There's really no debate:
One of the most important aspects of maintaining the integrity and solvency of your healthcare organization is reducing the risk of data security breaches. Data breaches threaten not just the financial, operational, and brand integrity of a clinical organization, but also the privacy and safety of employees and patients.
Just think about the amount of sensitive data being stored and transmitted throughout a clinical setting's IT network on any given day: social security numbers and other demographics, protected health information, financial details. IT team members are bound by not just an ethical duty to protect their infrastructure, but by strict regulations and laws pertaining to healthcare information.
The thing is, if you're not aware of the potential cybersecurity threats your clinical organization may face, then you're not adequately prepared to safeguard against them. And as with any technology, cybersecurity threats evolve constantly. With this in mind, check out some of the most common data security threats seen in clinical healthcare settings that may warrant further investigation at your organization.
Clinical healthcare settings are constantly filled with people from outside the organization itself (vendors, visitors, volunteers, etc.), many of whom utilize their phones and personal devices to access the internet. Even healthcare employees may be allowed or encouraged to use personal devices on the organization's network. It's important for IT departments to explore ways to augment security options in the face of so many unsecured devices that will attempt to access the organization's infrastructure at any given time.
Human involvement in data security threats range from accidental and internal (e.g., an employee clicking on an unsecure link) to intentional and external (e.g., a malicious adversary breaching cybersecurity and launching an attack). But while human involvement is variable, it can be mitigated with your help—and it starts with raising awareness.
As an IT department, one of your main roles is doubling down on employee education through routine and regularly updated educational courses, competency classes, and policies. All employees within your organization (not just your IT team) should see themselves as an integral part of protecting the safety of your clinical healthcare organization's infrastructure.
There are many appealing reasons for healthcare systems to transition to cloud-based computing. But protecting these networks is of utmost importance, especially since these networks can give hackers an "in" without the need to breach any physical onsite hardware. IT teams should be able to read their cloud-based computing networks closely, monitor the flow of data transmission, and be on the lookout for signs of cloud security breaches, such as abnormally high outbound traffic and spikes in file-read requests or record access.
This malicious software isn't new, but hackers are getting more elegant in their ability to assimilate this illegal technology into digital infrastructures. Intended to steal, encrypt, block access to, and/or threaten distribution of sensitive data (unless, of course, a ransom is paid), ransomware is often introduced into a system through user-facing mechanisms like phishing that fool people into providing sensitive information. In other words, unsuspecting employees and patients end up doing the legwork for these hackers—who then infiltrate the data security system and make demands.
So, in addition to employee and patient education, healthcare organizations must recognize potential areas of weaknesses in their infrastructure in order to identify signs of ransomware—or better yet block its access.
IoT stands for internet of things. An IoT device is any type of hardware that transmits data electronically from one place to another. In the clinical setting, this includes medical devices such as pacemakers, telemetry units, and insulin pumps. Unfortunately, these devices are vulnerable to data security threats; many do not have the ability to block malicious behaviors that other endpoint devices do, such as laptops, desktops, and mobile phones.
Given the abundance of wearable health technology in the clinical setting, it's important to stay up-to-date on potential advances in endpoint security for these devices.
It's hard enough managing a clinical healthcare setting's digital infrastructure without also having to constantly look over your shoulder or pour over trade publications in order to stay current on the latest cybersecurity threats. But as hackers get more clever, so do we. Contact Integrity Technology Solutions to discuss how we can help your IT team establish a streamlined and updated digital infrastructure system and protect your company against data security threats.