Cybersecurity and data loss prevention are critical IT components at any organization.

However, for companies that handle protected health information, ramping up network security to prevent a cybersecurity attack requires a heightened sense of urgency.

A corporate online security breach can reveal consumer data such as credit card numbers, bank accounts, and mailing information.

A healthcare security breach has the potential of exposing deeply personal information such as medical conditions, treatments, social security numbers, billing information, clinical trial participation, and response to care.

And of course, HIPAA regulation creates its own set of requirements and penalties for failures to comply.

At its core, a healthcare organization is a business. However, hospitals, medical facilities, ambulatory care centers, and practitioner groups operate differently than other companies and face different cyber threats than their corporate counterparts.

Here are some of healthcare’s most acute sources of security vulnerabilities to be aware of:

Connected medical devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) has put the production and integration of new, wireless healthcare devices on hyper speed. Cutting edge technology and increased connectivity empowers nurses and physicians with real time data for around-the-clock patient assessment and evaluation.

However, the rising volume of stored patient data also increases the opportunity for a data breach, making it essential to establish an on-going connected medical device security program and monitor the connectivity of these devices 24/7.

Mobile access

Cloud-based medical applications and software solutions also pose a potential risk to healthcare organizations across every vertical.

While granting employees mobile access to patient data can enhance service levels and improve patient satisfaction, it can also quickly and easily pose a threat to network security measures, especially when employees are unfamiliar with existing security protocols.

The best way to counteract IT risks with a cloud-based system is to implement an extensive employee-training program to ensure staff members follow defined best practices at all times.

Phishing emails

Believe it or not, fake emails that lure unsuspecting readers into clicking still pose a significant threat to healthcare organizations.

A 2018 article posted in the HIPAA Journal entitled “Most Common Healthcare Phishing Emails Identified” listed the industry’s biggest email threats as:

1)    Fake payment notifications (58%)

2)    New mailbox messages alert (25.5%)

3)    False invoices (16.5%)

Once again, employee education is key to prevention. Every staff member should receive extensive training on how to identify a secure email as well as know how to recognize indicators of phishing or ransomware to reduce the chance of accidentally opening an infected link or document.

Conducting simulated phishing campaigns at your organization is an effective way to manage and change employee behavior.

Corrupted encryption

Encryption – the process of scrambling communication to prevent anyone other than the intended recipient from reading data – can prove a formidable force that protects both on-premise networks as well as cloud-based systems and devices. However, some high-level hackers have developed malware that successfully infiltrates encrypted systems. To prevent a gap in encryption performance, IT staff should fortify the system with added security layers designed to pinpoint and decrypt suspicious online indicators as soon as they occur.

Partnering with a healthcare cybersecurity MSSP

One of the best ways to prevent a cyber attack at a healthcare organization is to partner with a managed security service provider (MSSP) that specializes in healthcare cybersecurity solutions.

An agile and experienced firm provides a dedicated team of resources, proactively conducting HIPAA risk analysis, running vulnerability scans, managing data loss prevention, and securing connected medical devices across every level of your facility to protect both your patients and your organization.

Most importantly, the right partner will become an extension of your team and through collaboration will train your employees with the very latest data security best practices for sustainable cybersecurity results.