Security breaches in healthcare put hospitals, doctors, and patients at risk. But why do they happen? This is why hospitals are frequently targeted by hackers.
Over the past couple of decades, the Internet has evolved into one of the most powerful tools that businesses in every industry have ever seen.
Not only does it offer the capability of seamless communication, it also allows companies to optimize their operations through processes such as marketing and data storage.
But, Internet usage carries great risk in the form of cyber attacks, especially in the healthcare industry. In fact, security breaches in healthcare can be so detrimental that recovery from them may be nearly impossible.
For example, a healthcare database could have all of its patients' information compromised by a hacker's ransomware, forcing the facility to pay the hacker money to maintain the data's integrity or risk its deletion or theft.
Luckily, security breaches in healthcare are preventable. But, it's important to know why they occur before you can focus on protecting yourself against them.
Continue reading to find out exactly why they happen and what you can do about it.
1. Outdated Security Software
One of the most common causes of security breaches in the healthcare industry is the use of outdated antivirus and computer security software. In fact, the healthcare industry loses approximately $8 billion each year due to faulty software.
But, the lack of current software isn't limited to only security programs. Outdated management software can leave gaps insecurity that hackers can easily locate and take advantage of.
For example, a healthcare facility's management system may be disjointed and offer little to no possibility of oversight from a centralized location. Thus, there will be no way of keeping tabs on all of the potential security risks.
It is for this reason that many hospitals are pursuing cloud storage for their sensitive information so that all of the patients' data can be stored and managed in one area, providing the maximum amount of security.
As a general rule of thumb, the more complicated data operations and storage are, the greater the risk of having that information compromised. Thus, simplicity is often the best option.
2. Lack of Automation
During recent years, automation has seen a sharp rise in usage by businesses in order to save time and optimize workflow. Although people at first feared that automation would take jobs and leave employees homeless, it has become a powerful tool for almost every type of company.
Unfortunately, a lot of the work involved in healthcare data management is manual, leaving little room for automation to take place. Not only does this create a slower work environment, it adds a human error as a risk factor when it comes to security breaches in healthcare.
To make matters worse, human error isn't limited only to data entry. Manual software engineering also poses a significant threat to the integrity of the facility's security.
As a result, hackers are often able to find oversights made by software engineers and capitalize on them in order to breach a hospital security system. The amount of downtime and damage to intellectual property from one mistake could be catastrophic.
3. Healthcare Data Has a High Value
When you find that someone has stolen your credit card number or other financial information, the problem is often immediately resolved once you contact your credit card company or bank. That information instantly becomes useless to the hacker, and you can begin to develop a plan to protect your new financial information.
With a patient's healthcare information, it's not quite that simple.
Healthcare records for patients include their phone number, date of birth, full name, and Social Security number, which can put them well on the way to experience identity theft if that information falls into the wrong hands.
Since healthcare records often sell on the black market for as much as $50 for a single patient, hospitals who find themselves on the receiving end of a cyber attack could end up providing hundreds of millions of dollars to the hackers responsible.
While it is impossible to create a perfect safeguard against a security breach, medical facilities should make it one of their top priorities. Those who remain lax in their security measures will have their repetition suffer as patients begin to realize their information is not safe with them.
4. Relying Solely on HIPAA Compliance
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was created in order to provide guidelines on data privacy. But, simply following these provisions do not guarantee that your data will remain private.
You can think of HIPAA compliance as the bare minimum you have to do in order to keep your patients' information safe. Therefore, it does not include other measures that would help bolster the security of sense of data.
For example, encryption is one of the most effective methods of keeping data safe. But, encryption is not required by HIPAA standards, leaving hospitals who rely solely on HIPAA guidelines to be at risk of a cyber attack.
Furthermore, technological innovation advances much faster than HIPAA requirements do, leaving it up to the facility itself to decide what extra measures they need to take.
Security Breaches in Healthcare Are more Common Than They Should Be
But action can be taken against that. With the proper preventive measures and enough vigilance and maintaining data security, you'll be able to minimize the risk of security breaches in healthcare.
Even if it takes additional time and funding, data security should never be overlooked. Even one breach can be nearly impossible to recover from for everyone affected.
Want to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself? Check out the services we offer.