Healthcare institutions are the new target of cybercriminals. Because these institutions possess vulnerable patient data which is valuable on the Internet. People can sell these data at high prices and make different profits from them. According to Statista Research Department, the largest data breach in the USA has affected more than 3.51 million individuals.
In the health industry, ePHI (electronic protected health information) has been increasing for a long time. The covid-19 epidemic also contributes to this rising. Since more people than ever go to health institutions, the amount of data accumulated has also increased. Now, almost each healthcare providers keep vulnerable data and pose a risk to data security.
We know the importance of data protection in corporations. Once a data leakage happens, it can cause the corporation a disaster. They can lose their market value and reputation. On the other hand, obtaining a high amount of data means an amazing source of money for cybercriminals. When they intended to switch data to money, they can easily find buyers. People use this data for commercial purposes, advertisement, and sometimes worse aims.
It is the same for the health industry and they are not an exception. The medical infrastructure is a vulnerable target for cybercriminals so medical data is. Due to the sensitivity of data concerning the healthcare sector, data protection becomes a serious issue.
Digital technology transformation has a big share of cyber threats. If health organizations continue to keep private data only physically, it would not be a problem in terms of cyber security. But we live in a digital era and just like other organizations, health institutions use technology and keep patient information online.
There is so much software that facilitates data processing. They seem innocent and helpful but they can ruin the health system instantly. Imagine that a health institution’s data system has been hacked and people’s access’s denied. They can not pursue transactions. Furthermore, they can not reach the previous data and it can cause the health system to stop. Patients suffer from this in the first place. Then, patients’ data can be used for malicious purposes. On one side they can not access health services and on the other side, they became a victim of cyber crimes.
We mention outside threats so far. But you should know that inside threat are as dangerous as outsiders. People assume that threats are only coming from the outside and they neglect to take precautions inside. Healthcare employees who record patient data and other officials can cause data leakage. If they are not informed about the cyber risks and the vitality of data, they can skip some precautions. They can neglect to make updates and share personal passwords with others. All these are the fault for the data security.
So, we can say that data protection in the healthcare industry should be comprehensive. Managers must consider both inside and outside threats and regulate their actions according to that. We listed the foremost cybersecurity best practices for health organizations below.
Zero Trust refers to a cybersecurity method that prohibits privileges and supports more verifying. It means that users can not access all the data resources and so they can not pose a risk to it. The motto of Zero Trust is ‘‘trust none verify all’’.
In a Zero Trust protection, users should authenticate their identities to access any resource. If they can not verify their identity, they can not reach data. It does not mean preventing people from doing their work. This approach simply aims to unnecessary access. People can access data resources as much as they need but further access requests will be denied.
Authentication technologies, authorization strategies, and policies are the main components of Zero Trust. It is a complex framework that prompts total security. The prominent feature of Zero Trust is that it monitors, audits, and asks for authentication from users regardless of their situation. Authorization should be demonstrated by users even if they are outside of the network or inside.
Zero Trust healthcare implementations provide total data security to organizations and support their cyber compatibility. It puts another layer of protection on healthcare institutions’ cyber security walls.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a prominent regulation that concerns data protection. HIPAA provisions make rules to protect personal health information (PHI).
Health institutions can enhance their data security by considering HIPAA provisions. Because this Act regulates the basics of healthcare data protection such as documentation, staff training, creating procedures, and annual risk assessments.
Healthcare organizations should not underestimate the human factor of cyber security. The staff should be informed of fundamental rules and aware of the importance of the data that they process. Systematic and regular training can work and staff can learn how to protect vulnerable patient data. Internal threats can only be prevented by Zero Trust implementation and staff education.
We live in a data era and data became the most important asset of almost every organization. Healthcare organizations also get their shares and with the great amount of vulnerable data they are the indispensable target of cyber criminals. Having vulnerable data brings risks and data protection becomes vital more than ever.
Although there are several ways to provide data security in healthcare organizations, Zero Trust is a great method for total security. The reason is that while other methods can only protect organizations only from internal or outside threats, Zero Trust offers total protection and enable organizations to protect their data both from outside and inside threats.