Electronic protected health information (ePHI), which is highly sensitive, is at risk across multiple digital systems. Medical professionals handle electronic health records (EHRs) and other software that contain medical information. Unfortunately, this valuable data acts as an enticing target for cybercriminals.
The frequency of attacks on medical infrastructure is increasing, with ransomware causing significant damage. Patient information protection is not just an opportunity, but a responsibility of all medical organizations that work with this data. Along with the increase in the number of threats, the demand for healthcare cybersecurity is increasing, but many still neglect it.
Cybersecurity in Healthcare
#1 Telemedicine solution
Health organizations are embracing telemedicine solutions due to their rising popularity. They effectively streamline information flow within your organization while ensuring data protection. In addition, they offer various advantages such as simplified appointment scheduling, improved access to medical records, faster payment options, and enhanced patient care quality.
#2 Access control
Administrators assign roles to users, granting permissions based on these roles. Role Based Access Control (RBAC) provides specific access roles to users according to their organizational roles. For instance, clinical data prescribing, medication dispensing, medication administration, ordering expensive investigations, etc., determine appropriate access levels.
Access to protected information, including health records and private data, should strictly adhere to a “need to know” basis, authorized based on occupation titles. Implementing access control enhances system security and mitigates internal threat attacks. Strengthening cybersecurity infrastructure, and access control becomes a critical measure for healthcare organizations.
#3 Use VPN
The issue of medical data security depends on how securely they are stored and how reliable their transmission channel is. The easiest way to ensure medical record security during their transportation is to download a VPN for your PC. It is enough to install a VPN on Windows 11 and all working devices so that the data is encrypted before being sent. Perhaps this is one of the key healthcare security policies.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) enhances system security by requiring users to provide multiple verification methods. This method has proven to be effective in reducing the risk of cyberattacks, as weak and easily predicted passwords alone can be hacked. To maintain security, it is recommended to frequently update and change passwords.
To minimize the impact of cyber-attacks, implementing reliable backup, offline storage, and restoration methods is crucial. Backups can be scheduled at preferred intervals, ranging from real-time to hourly, every 12 hours, or daily. It is essential to regularly monitor backups and conduct weekly checks to ensure error-free restoration. This security protocol offers exceptional protection against various ransomware attacks.
#6 Personnel training
Healthcare faces significant threats due to a lack of IT security skills. An IONOS Cloud study indicates that 40% of employees lack cybersecurity expertise and knowledge of data protection. Therefore, it is vital to provide regular professional training in cybersecurity. Employees need to:
- Recognize phishing emails, including those targeting specific recipients, as they tend to be more effective.
- Regularly back up data with strict controls on data encryption to prevent damage or deletion of valuable patient information in cyberattacks.
- Practice digital hygiene, such as creating strong passwords and avoiding unknown or suspicious links.
#7 Migrating to the cloud
Healthcare organizations are increasingly opting to migrate their infrastructure to the cloud. In 2020, the healthcare cloud computing industry reached $28.1B, and it is projected to grow to an impressive $64.7B by 2025. This shift is driven by the myriad of ways in which data can be safeguarded in the cloud, including data encryption and blockchain usage. Furthermore, cloud services provide several advantages, such as cost reduction, enhanced flexibility, and virtually unlimited data storage space.
#8 Penetration testing
Cybercriminals frequently exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in IT infrastructures, capitalizing on perfect opportunities to succeed in their attacks. Consequently, updating security patches at regular intervals becomes imperative. Conducting periodic Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Testing is necessary to ensure the hospital’s IT infrastructure remains fortified against weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
#9 Data usage control
Clinics should actively control and monitor malicious file activity by implementing systems that block unauthorized actions with data. To quickly identify unauthorized actions with patient files and establish and eliminate breaches during cyberattacks, it is essential to record data. Strict access rights should be implemented to protect patient data from unauthorized operations, requiring password/PIN, cards and keys, face, fingerprint, or retina recognition.
Advanced cryptography techniques, such as homomorphic encryption, secure multiparty computation, or distributed ledger technologies, should be used for data encryption during transmission and storage. In cloud and other intelligent environments, your key (BYOK) techniques should be leveraged. When implementing data control, medical organizations must comply with guidelines for protecting sensitive information, such as HHS HIPAA guidelines. Predefined ePHI for encryption and decryption should be ensured, and cryptographic techniques should be selected based on reasonable necessity and appropriateness to prevent unauthorized access to data.
All healthcare organizations must take care of patient data if they handle it. The issue of privacy in healthcare is almost as important as in the judicial sphere. Companies with cybersecurity gaps and vulnerabilities will not be able to win the race against competitors in the long run.