Human error is consistently ranked as one of the leading causes of cybersecurity breaches within healthcare organizations. And while cybersecurity breaches can be devastating in any industry, they tend to be especially harmful within healthcare, since the target of digital criminal activity is often private customer data and protected health information. Theft of this highly sensitive information can negatively affect patients and also threaten the long-term reputation and solvency of a medical institution.
For these reasons, healthcare organizations should be encouraged to create a company culture of digital security and safety—one that employees at every level can feel a part of. And in order to elevate your company's culture of safety, you need to make sure your employees are properly educated and trained on the subject.
Keep reading for a few suggestions on what to include in safety awareness training campaigns and how to optimize these training materials so that your employees feel empowered to help keep your organization safer from cyberattacks.
4 Security Awareness Training Topics Healthcare All Employees Should Know
Healthcare companies are unique, and therefore should strive to individualize their security awareness training topics based on their organization's specific needs and values. That said, here are a few important topics to consider when developing a safety awareness campaign, as outlined by the Public Health Emergency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Email protection: teach employees how to watch for and protect against email-based attacks, including ransomware and phishing scams
- Endpoint security: teach employees how to ensure that all connected hardware devices—including desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and even medical devices—are properly used and protected, whether on- or off-campus
- Data protection and loss prevention: ensure all employees know how to properly handle and/or dispose of sensitive information and ensure they stay vigilant about protecting this data (e.g., using encryption when sending protected health information via emails, and always using secured networks to do so)
- Incident response: ensure employees know what to do if they suspect a cybersecurity incident has occurred (and alleviate the fear of punitive action)
In short, all employees should be regularly trained on the specific organizational policies and encouraged to ask questions and report concerns. The more healthcare employees understand an organization's cybersecurity strategies, the more likely it is they will properly utilize them.
How to Implement Effective Security Awareness Training Materials for Healthcare Organizations
Knowing what to include in your organization's cyber-safety awareness training is an important element in reducing the risk of security breaches. It's not the only element, however. Any safety training topic must be communicated effectively to ensure employee buy-in and follow-through. Here are a few ways to make sure your security awareness training materials are effective:
- Provide multi-modal training materials (e.g., written and audiovisual) to meet the needs of multiple types of learners
- Keep videos and other passive training materials short, concise, and to the point
- Use short and simple quizzes to gauge understanding and provide immediate feedback
- Employ "active" training materials such as simulations of common cybersecurity attacks, such as phishing scams and endpoint security breaches (e.g., leaving out USB drives to see if employees know how to respond appropriately)
- Include cybersecurity awareness and practice in annual performance reviews
Every employee within a healthcare organization plays a pivotal role in keeping the organization safe from cybersecurity attacks. Help your employees see how critical their roles are for promoting a safer, better-protected company by using and disseminating effective training materials.