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11 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Healthcare Organizations

By: Dataprise

Healthcare Cyber Practices

Table of content

Healthcare organizations rely on technology to streamline workflows and provide proactive and excellent patient care. However, with this reliance on technology comes the risk of cyberattacks and the potential compromise of patient health information. It is important for healthcare providers to implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data from cybercriminals. In this blog, we will discuss the best practices that every healthcare provider should adopt to safeguard patient data and maintain the trust of their patients.

1. Implement Strong Passwords and Multifactor Authentication on ALL accounts

One of the first lines of defense against cyberattacks is the use of strong passwords. Healthcare providers should encourage employees to create complex passwords that are difficult to guess, incorporating a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. It is also essential to avoid password reuse across multiple accounts to minimize the risk of unauthorized access. In addition to strong passwords, implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security. MFA requires users to provide additional verification, such as a fingerprint scan or a unique code sent to their mobile device, ensuring that only authorized individuals gain access to sensitive information.

2. Provide Ongoing Cybersecurity Training for Employees

Employees are often the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity, making ongoing training crucial. Healthcare providers should provide regular cybersecurity education to employees, emphasizing the importance of protecting patient data and the potential risks associated with cyberattacks. Training sessions should cover topics such as threat identification, best practices for handling sensitive information, and reporting suspicious activities. By empowering employees with the knowledge and skills to identify and prevent cyberattacks, healthcare organizations can create a security-conscious culture and reduce the likelihood of data breaches.

3. Use Encryption Technology to Protect Patient Data

Encryption technology plays a vital role in safeguarding patient health information. By transforming data into an unreadable format that requires a decryption key for access, encryption ensures that even if unauthorized individuals gain access to the data, they cannot decipher its contents. Healthcare providers should employ encryption techniques to protect confidential patient information, including medical history, social security numbers, and payment details. This additional layer of security adds an extra level of protection to patient data, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access.

4. Conduct Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits help identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a healthcare provider’s system. By conducting comprehensive, enterprise-wide security audits, organizations can proactively identify potential threats and take appropriate measures to address them. This includes identifying and patching software vulnerabilities, ensuring that all systems and devices are up to date with the latest security patches. It is also important to involve security professionals, biomed, and clinical engineering staff in the audit process to ensure that both traditional and connected care workflows are taken into account.

5. Secure Connected Medical Devices

Connected medical devices play a large role in modern healthcare, but they can also pose cybersecurity challenges. Healthcare providers should implement access controls on these devices to ensure the security of patient data. This can include requiring clinicians to use credentials such as usernames and passwords before accessing a connected medical device. Single sign-on (SSO) solutions can also streamline clinical workflows by eliminating the need for multiple passwords. Implementing single- or two-factor authentication allows organizations to determine the appropriate level of security for each situation, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access to patient data.

6. Apply Strong Passwords to Network Devices

Healthcare providers should make sure that all network devices, such as routers and switches, are protected with strong passwords. These passwords should follow the same guidelines as mentioned earlier, incorporating a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Regularly changing these passwords and avoiding the use of personal information further enhances the security of network devices.

7. Fortify Your Network against External and Internal Threats

Cybercriminals often acquire patient health information through tactics such as phishing and malware. Healthcare providers should only access patient health information through secure connections, such as secure applications and web portals, to safeguard against untrusted users. It is crucial to educate employees about the risks of opening unexpected attachments or clicking on links from unknown senders, as these actions can lead to the infiltration of malware. Organizations should be aware of the threat posed by insider actors and take steps to prevent unauthorized access by locking computers when not in use and regularly backing up data.

8. Continuously Monitor and Update Security Measures

Cybersecurity is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and updating of security measures. Healthcare providers should establish a system for monitoring the network and devices for any suspicious activities or potential vulnerabilities. Regularly updating software and firmware to the latest versions is crucial to ensure that security patches are applied and any known vulnerabilities are addressed. By staying proactive and vigilant, healthcare organizations can stay one step ahead of cybercriminals and protect patient data effectively.

9. Collaborate with Cybersecurity Experts

Cybersecurity is a complex field, and healthcare providers can benefit from collaborating with cybersecurity experts such as an MSSP. These experts can assess the organization’s current security measures, identify potential weaknesses, and provide guidance on implementing the most effective cybersecurity practices. By leveraging the knowledge and expertise of cybersecurity professionals, healthcare organizations can enhance their cybersecurity posture and better protect patient data.

10. Stay Compliant with Industry Regulations

Compliance with industry regulations is essential for healthcare providers to protect patient data and avoid potential penalties. Regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) set standards for the protection of patient privacy and the security of protected health information (PHI). Healthcare organizations should ensure that their cybersecurity measures align with these regulations and regularly review and update their policies and procedures to remain compliant. Staying up to date with the latest regulatory requirements is critical for maintaining the trust of patients and avoiding any legal consequences.

11. Foster a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness

Creating a culture of cybersecurity awareness is vital for the long-term protection of patient data. Healthcare providers should promote a culture where every employee recognizes the importance of cybersecurity and understands their role in maintaining the security of patient information. This can be achieved through regular communication, training sessions, and ongoing reminders about best practices for cybersecurity. By fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, healthcare organizations can ensure that the protection of patient data becomes ingrained in their day-to-day operations.

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