Cyber attacks and data breaches are on the rise in virtually every industry that utilizes and stores sensitive information to power its operations. However, the healthcare vertical is often particularly vulnerable to a network security lapse, often finding their data loss prevention efforts powerless against the increasingly sophisticated and complex cybercriminal terrain. Additionally, many healthcare organizations often realize (too late) that the biggest threat to their IT systems isn’t always external hackers; each year, several cybersecurity breaches occur due to both blatant and inadvertent employee misconduct.
What Are the Best Practices to Maintain Network Security at Your Healthcare Organization
One of the most effective ways to keep your organization’s sensitive data protected at all times is to create a network security checklist across every relevant department and resource. Some essential best practices to consider include:
Implement Password Protocol
Password requirements can prove an invaluable first line of defense against cybercriminals, making them a must on both computers and mobile devices. Strong passwords are typically at least eight characters and must use a combination of lower and upper case letters, at least one special character, and at least one number. For increased data protection, have users routinely update their passwords.
Install A Firewall
Any network connected to the Internet requires a firewall to help prevent unauthorized access and intrusions. Healthcare organizations can opt for a software or hardware firewall version. Once installed, a firewall’s primary function is to carefully inspect each incoming message to ensure its authenticity before allowing it into the network.
Maintain Updated Anti-Virus Software
Many healthcare organizations overlook the current status of their anti-virus software. Cybercriminals are constantly developing and unleashing viruses into the IT networks of healthcare organizations, exploiting any vulnerabilities they come across. Even newer computers and devices can be at risk of a virus due to a previously unknown system compromise, making it vital to maintain updated anti-virus software at all times.
Restrict Access To Networks and Sensitive Data
Beyond password protections, healthcare organizations should also develop standard practices that limit access to private health information (PHI) based on the need and relevance of every user within the network. An IT specialist or administrator can create an access control list that identifies which individual files should be accessible to specific employees or external system users.
Restrict Access To Devices
Beyond digital assets, healthcare organizations should always have a practice that secures the actual devices used throughout the entire company as well. A lost device or laptop can store countless private files and assets. Keeping a steady inventory of all existing devices in use, as well as their current location, can help a medical company quickly identify when an item has been misplaced or stolen.
Have An Emergency Preparedness Plan
Man made and natural disasters can occur at any time. It’s critical to design an emergency preparedness plan that both backs up sensitive information before an unexpected event and establishes a process for recovering lost assets after it occurs.
Many healthcare administrators are surprised to learn that data breaches can occur due to internal staff negligence. While there’s always a chance that an employee will knowingly compromise network security, many security lapses occur simply because staff members didn’t realize they were breaking protocol. In addition to onboarding training, employees should also undergo a diverse range of user education and instruction to help them sustain secure emails and cybersecurity at all times.
Invest in Vulnerability Threat Management (VTM)
The best way to protect your organization’s and patients’ data is to stay ahead of any system weaknesses and potential threats. Security personnel are prone to human error, and manual processes are limited as a result. With threat and vulnerability assessment protocols, these issues can be detected and reported automatically, saving your organization time, effort, and resources.
Fortified Health Security creates security checklists and protocols for healthcare organizations across every practice. Contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our network security specialists today.