Healthcare institutions have become one of the most susceptible industries to cyber threats in recent years. Reports from prominent cybersecurity companies have stated this is due to the healthcare industry having a large database of confidential data and because it has a relatively lower cyber preparedness as compared to other industries.
In addition, more and more Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology are being incorporated into the cyber framework of the healthcare industry as a result of increasing demand for patient-healthcare interconnectivity. This results in a significantly increased number of digital touchpoints that become vulnerable avenues for various forms of cyber-attacks.
Consequences of cyber-attacks in the healthcare industry can include theft of confidential patient information such as their medical history and medication prescriptions, stolen funds, loss of trust and reputation in the institution and compromised ongoing and pending medical treatments. A particularly insidious example is the possibility of hackers changing the diagnosis of a specific patient so that he / she receives the wrong treatment, which can aggravate his / her existing condition further.
Balancing between utilizing digital applications to improve the patient experience and adhering to legal protocols to safeguard private information is another difficult challenge for healthcare executives. However, there are methods that can be implemented on different levels to prevent and improve cybersecurity in healthcare industries. We’ll explore them below.
Identify Entry Points for Threats
As digital tools and applications are increasingly used in daily processes, they present more entry points for cyber threats from hackers. Through them, cyber attackers can release malware programs or viruses that access vital health information, slow down your network’s efficiency and compromise defensive protocols, making your system easily accessible to further hacking.
Malware can be introduced through various means, such as the downloads of unverified software, contaminated external storage devices and non-secure identity and access management practices in Singapore.
Employee Cybersecurity Training
The human factor is often the weakest link in the cybersecurity infrastructure. To complement security features such as firewalls and other layered defences, healthcare executives should implement stringent and continuous cybersecurity training that ensures staff on every level adhere to safe cybersecurity practices.
Through conferences or meetings, teaching them to recognize potentially harmful threats by being cognizant of malicious websites and suspicious email threats is an effective step in avoiding common ploys in cyber-attacks.
Limit Access to Information
Unmonitored network access is another factor contributing to the vulnerabilities in healthcare cybersecurity. Different employee groups should have segmented access to the network, with only the top-level doctors and executives having full access. In addition, information relevant to a specific department should be restricted to only that department. The security settings should also be set to monitor and record access attempts or unauthorized access.
An effective way to implement this is through progressive education, and subsequently, placing restrictions on the access areas, the use of applications, and also the personnel who can access confidential patient information.
Utilize Cloud Migration For Health Data
This is an undoubtedly common issue in a ‘smart nation’ such as Singapore. IT security software and on-site backup is a good combination for safeguarding data. However, utilizing cloud storage and backup provides a more flexible and secure solution that can be scaled to the number of required resources. Additionally, it provides many improvement opportunities for data management in healthcare organizations.
Utilizing cloud backup and recovery systems ensures that essential records of patients and treatments are retrievable and accessible in the event of a security breach. With settings that allow health executives to manage access to stored data, cloud migration provides an added layer of cybersecurity to healthcare industries.
Implement Proactive Security Programs
Every healthcare organization should implement cybersecurity protocols that are on a managerial level. Having an executive team in charge of creating, funding, implementing, and enforcing security initiatives ensures that there is an established cybersecurity framework providing the first line of defence against cyber threats. Also, a comprehensive threat management program should have regular risk assessment sessions.
Proactiveness is the key to countering cyber threats in the healthcare industry because organizations that only react to a hack or breach will be too late in recovering any compromised data. Their reputation will also take a huge hit from the media, dissatisfied customers and several other stakeholders.
How is your cybersecurity posture when it comes to protecting your customers’ personal data?
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