The number of healthcare cyberattacks doubled in 2020, while 4 in 5 physicians in the United States report that they have experienced cyberattacks. Breaches have become a significant threat to healthcare organizations of all sizes, which has put healthcare cybersecurity best practices in the spotlight.
The fallout from a cybersecurity breach can be substantial. Organizations that fall victim to a breach can face state and federal penalties, incur the high cost of risk mitigation for victims, and suffer damage to their reputation. A breach can even force a healthcare provider to shut down operations for days or even go out of business.
That's why it's essential for healthcare organizations to strengthen their protection against cyber threats. Here are six healthcare cybersecurity best practices you should follow.
1. Launch a Security Awareness Phishing Campaign
A cybersecurity strategy is only as good as the weakest link, which is often your employees. It takes only one person to fall prey to a single phishing email for cybercriminals to breach your entire system. Adequate employee training is key to preventing phishing scams, which trick the recipients into giving up their login information so hackers can infiltrate your network.
A security awareness phishing campaign simulates a phishing attack and tracks how your staff responds. You can then share the results with your employees and show them how to identify and report suspected phishing attempts. Regular awareness campaigns can help you keep cybersecurity top of mind among your staff members so they're less likely to fall victim to such attacks.
2. Conduct a Security Risk Assessment
All healthcare providers are required to undergo regular security risk assessments per HIPAA guidelines. These evaluations analyze your IT environment and identify security gaps so that you can address them promptly to remain compliant with HIPAA.
Besides your IT infrastructure and network, risk assessments should also cover the security posture of your vendors and business associates, employee training and education, backup and recovery, and other areas of importance and concern. When you work with a reputable healthcare IT provider to conduct these evaluations, you should receive a comprehensive report on your security vulnerabilities as well as guidance for making improvements, implementing remediation, and upgrading your IT infrastructure.
3. Perform Regular Dark Web Scans
Digital credentials of healthcare facilities (e.g., username and password for logging into your system) are some of the most valuable assets that hackers buy and sell on the dark web. You're more likely to experience a data breach if your credentials end up on the dark web.
Regular dark web scans, which comb through the corners of the Internet for stolen usernames, passwords, and personally identifiable information (PII), will alert you when your credentials show up on the dark web. You can then change or delete these credentials so that malicious actors who possess the information can't breach your network. Details about how your credentials might have shown up on the dark web can inform staff training and future security measures to safeguard login information used in your organization.
4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Two-factor or multi-factor authentication (2FA or MFA) requires users to provide two or more pieces of credentials to verify their identities when logging into your network. These can be a username/password, a PIN, a code sent via smartphone, and a fingerprint scan.
2FA or MFA is used by many organizations that handle sensitive data. It's a highly effective security measure to deter hackers from infiltrating a network. A healthcare IT specialist can help you set up 2FA or MFA for your system per HIPAA requirements. Most reputable cloud software providers already offer the ability to set up 2FA, so make sure to activate the feature and set up your employees to access protected information securely.
5. Migrate to Cloud Computing Platforms
Cloud computing offers many benefits, one of which is enhanced security. Most HIPAA-compliant cloud providers have a team of security experts dedicated to ensuring that your data is always protected. You don't have to worry about maintaining and upgrading the software or server that processes and stores your sensitive information.
An experienced healthcare cloud services provider can help you migrate your IT infrastructure and data storage to the cloud. It can also design a strategy for ongoing risk management and IT policy implementation to protect your system and data from cybercriminals. You should automate network monitoring, auditing, and reporting, which can help you better respond to suspicious activities, minimize damages in the event of a data breach, and reduce the cost of security audits.
6. Implement a Backup and Recovery Plan
Ransomware attacks or security breaches can lead to data loss and costly downtime. To minimize the impact of such an event, you need a comprehensive backup and recovery plan to ensure business continuity and resiliency.
Most cloud software providers have a backup and recovery plan in place to safeguard their customers' data. You can also store encrypted data in a dedicated, HIPAA-compliant cloud server. The backup server should be detached from your production systems and live in a different physical location so hackers can't access the backup data even if they breach your network.
Implementing Your Healthcare Cybersecurity Best Practices Strategy
Healthcare cybersecurity best practices involve more than just fending off hackers when they try to infiltrate your system. A comprehensive approach ensures ongoing protection through vigilant testing, continual learning, and strategically planned defenses that identify and deter potential threats while best ensuring HIPAA compliance.
To protect your facility and sensitive patient information from malicious actors, you should implement a cybersecurity strategy that covers endpoint protection, automated breach detection, end-to-end data encryption, dark web monitoring, penetration testing, employee training, phishing protection, backup and recovery, incidence response, and threat remediation.
Unfortunately, most healthcare providers lack sufficient in-house resources to stay current with the latest healthcare cybersecurity best practices — which, in and of itself, is a substantial undertaking. That's why more facilities are choosing to work with a healthcare managed services provider (MSP) that specializes in healthcare IT for round-the-clock monitoring and protection, such as Medicus IT. Learn more about how our security and compliance services keep healthcare providers protected and then get in touch to discuss how we can help meet your cybersecurity needs.