3 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Small Medical Practice from Data Theft
For cybercriminals, medical data has high value. Patient records contain a wealth of personal and medical information, making them the ideal target for attackers seeking identity theft. In fact, the healthcare industry is one of the most targeted by hackers.
Large hospitals usually have the personnel and capital resources to protect patient health information and avoid disruption of operations. When it comes to data theft, small medical practices are perhaps the most vulnerable. Ransomware attacks are a unique and growing threat to healthcare organizations. Small physician practices are targeted as they serve as gateways to larger health systems. Here are three things you can do to protect your small medical practice from data theft:
#1: Cloud Technology
With cloud technology, small medical practices can gain access to the latest tools in cybersecurity as well as automatic updates. Cloud technology offers data backup and recovery. In the absence of a dedicated IT manager overseeing cyber protection, it is easy for small physician groups to become outdated on upgrades and security patches, making the organization an easy target for cyber-attacks. Cloud technology is a cost-effective method of preempting risk.
It is worth noting that cloud technology is not a single entity. There are multiple cloud applications. A vendor can suggest applications that interface with those already in use at a practice for seamless interoperability. Some of the key features you should look for include:
- Hourly or daily data backup or mirroring solutions
- Data encryption for transit and storage
- Prevention of data loss
- Security incident detection
- Access control
- Secure data center
#2: Employee Education
A critical element of data security at small medical practices is employee education. For example, if employees are checking their personal social media accounts or browsing entertainment sites from workplace systems, they are putting the organization at risk because they could inadvertently click on a dangerous link. Another example is if personnel forget to lock their computer when stepping away for a short while.
Since the potential for negligence is high, ongoing employee education and training is a proactive approach to implement data security. This ensures employees are careful in their computer habits and vigilant for anyone seeking unauthorized access to health information, for example, visitors or maintenance personnel. In the era of malware attacks, your small practice should consider the following practices to reduce cyber risk:
- Employ a dedicated cybersecurity trainer or professional educator
- Conduct periodic education programs and ongoing training
- Focus on compliance and security with updated educational material
#3: Risk Analysis
An important step that small physician practices can take to enhance their cyber safety and prevent data loss is to partner with an expert security provider to conduct a risk analysis. This ensures best practices are being followed and there are no loopholes in the organization’s security system. Periodic security evaluations are an economical way of protecting a practice with limited resources. This allows data security providers to identify gaps and suggest solutions to address the vulnerabilities. Risk analysis allows small healthcare organizations to adopt affordable solutions that are not disruptive to workflow.
The probability of a malware attack may be low, but the consequences of such an attack, should it occur, are enormous. For this reason, small medical practices must mitigate the risk of data theft and protect valuable health information with proactive measures such as those discussed above.