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Tyler Thepsiri

By: Tyler Thepsiri on February 22, 2024

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Cybersecurity In Healthcare: 3 Common Threats & 6 Best Practices

Cybersecurity | Healthcare

Protecting patient data and ensuring efficiency are important aspects of healthcare organizations. As these organizations increasingly rely on technology, healthcare organizations face the growing possibility that they may fall victim to cyber threats.

In this article, I’ll outline three cybersecurity threats commonly faced by healthcare organizations and we’ll walk through 6 best practices that can help keep data, systems, and devices secure.

And, whether you work in healthcare or not, this article will provide important information that any organization can use to stay safe in the face of emerging cyber threats.

As manager of engineering at a managed IT services provider that works with organizations in a variety of industries, I have first-hand knowledge about the threats and effective solutions.

I’m sharing best practices and actionable steps not to convince you to work with us, but rather to pass along information business leaders like you can use to keep  organizations safe.

At Kelser, we know managed IT isn’t the right solution for every organization. Rather than convince you that we have the best solution for you, we are committed to offering easy-to-understand information that you can use to make the best IT decisions for your organization.

If we aren’t the right fit to work together, it’s okay. We’d rather that you find a good fit than work together under false pretenses.

Why Is Cybersecurity Important In Healthcare?

Healthcare organizations store and process reams of sensitive information including protected medical records, as well as personally identifiable information (PII). PII includes account information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers.

While this information is regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), healthcare organizations have to actually ensure they are using the latest technology and best practices to combat emerging threats.

One cyber incident can have devastating consequences leading to identity theft, financial fraud, reputational damage, and even legal repercussions due to regulatory non-compliance.

In addition, cyber incidents can disrupt critical healthcare services and negatively impact the quality and efficiency of patient care.  

What Are 3 Common Cybersecurity Threats That Affect Healthcare & Other Organizations?

Three common cybersecurity threats that target healthcare and other organizations are:

1. Phishing Attacks

These types of attacks are largely carried out via targeted email or text messages that attempt to trick employees into revealing sensitive information such as passwords or login credentials.

Related article: What Is Phishing? (And Tips To Avoid It)

2. Ransomware Attacks

Some hackers use malicious software to encrypt an organization’s data, grind operations to a halt, and then demand a ransom payment in exchange for unlocking the encryption.

Related article: What Is Ransomware? How Does It Work? How To Avoid It

3. Malware Attacks

Malicious software can be installed on devices in many ways and can remain inactive for months before turning malicious. These types of attacks can result in the theft of data, disruption of operations, or other types of business damage.

Related article: What Is Malware? How Can IT Affect My Business?

6 Essential Best Practices To Help Keep Data Safe In Healthcare And Other Industries

Whether you work in healthcare or another industry, there are several key steps you can take to help keep your data and that of your patients and customers protected from emerging security threats:

1. Limit Access

One of the easiest and most effective ways to protect information is to limit access to only those people who need it.

Physical security measures are a good first step to protecting servers and other system hardware that contains sensitive information. Adding multi-factor authentication helps ensure that only authorized users can access your electronic files.

2. Patch and Update

Updating software and systems is imperative to stay ahead of evolving threats.

Related article: Why Do I Need To Patch & Update Business Sofware & Operating Systems?

3. Employee Training

Ongoing employee security awareness training empowers them to recognize the latest threats and report suspicious activities, providing another level of security for your infrastructure.

Related article: Why Is It Important To Provide Security Awareness Training For Employees?

4. Encrypt Data

Protect sensitive information with encryption. By encrypting data, both at rest and in transit, your data will be unreadable even if it is intercepted by someone with malicious intent.

Related article: What Is Email Encryption? Does It Keep Business Communication Secure?

5. Plan Ahead

The fact that you haven’t yet experienced an incident is no guarantee that your organization is safe. The best response is to be prepared. Develop a plan to identify, contain and recover from an attack so you can minimize damage and downtime.

Related article: What Are The Key Components Of An IT Disaster Recovery Plan?

6. Backup Data

Backing up your data often, and knowing how to access the backups, means that when disaster strikes you will be able to respond quickly and restore operations using a current backup version of your files.

Related article: Data Backups Are Key To Disaster Recovery

Looking for more ideas? Government contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers are required to follow the security guidelines outlined in NIST 800-171. The guidelines outlined in this special publication provide a valuable framework for any organization looking to strengthen its cybersecurity protections.

What’s The Bottom Line?

After reading this article, you know three common cybersecurity threats that face healthcare and other organizations.

Phishing, ransomware, and malware are just some of the social engineering ploys used by cyber criminals to gain access to valuable data and systems.

The good news is that you also know there are simple and effective cybersecurity measures that will help protect healthcare and other organizations. And, they don’t have to be expensive!

Whether it’s limiting access, installing patches and updates, educating employees, encrypting data, creating disaster recovery plans, or backing up your data, these simple steps combine to form a comprehensive security system for your organization.

And, in the same way that adding a doorbell camera or security system adds another layer of security for your home, the more tools you use to protect your data, the more difficult it will be to penetrate your technology infrastructure, lowering your risk of becoming an easy target.

At Kelser, we provide comprehensive security solutions for our customers as part of our managed IT service solution. But, you don’t necessarily need to work with an external provider to implement these solutions. You may have an internal organization that can do the heavy lifting to yield the same results.

If you do find yourself looking for an external IT service provider, we encourage you to check out several options to ensure that you find an organization that is a good fit for you.

It might seem odd that we aren’t pressuring you to work with us. We do things a little differently and focus on learning about potential customers and their needs without assuming we are the best solution for them.

The truth is, there are lots of options out there and if we work together without exploring whether we are the right fit, you are going to end up with a solution that doesn’t work and an increased level of frustration. That’s not good for you or us. 

We know that selecting an external IT provider can be difficult. Here’s a list of the top questions to ask any external IT provider.

And, if you are feeling overwhelmed and just want to talk to a human, the button below will start that process.

Simply tell us how to get in touch and one of our IT solutions experts will schedule a 15-minute call at your convenience to learn more about your organization, your technology pain points, and whether we might be a good fit to work together. No hard sell; just a conversation.

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About Tyler Thepsiri

With more than 10 years in the IT industry, Tyler is able to adapt quickly to almost any technological issue. He understands how systems should work, and specializes in security and compliance.

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