The Relationship Between Cybersecurity and Healthcare
Have you ever thought of the amount of vital and personal information that your medical records contain and how they can leave you vulnerable to fraud? While this might seem too outrageous, but it would interest you to know that in reality, a number of scam cases have ensured through the exploitation of medical records and files. Most of these cases are through personal information that has to do with finances. And the implication is that a lot of this information can be used in various ways for fraudulent activities.
Some of these include getting access to a medical record system through various ways like hacks or changing the medical information of a patient to a wrong diagnosis in other to make them pay more money than they normally should pay. Overall, vulnerable cybersecurity is very dangerous to both the patients and the healthcare center, and it is important that maximum attention is being paid to the situation in other to prevent it from escalating more than it has.
In a bid to put an end to the danger of cyber-attack on healthcare, numerous discussions have been held to create awareness for both medical practitioners and the general public alike. Be that has it may, here are the things that you should know about healthcare and cybersecurity.
A Lot of Clinics Are Susceptible to Cyberattacks
Technology in our world today is being utilized in such a way that almost all clinical operations are done online. This makes operations easier and less complicated, especially the collection of various data. On the flipside, this leaves a lot of clinics vulnerable to cyber attacks. The most common threat they face is phishing in which these scammers act has legit entities just to get sensitive information such as the login details of either patients or medical practitioners. In other situation, it may be a fraudulent attempt to get delicate information such as financial details with the most common being credit card numbers.
Phishing is only one popular aspect, as there are many ways to go about cyber-attacks. Sometimes, these attempts are made by highly professionals with an in-depth knowledge of technology. This means that if your cybersecurity is not up to the task, it is most likely that you fall a victim.
Cyber attacks Disrupt Operationalization
Even if a cyber attack attempt is unsuccessful, it might have consequences such as the disruption of operations in the clinic. This happens mostly when a breach in cybersecurity has been made on the electronic health record (EHR), a place for storing all the data and information of every patient. This situation is being reported on a regular basis by clinics. Most times it leads to system shutdown, as the level at which the security has been breached will determine how long it would take to get it functioning again. It could be as little as four hours or less, or for more than 2 days.
This is very dangerous for any kind of institution, let alone the ones that deal with health, safety, and lives of humans, one of the reasons while it is imperative to invest richly on the quality of cybersecurity.
Research has shown that almost all clinics make use of cybersecurity measures that have been set up by employed software engineers. A lot of them fully rely on the security measures provided by these engineers, and as a matter of fact, do not bother to take extra measures on cybersecurity. However, some clinics take extra measures and even after their in-house software security team has provided them with cybersecurity, they still outsource their security management to a cybersecurity team to make sure that they are protected at every given time.
With the information gathered from these research, it is very glaring that a lot of these clinics are very vulnerable to cyber attack. Due to this, the American Medical Association (AMA) have taken a very important step to create awareness and hold several workshops on the importance of good cybersecurity service. Further steps were also taken to donate both software and hardware security to most hospitals and clinics that are susceptible to this cyber-attack so as to keep them safe. AMA has also reached out to the government to raise fund on cybersecurity resources so as to finally put an end to it. Also, advises and step to be taken to prevent cyber-attacks are being provided to both the medical practitioners and the patients.
The Challenges of New Technologies
One of the problems faced by cybersecurity today is the innovation of new technologies. Although these technologies prove to be important and needed, they also lead to the vulnerability of cybersecurity and this is a very serious issue. Sometimes, it is the complication of handling these technologies that pose to be a threat, leading to viruses, malware, and hackers such that vital information becomes accessible.
This is why it is very imperative that before a new technology is being utilized by a clinic, there should be various assessments relating to quality, cyber hygiene, cybersecurity, as well as its level of susceptibility to cyber-attack. New technologies should only be used once they have been generally accepted and certified by AMA.
For clinics, there ought to be a transition phase from the old technologies in such a way that the in house engineers have mastered the nitty-gritty aspect of the technology.
AMA has urged the federal government to make sure that the penalties are given on the requirement and standard of cybersecurity for every health care provider. However, they realized that this may prove to be far reached for them and therefore, they have encouraged the government to provide incentives to help encourage these cybersecurity measures. Some of these incentives include Medicare merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS); with this, clinics and hospitals are well compensated for great cybersecurity measures after an assessment by AMA.
