In an increasingly digital world, the potential for breaches also increases. Healthcare technology is no different. However, there are many effective strategies for ensuring the integrity of patient data. Here are a few tips for protecting against cyberattacks in 2023.
The number of reported ransomware attacks within healthcare organizations doubled from 2020 (34%) to 2022 (66%). In the first half of last year, there were 337 breaches in the healthcare industry, according to research reports. Protecting the practice and its patients against cyberattacks is a matter of taking a few key steps and maintaining a certain level of security within the healthcare technology.
First, update or change any old our outdated security technologies. Healthcare systems are usually slowest at making technological advancements compared to other industries, and yet they have some of the more confidential information that needs to be secure and protected.
Insecure legacy systems should be replaced and updated with “always on” anti-ransomware, anti-malware tools. There are also intrusion prevention systems and firewalls that will help prevent cyberattacks. In addition, it is important to encrypt all sensitive data, especially patient data, and secure it in the cloud. More secure operating systems will also better prevent against cybersecurity issues. Putting proactive measures in place can mitigate attacks with aggressive technical and administrative controls.
Make sure everyone is on board with the new technology. The leadership team must set the example for embracing the change. New security measures and requirements can be met with negative reactions from clinical and administrative staff. Practice leadership should show support for the new security measures so they will be successful throughout the organization. It will be critical to emphasize the benefits of the heightened security processes for the practice and for its patients.
Thoroughly inform and educate all practice employees on how to avoid cyberattacks. Although some of the steps may seem tedious, they will be necessary to protect the sensitive data maintained by the practice. It is important to train all employees on not only how to avoid these attacks, but also what to do just in case they fall victim to these attacks as well as the proper measures to take (i.e. who to report it to, what to do with their technology, if anything, what next steps are, etc. ). Another aspect of employee education that is often overlooked is training them on what to look out for in an attack.
Stay up to date on security issues and policies, then update practice risk management procedures regularly. It is important to have a plan of action in case the practice falls victim to a cyberattack. Similar to an “emergency plan” describing procedures and contingencies if the power were to go out or if there were to be a natural disaster, the practice should have a plan in case a cyberattack were to happen.
Preventing cyberattacks is the first best step toward protecting the practice’s data. If a cyberattack were to occur, however, it is also essential that all staff are prepared to mitigate the situation and to not panic because of it. One important way to do this is to stay up to date on requirements and to adopt safeguards, then to include all of the pertinent information in a written disaster recovery plan that becomes an active, living document designed to ensure the continued viability of the practice.