The healthcare industry has always been at significant risk for cyberattacks, in part due to the high volume of data it processes.

The healthcare industry has always been at significant risk for cyberattacks, in part due to the high volume of data it processes. Patient health information (PHI) and identification are in constant demand for identity theft, medical insurance fraud, and other illegitimate ventures on dark web markets.

Today, as COVID-19 ravages the globe, the “essential work” of malicious actors seems to include making the lives of deluged hospital staff even harder. Risks to medical data have spiraled into a matter of life and death as healthcare entities face operational threats to vital facility functioning and life-saving equipment.

The 2020 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey paints a disturbing portrait of threats to healthcare systems, where 70% of the survey’s respondents report “significant security incidents” over the course of 2020. When it comes to the consequences, a concerning 30% of respondents report experiencing major disruptions of data processing and everyday operations, while 20% report confidential information leaks leading to steep HIPAA violation fines and, perhaps most costly, loss of patient trust.

For hospitals and healthcare entities alike, it’s never been more crucial to prioritize IT security. Today we take a look at the top four priorities your IT security policy and practices deserve.

  1. Bank On Bigger Budgets

For hospitals and healthcare entities, financial considerations are high on the priority list—which can push IT security out of sight and mind. The HIMSS survey reveals just 6% of the average information technology budget goes to IT security, and despite the gradual shift from analog to digital operations, those numbers remain mostly static.

While healthcare budgets are still reeling from the pandemic, it’s still timely, if not vital, to open the lines of communication between IT security staff and administration to convey the magnitude of threats your organization faces and discuss related budget priorities. The average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, according to IBM, and that’s aside from the priceless value of patient safety and community confidence. In other words, there’s plenty of room to argue the merits of a proactive defense.

  1. Clear The Way For Updates

Whether your organization has had updates underway for years or is just now getting started, it’s critical to prioritize transitioning outdated systems out and newer, more secure systems in. While that can involve everything from archiving inactive data to installing all pending patches, every step is worthwhile, as each takes you closer to a secure environment.

You also can’t overlook your system’s firewalls and security applications—appsec is serious business, and knowing what security measures third parties use will assist you in building a more comprehensive strategy to defend your entire supply chain. Frequent vulnerability scanning is a standard but critical precaution, as is implementing multi-factor authentication.

  1. Keep An Eye On Credentials

Among the most innocuous yet nefarious breach methods are those involving lost or stolen user credentials, snatched up by hackers via phishing emails or full frontal attacks. One of the simplest solutions is also one your healthcare organization can implement via staff training: building and frequently changing effective passwords. 

Although password reuse is a quick and easy habit for hospital staff, it also jeopardizes an increasingly digital interface of sensitive data and PHI. Verifying employee credentials and, once again, implementing multi-factor authentication will make all the difference in crafting a more secure frontline defense.

  1. Know Emerging Expectations

Rules and regulations saturate the world of IT security as well as healthcare, and for good reason—ensuring your compliance with HIPAA and FDA-assigned IT security mandates, among others, will eliminate potential fines and make all the difference for your data security. It’s also required! So be sure your HIPAA risk assessment team is composed of seasoned experts who truly know the healthcare landscape and are up on the most current federal regulations.

Curious about what else you can do to comply? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has rigorous guidelines for improving your IT security stance, and as it happens, they agree that IT security-focused employee training and password maintenance are simple but effective solutions for abundant IT security problems.

Specialized Healthcare Solutions

There’s a lot you can do to ensure your organization’s compliance and security, starting with a truly comprehensive HIPAA Security Risk Assessment to ensure your day-to-day functions, your patients’ data, and your community’s trust.

With specialization in the most highly regulated industries, like healthcare, BAI Security delivers on the results that matter, with 85% New Threat Detection and 100% Audit Depth and Comprehensiveness.

Ready to discuss options? Contact us today.