Unfortunately, cybersecurity measures are not the forte of medical practitioners and it might even be difficult for them to understand how all these really work. However, it is important that they realize that whether or not they understand cybersecurity, they will be the most affected during a cyber-attack and this is enough reason to hire experts to go about this service for them. As long as they are fully invested in the cause, then they can be guaranteed quality services. Also, getting AMA to assess is also very important, and who knows if they might be lucky enough to benefit from MIPS
No matter how efficient the cybersecurity of a clinic is, it is important that it is being reviewed from time to time at regular intervals. AMA has warned that at least 80% of clinics are being targeted with cyber attacks via malicious emails, and a good way to stay safe is through these reviews. Also, cybersecurity is a very technical issue and must be treated as such. Every stakeholder in the medical industry is advised to be in regular contact with one another and provide useful information and initiative on how to limit the occurrence of cyber-attack.
Patients are also advised to keep vital information like their login details a secret at all times. Once access is being gained from patient’s end, there is virtually little or nothing the clinic can do about such cyberattack.
For Account Accounts and Password:
- Never share your login information with anyone, even within the medical organization
- Your login details should be as discreet and as unique as possible.
- All clinics should make sure that they employ the password strength policy when creating an account. The password should be at least 8 characters with the mixture of both symbols, letter, and figures. The password should also be changed at least every 90 days
- The remember password option on browsers should be avoided as much as possible
- Make sure that your device is locked when not in use.
- The software should be configured to update as soon as the latest version is available.
- Make sure that the system is active when these updates are meant to take place.
- It is also important the web browser you use is updated to the latest version
For Antivirus Software:
- Makes sure the antivirus software is from a very reliable source
- Make sure you are using the latest version of the software for maximum security
- Configure the software for optimal security measures
- You can reach out to the developers on settings and configurations you do not understand
Additional Computer Software
Take cognizance of additional software that is used for daily activities, and make sure you update them, from time to time.
Here are some cybersecurity safeguards to stay steer clear off cyber attacks:
Encryption is simply the conversion of delicate information into code or a format that makes it unreadable to anyone except the decryption key is provided. This can be used to protect patients and medical practitioner’s data in such a way that even if accesses are gained it will simply be unusable. AMA has advised that a lot of clinics make use of these measures as they are very effective for cybersecurity.
- Training and Security Awareness
Clinics should make sure that patients and medical practitioners are well educated against social engineering methods like phishing for fraudulent activities. A lot of people fall victim mostly due to the fact that they cannot differentiate a genuine email and a deceptive one. Although in the true sense, this may be very difficult to detect due to the fact that phishers make sure that these fake emails look exactly like genuine ones. However, with adequate security awareness and training, it will be possible to reduce the impact of phishing hereby preventing a cyber attack
- Audit Logs
The audit log is a very reliable cybersecurity measure and clinics are advised to utilize it. The basics of audit logs are simply to record and monitor various network and system activities on a daily basis. With this, if an irregularity occurs, or there is a breach in security, it will be noticeable swiftly. However, for more effectivity, there must be a regular review of the information collected on the system.
- Proper Software Configurations
Regardless of the cybersecurity measure that is being utilized, there are various configuration methods to make sure that they are very effective and provide the usual security defenses. This mainly has to do with the settings of the software like antimalware, encryption and audit logs. All of these will only function according to how they are being configured.
For encryption, if the safeguards are not well implemented, or the encryption software isn’t the latest version, there is the possibility of breaching to have access to these sensitive data. Antimalware on the other hands will only help can devices and files at intervals based on the software configuration. Also, antimalware demands regular maintenance and update of the software to perform optimally. Audit logs performance strictly depends on the log configuration, it is only this way it can be active in detecting network irregularities. The data and information that is being recorded and audited must be defined by the configuration settings. If these data are not collected regularly, this cybersecurity measure is ineffective because indiscriminate activities may successfully go unnoticed. Another important setting pertaining to the use of auto logs is the protection against its manipulation. This is a method that is mostly used for cyber attacks by scammers.
As can be seen, no matter the cybersecurity measure a clinic is utilizing, the configurations are just as important too. So pay adequate attention to the setting for firewalls, various servers, workstations, routers and every bit of cybersecurity component that is being utilized.
There goes the common saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’, and the implication of falling victim to cyber attack is very severe. This could lead to the total collapse of the clinic, and in situations where patients are being affected, there is the possibility of being sued, leading to a very damaging reputation.