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Protecting Patient Data: The Importance of Cybersecurity in Healthcare

The following article is taken from a recent article written by KnowBe4, which does an excellent job explaining the importance of cybersecurity as well as outlining some practices to implement to ensure your organization has a robust cybersecurity program. Give it a read and compare your organization’s practices to those mentioned in the article. Should your organization be doing more? Please consider conducting a security risk assessment using the program you can download for free at Learning Is Created “Free HIPAA Resources” page.

“As digital transformation continues to shape the healthcare industry, it is crucial for healthcare organizations to prioritize cybersecurity. These organizations are entrusted with sensitive personal information from patients, making them a prime target for cybercriminals who steal, exploit or sell the data they acquire. As evidenced by a recent breach at MCNA dental which impacted 8.9 million patients

The healthcare industry is unique in that exposure, loss or amending of information can have a long-lasting impact on its victims. Unlike credit card information, healthcare information is not easily changed or canceled, which can cause embarrassment, direct health implications, or even lead to targeted scams.

We have seen many examples of this, such as the ransomware attack on a plastic surgery clinic in Florida, which caused patients to receive ransomware notes with the threat of their data being exposed if they were not paid. Similarly, the breach of a psychology hospital in Germany resulted in the exposure of intimate details of psychiatric patients.

To avoid these scenarios, healthcare organizations should prioritize cybersecurity by implementing robust security measures such as intrusion detection systems, firewalls and encryption technologies. In addition, organizations should adopt effective cybersecurity policies and ensure regular employee training to combat social engineering techniques like phishing, which is the most common way cybercriminals breach organizations.

Attackers take advantage of vulnerable employees by sending convincing but fraudulent emails, which appear to be from a known or trusted source. Once clicked, these emails allow access to networks or sensitive data. Employee security awareness training ensures they know how to recognize and thwart such attacks.

Finally, it is important for healthcare organizations to work with reliable and trustworthy vendors that have a good track record of implementing effective cybersecurity solutions. This includes conducting regular cybersecurity audits to assess the competency of their current MSP or IT service provider.

The healthcare industry must prioritize cybersecurity. Patient data is sensitive and personal and must be protected. Organizations that do not take these measures seriously risk severe repercussions as cybercriminals constantly evolve their attack strategies.  By embedding good security practices, healthcare organizations can build a culture of security and mitigate the risk of losing patient data and damaging their reputation.”

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