As medical practices continue to develop their IT and implement new EHRs, it’s vital to understand how to implement tighter healthcare IT security. With the increasing number of cybersecurity threats and data breaches in the healthcare industry, keeping patient health information (PHI) secure is becoming a more challenging task.

Critical Healthcare IT Security Risks

Here’s a brief description of some of the most serious health IT security risks and how to mitigate them.

1. Ransomware

Hospitals are now targets for hackers who want to lock up the information system and demand a ransom. Since hospitals need up-to-date information for their operations, they tend to pay up immediately upon being attacked by such criminals. They do this because they don’t want their patients to suffer due to the system lockdown. To prevent hackers from gaining access to the system, you need to:

  • Control how user devices connect to the internet
  • Inform users to avoid clicking on any suspicious link while connected to the hospital’s network
  • Invest in email security, firewalls, and web security gateways

If you end up in a ransomware situation, consult a health IT security expert and do all you can to avoid paying the ransom. This could mean, relying on backups, rebuilding files, or using an encryption decoder to decrypt the ransomware.

2. Phishing Attacks

A phishing attack occurs when hackers attempt to get sensitive data like personal details, passwords, and credit card information by presenting themselves as a trustworthy entity. The most common route used for these attacks is email.

The email may appear to come from a well-known company that your employees have dealt with in the past. As soon as they click the phishing link, a request for personal information follows. To stop phishing attacks:

  • Hospital staff must not open attachments or click on links in emails from unknown senders.
  • Let IT admin staff look at any suspicious link.
  • Staff must never give out personal information or other credentials without cross-checking the source of the request.
  • Doctors should carefully study any request for documents or file sharing to avoid falling prey to hackers.

3. Blind Encryption Spots

Encryption is a veritable tool for protecting data in transit or in storage. But clever hackers have discovered ways to hide their activities and threats inside encrypted data. This makes it difficult for security software to spot and deal with data breaches. To overcome the threat posed by encrypted cyber attacks:

  • Create a security layer that checks encrypted traffic to locate any blind spots
  • Use appropriate tools to analyze network traffic for suspicious behavior

4. Cloud Threats

Due to the compelling benefits of cloud-based applications, healthcare providers have started using them for more efficient data processing and better patient care. However, cloud-based apps are vulnerable to data security risks and hacking. While complying with HIPAA provisions about cloud-based apps can help improve security, they don’t guarantee maximum security. So, if your practice uses cloud-based services, you need to:

  • Have a well-written description of the data and information assets residing on cloud servers
  • Map out the processes and personnel that will access cloud-based services
  • Use strong encryption protocols to protect data in transit
  • Avoid sharing any encryption key or token with third parties

Do You Want to Improve Your Healthcare IT Security?

Call 877.522.8378 to book a free consultation on how to improve the security of your healthcare data. We have the experience and expertise to help you secure all your healthcare data and prevent costly breaches.