There is little doubt that technological advancement has brought significant improvements in the healthcare sector. But, unbridled digitization has exposed this sector to information security risk.
The Identity Theft Resource Center or ITRC states that data breach affects millions of people every year in the healthcare sector. The situation is getting even worse with time.
Patients’ data is highly delicate and sensitive. The very nature of this data requires the utmost security and complete confidence. There is no room for any outside intrusion.
Healthcare providers should take Information security very seriously. They should develop and deploy robust information security plans that protect patients’ records. The program must also focus on the emerging threats in this sector. Prevention of any breach or cyberattack is the ultimate goal.
In the article below, we will discuss some of the reasons why data security is vital in healthcare units.
The Advent of Creative Hackers.
Hackers have always been resourceful and creative. They are continually evolving. They make use of novel techniques for identifying any loophole within a system. Once identified, they use it to breach the system and retrieve all the data that they want.
Healthcare data is beneficial for hackers. This data is readily saleable to fraudsters and criminals. They can also sell it to hostile spy agencies for a reasonable price.
In light of hackers’ creative approaches, the healthcare units and hospitals must employ information security specialists. A person with a masters degree in health information management is perfect for such kind of job. An IT professional will deploy cutting-edge information security systems for the benefit of the patients.
Ransomware in Healthcare
Ransomware is not a new term for IT specialists. But, its use in healthcare units is a novel phenomenon. Hackers have only recently started using ransomware in healthcare. They would hack the system of a particular healthcare facility. They demand excessive amounts as a ransom for accessing patients’ data.
Such incidents have happened before. Hackers attacked many healthcare facilities in 2016 with demands for money. The result was a loss of time and money. Patients also suffered due to this issue.
In another incident, a medical facility in Los Angeles became a victim. They had to pay more than 15,000 Dollars. They also lost around one week of work during negotiations.
Ransomware is a double-edged sword for healthcare facilities. On the one hand, it incurs financial losses. On the other, it wastes valuable time.
The advent of mobile devices and hand-held gadgets has simplified communication in many ways. One can access any website on the mobile. Carrying out the financial transaction through mobile applications is commonplace. Many healthcare applications also make use of mobile apps.
However, mobile applications are prone to security breaches. They pose a clear and present danger to the sanctity of patient data. A minor violation in the form can result in a massive information security breach.
Continuous monitoring and sustained vigilance can take care of this issue.
Increased Risk of Working with Third Parties
Most healthcare units have agreements with third parties for the provision of certain services. There are times when it becomes necessary to share patient-related information with third party operators.
Information shared with these vendors may be private and critical. However, failing to share this information will result in poor service.
Third-party vendors are aware of the gravity of the patient data breach. But working with them increases information security risk manifold.
It calls for a comprehensive assessment of risks associated with working with third parties. The development of a policy should be a prime objective. Following this policy is mandatory for working with third parties. Data access to third-party vendors should be clearly defined. All vendors handling critical data on behalf of the healthcare unit must have a legal agreement with the help of a non-disclosure agreement.
Protecting data in the Information Age.
Cost control is one of the essential elements of any healthcare facility. Protecting valuable personal information is also critical. Costs should not be the factor when a healthcare facility is laying the foundations of its security infrastructure.
A Reliable and fool-proof information security blueprint is necessary. Officials responsible for information security should be proactive rather than passive. They should not only thwart any attacks, but they should also be ready to face any future challenges. It is the age of information. Hence, neglecting information security is not an option.
The healthcare industry is highly risky when it comes to information security. Virus infection, data theft, hacking, and ransomware are only a few faces of this emerging threat.
But, there are several ways of mitigating these risks. First of all, the healthcare unit must have a team of cybersecurity experts. Second, they must have a security plan that encompasses all these threats. Finally, the implementation of the security plan is necessary. This three-layered approach will ensure that all your information is entirely secure, and the exposure to risks becomes zero.
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