Strategically Combating Ransomware and Healthcare Cybersecurity Threats

Modern technology is integral to the operations of healthcare organizations. From the sophisticated patient engagement solutions to modern EHR Infrastructure, technology is necessary to provide a high standard of service. But, unlike many other sectors, healthcare is being targeted by cybercriminals because of the value of patient records and the trust level many patients have with their providers.

Last year, in particular, was quite challenging as healthcare providers faced a spike in healthcare cybersecurity issues. The global pandemic coupled with an increase in remote work resulted in a more vulnerable IT infrastructure for many healthcare organizations. Cybercriminals will always exploit a crisis, and COVID-19 provided a perfect platform. Many hackers used the pandemic to send out phishing scams related to COVID such as posing as a healthcare provider with information on the pandemic or getting the vaccine. Because of this, healthcare providers are being forced into action to combat these increasing cybersecurity threats. As a healthcare IT solutions provider, we want to help you identify areas to examine within your own healthcare environment to prevent specific healthcare cybersecurity threats.

Top Ways to Prevent Healthcare Cybersecurity Threats

Improve Staff Training

Healthcare organizations should start by looking at the “human element.” Without adequate training, human error will likely be the cause of the majority of business cyberattacks.

According to Gartner, 95% of breaches are blamed on human error, but for many employees it’s an honest mistake. Hackers are getting better and better at creating realistic looking emails. In fact, according to a 2019 survey, 49% of respondents admitted to clicking links from unknown senders at work, with 29% doing so more than once.

Since the pandemic started, Check Point research showed more than 1,700 zoom related domains. Hackers are getting smart and exploiting new work from home scenarios as part of their target.

Looking at this behavior, it becomes clear why it’s relatively easy to target employees. Staying alert to healthcare cybersecurity threats and making good preventative decisions is the last thing that is normally on the mind of medical staff. The good news is there are many programs and videos that have simple training that can help your staff learn from other’s mistakes. Firms like Ninjio create time-efficient training to help employees stay equipped. If you are not training your employees, can you really expect them to thwart attacks?

Leverage Managed IT Services

Businesses can suffer substantial financial and reputation losses from crippling data loss or unauthorized data access. In some cases, healthcare facilities end up having to take measures such as going back to pen and paper record keeping while addressing the problem.

Many companies that have spent millions to guard entry points are beginning to realize that it’s only a matter of time before your security is breached. You must have a secondary line of defense to safeguard your critical data. Healthcare organizations are leaning on managed IT service providers to help them create a medical data management strategy to ensure, if there is a breach, you still have more to rely on than a pen and paper. Solutions such as Backup as a Service (BaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and even CISO as a Service are options that can provide you with a team to turn to when you have a healthcare cybersecurity threat.

Enhance Mobile Device Security

Mobile device security is critically important to hospitals and health care systems, especially in the wake of COVID-19. As many workers are adopting mobile devices and working from home, it is imperative to provide access while at the same time securing your network. Additionally, with medical devices growing, you need to know if anything unusual or nefarious is happening with any of those devices.

Fortunately, companies like Medigate who provide IoT security and Aruba that provides network security can help combat these issues.

Consider Cloud Solutions

Since the introduction of the electronic health records (EHR) mandate, healthcare facilities have been required to create a secure infrastructure for their data. This means that most hospitals have their own on-site storage infrastructure. Maintaining this system can be a complex and costly affair that requires hospitals to hire full-time IT pros with experience in healthcare cybersecurity threats.

  1. A more secure and affordable solution may be to create a hybrid infrastructure where you house your most secure data in more expensive and costly locations and your secondary data in other locations.
  2. Another consideration would be to work with an outside provider to set up secure cloud storage for your infrastructure. Remember to  ensure that the company you pick understands HIPAA and other healthcare requirements, so you don’t end up paying unnecessary fines. A good service provider will give you peace of mind through the provision of a suite of services backed by top-tier technology and run by trained IT security experts.
  3. A third cloud option would be an EHR as a service such as Comport’s Epic-as-a-Service offering.

A competent healthcare IT solutions provider should ensure that you have multiple options to look at for your data. Especially in healthcare, not all data is created equally, and you need a technology provider that understands that.

Proactive Device Security

Healthcare organizations are moving beyond BYOD/IoT policies (though that’s still a good starting point) to identifying what’s on their network and how those devices are performing.

You want to ensure that access is simple but secure. You need to protect your network without making it too complicated for your users. Systems such as Aruba ClearPass allow you to utilize auto provisioning for employees, contractors, and users with specific permissions for each subset.

Continuously monitor your network with the help of experts. Newer technologies like Medigate use deep packet inspection (DPI) to provide a real-time inventory of all the medical and IoT devices attempting to connect to the network. If there is any unusual or risky activity happening with those devices you will get an alert and can determine how you want to address it.

There are many technologies to help with healthcare IoT solution security but the most important point to take away is that in the end your goal is to automate manual tasks, allowing your IT team to become more efficient and improve patient care.

Healthcare Security Costs

Healthcare breaches cost healthcare businesses billions of dollars per year. Not only that but patients may not want to come back to healthcare organizations that have allowed their data to be compromised. With this in mind, the medical industry needs to be aggressive and proactive in battling these healthcare cybersecurity threats. Given the opportunity, criminals will take the opportunity to exploit patient data and shut down healthcare organizations all in the name of cold hard cash.

ComportSecure has been providing healthcare IT solutions for more than 30 years. With decades of experience, Comport can fight these cybercriminals alongside your team, providing guidance and data management solutions for your most secure healthcare records. Learn the best practices for fighting healthcare cybersecurity threats with our disaster recovery white paper below.

Combat Cybersecurity Threats

Bill Flatley, Field CTO for Healthcare

Bill is responsible for technical strategies and recommendations for Comport’s Healthcare clients. His extensive experience includes four healthcare systems in leadership roles supporting Clinical Applications, Digital Health, and Office of the CIO as the primary liaison between IT and the business.

Extend the capabilities of your IT team with Comport’s technology services and solutions.

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