By Zac Amos, Features Editor, Rehack.com
Cyber security holds an important place in various industries, especially in health care. Maintaining robust security measures is critical because of the immense amount of sensitive data at stake.
Unfortunately, maintaining cyber security hygiene can seem daunting for many dedicated and busy hospital workers. Overburdened with the responsibility of patient care, they grapple with finding time and resources to implement effective security measures. However, there are plenty of ways to make cyber security more manageable for busy health care professionals.
The importance of cyber security in health care
Cyber security is not just about protecting data in health care — it’s a matter of patient safety and trust. A breach can have severe consequences, from identity theft to fraudulent activities, which could lead to considerable financial loss.
Organizations recovering from a breach in the health care sector incur nearly three times the cost compared to organizations in other industries. On average, each stolen health care record amounts to $408, while non-health records cost $148 per incident.
Breaches can disrupt critical medical services, risking patients’ lives. Sensitive patient information can be exposed, damaging health care providers’ reputations.
One notable example underscores these risks. Several years ago, hackers got their hands on the data of over 4 million people from a health care company simply by stealing computers that, in violation of HIPAA regulations, contained unencrypted medical data. This breach showcases how a simple oversight can lead to potentially disastrous consequences, amplifying the urgency for robust cyber security measures.
Common cyber security challenges for health care workers
Health care workers face numerous cyber security challenges in their daily routines. Weak or reused passwords are among the most common mistakes, giving hackers easy access to systems. Ignoring software updates, often due to lack of time, leaves networks vulnerable to known threats.
Clicking on malicious links in phishing emails is another frequent error. Furthermore, sensitive information can be exposed during unprotected data transmission. In hindsight, the impact of these challenges is evident, as ransomware attacks cost organizations a staggering $20 billion just 18 months ago. Understanding these common mistakes enables health care workers to better prevent potential security breaches.
Cyber security tips for busy health care workers
Cyber security can be simpler than many may think. Even busy health care professionals can adopt these quick, effective practices to bolster their threat prevention and defense strategies.
1. Pay attention to password management
Password management is crucial. Reusing simple passwords is tempting, but that’s a hacker’s dream. Instead, consider using a password manager, which can generate and store complex ones for the staff.
2. Identify and avoid phishing emails
Vigilance against phishing emails is essential. These often appear as genuine communications from a trusted colleague or institution. However, they contain malicious links or attachments.
The best way to take action is to train hospital staff to be wary of any unexpected email, particularly those urging immediate action or requesting sensitive information.
3. Keep systems updated
Updates can be time-consuming but often contain vital security enhancements that protect against known threats. Most systems and software offer automatic updates, and health care employees must use them.
4. Use secure networks and data protection
Secure networks are critical. An employee transmitting sensitive data must ensure the network is secure. Medical establishments using a public system should instead use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt the data.
Leveraging technology and training for easier cyber security
Enhancing cyber security becomes much simpler when medical providers leverage available technology and receive proper training. Antivirus software, firewalls and encryption are crucial lines of defense that should be installed on every device.
Regular training sessions are also vital. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigation report highlights that employees are more than 2.5 times more likely to make an error leading to a breach than to misuse their access maliciously. The right training can reduce these unintentional errors.
Moreover, a strong IT support team plays a significant role. They can respond rapidly to security issues, manage system updates and guide staff on appropriate data handling procedures. Utilizing technology and emphasizing ongoing education can make cyber security more manageable in a health care setting.
Prioritizing cyber security in health care
Keeping up with cyber security in health care is important. Busy health care professionals must take practical steps to protect sensitive data. Implementing effective tactics helps medical staff strengthen their defenses against cyber threats.
It might seem challenging, but every step toward better cyber security enhances patient safety and trust. Prioritizing security in health care environments is essential.
For more from Rehack.com’s Features Editor, Zac Amos, please click here. Lastly, subscribe to the CyberTalk.org newsletter for executive-level interviews, analyses, reports and more each week. Subscribe here.