In the health sector, priority is always given to saving lives while the security of personal health records (PHR) is often overlooked. This is because in comparison to emergency situations, the storage of information seems very insignificant. As a result, an increasing number of healthcare providers are facing the consequences. From January through May of 2018, in the United States there were 147 security breaches reported, representing 2,807,227 health records exposed via various cyber attack methods. These methods include email hacks, ransomware incidents and malware infections, among others. Cyber-crime is stronger than it has ever been and there are no signs of its decline. Therefore, healthcare providers should counteract this by rising up to the occasion and replacing outdated security tools with updated technologies and strategies.
Giva has compiled a list of replacements for some of the tools and technologies that must be updated:
Even though automated tools were introduced long ago, many healthcare providers continue to use weak passwords that can be easily discovered. Automated tools prevent them from doing so and ensure that no vulnerabilities are present in the system. This makes it difficult for hackers to breach the system through a user's account.
Two-step verification process
A single password may have been effective in the past when cyber crime was not as powerful, but since it is now at its peak and hackers are stronger than ever before, hospitals need better, more secure measures. The two-step verification process double checks the identity of the user prior to giving them access to important information by requiring them to input a code sent to another device. This may seem like a waste of precious time in serious environments like hospitals but mitigating the risk of a security breach will undoubtedly save hours of incident response implementation.
Proper network segmentation
Although this tool is extremely efficient in securing a business's network it is still not implemented by most healthcare providers. If correctly enforced, network segmentation can effectively limit the access that a hacker may have to a system. This means that in the event of a breach, hospitals and healthcare providers can continue to use their other networks while an incident response team manages the compromised network. In this way, if a ransomware attack holds one part of the network hostage, the hospital is not completely helpless and can continue providing services to its patients.
Secure messaging and email encryption technologies
Communication is a vital aspect of any healthcare organization, yet a study shows that nine out of ten hospitals in the US continue to rely on pagers. This tool only provides one-way communication and lacks the ability to provide a context of the situation since it does not permit interaction. Secure messaging applications and email encryption technologies are HIPAA compliant and ensure that any data that is transferred through them is encrypted. Additionally, secure messaging applications make sure that data is only sent to users that are a part of a covered entity's system. Also, in the event of theft or loss of a device, one can remotely delete messages. This mitigates some of the inevitable risks of data sharing.
This is an essential line of defense for health care providers that have transitioned to the cloud. Today, advanced cryptography tools allow organizations to safely encrypt all their data. In the event that a hacker is able to breach the system and steal information, they would not be able to read it.
Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW)
This tool consists of a combination of an enterprise firewall component, an intrusion prevention system (IPS) and application control. It is an improved version of the traditional firewall and can store more data while remaining resilient and versatile in combating cyber breaches. It improves functionality by strengthening pre-existing security systems and can monitor the presence of malware in system applications. Companies that have transitioned to the cloud can also utilize this tool by allowing authorized users to securely access data online.
The most successful attacks on healthcare organizations often occur through email. Users repeatedly fall for phishing scams and give hackers complete access to the system. Anti spam software may seem like a weak line of defense against security breaches but the reality is it is an extremely useful and practical way to mitigate the risk of hackers accessing sensitive healthcare information.