything to ensure that they reach your data files despite all the security measures you have taken. The question you should seek to answer is how would you recover you data files after a successful data breach? The answer to this is having a data backup plan. Carrying out regular data backups will ensure that you recover all your essential data files after a data breach has occurred. A data backup is like an insurance plan or a contingency plan that ensures that you have all that you had before the data breach took place. It is therefore crucial that you create a backup file and store it safely out of reach of hackers.

8. Make use of multiple layer security systems

One security measure is never enough. I will recommend that you use multiple security layers. The importance of doing this is that when a hacker gets past one security wall, he would find another wall hence making it hard for him to conduct a cyber breach on your healthcare data. Multiple security layers can help mitigate an impeding security threats before it becomes successful.

Conclusion

Healthcare organisations are vulnerable to data breaches. Hackers want those medical records for their malicious purposes. Healthcare organisations have the responsibility of ensuring that all the data files are protected from data breaches. This article has illustrated some of the key strategies for securing a healthcare website.

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