In another instance of data loss to hit the healthcare sector, Cedar Springs Hospital, CO, has confirmed that extensive patient records have been compromised. Multiple records were copied to an unencrypted external device, upon the request of the Colorado health department.
Although the use of an unencrypted external device breached the state health department’s own policy, matters escalated when the device was subsequently misplaced. While in the possession of a Colorado health department surveyor, the device, containing names, addresses, Social Security numbers, medical diagnoses, and treatment information, was lost.
As another incidence of human error causes data loss within the healthcare sector, organizations are under increasing pressure to implement more robust and effective cybersecurity measures.
Cybersecurity in Healthcare
Every industry faces cybersecurity threats, but the healthcare sector is particularly vulnerable to data breaches due to the sensitive information it holds. This is, perhaps, why ransomware and crimeware attacks are so prevalent in the healthcare industry.
Sadly, the depletion of resources caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to increase the rate of data breaches and security threats in the upcoming months. When staff are overstretched and under-resourced, it’s not surprising that data loss increases, particularly incidents attributable to human error.
However, it’s vital that top-level executives divert additional resources to this area. Healthcare cybersecurity remains a critical issue, both for medical facilities and their patients. Although the sector is subject to enhanced rules and regulations, this serves little purpose if infrastructure is not adequately secured.
Protecting Your Organization
Any organization operating within the healthcare field is required to implement HIPAA regulations. However, this can be difficult to achieve if your internal IT systems don’t integrate HIPAA requirements and restrictions into their platforms. By incorporating these protocols into platforms, via on-screen warnings and multi-factor authentication, for example, you can successfully protect your data and your patients.
However, this isn’t the only way you can protect your organization from the cybersecurity threats it’s facing. Recognizing the risk posed by employees is particularly important if you want to reduce the rate of data breaches within your infrastructure. Although the majority of internal data breaches are accidents, rather than malicious, this doesn’t negate the impact they have on patients or your organization’s reputation.
By implementing employee security training programs and certification systems, however, you can ensure that all staff have the appropriate knowledge to adhere to the relevant protocols. With theoretical and practical training, for example, employees can develop the skills they need to use and maintain your systems without putting data at risk. Many Colorado healthcare companies choose to work with a local IT company in Lone Tree to put secure practices in place.
Developing a Healthcare Cybersecurity Strategy
A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is essential if you want to protect your organization. As new threats emerge all the time, it’s vital that your security plan incorporates emerging threats into your strategy and identifies an effective way to defend against them.