How can medical offices keep data secure in the digital age?
It might seem like a straightforward question, but it’s one that all medical providers need to be asking – and, unfortunately, it’s one that too many aren’t. Cybercrime has been a growing sector since the inception of the internet, and, if 2018’s mid-year cybercrime statistics are any indication, it doesn’t look likely to decline anytime soon.
That, combined with the increasingly severe consequences of a data breach, make network security essential for medical offices.
Medical office data security requires an intentional commitment to best practices. Here’s what that looks like.
Network security may be digital, but it starts with a focus on people. If medical office staff have an inadequate understanding of best practices and security policies, it doesn’t matter how technically secure the network is – human error always trumps technical defense.
That’s why hackers so often resort to phishing, attempting to bait compromising information out of people in order to penetrate a network. With the keys to the castle, they can effectively stroll in and bring the entire system crashing down, likely while profiting from the personal health data stored within.
Training goes a long way toward minimizing the chances of that happening; people equipped with good information are far less likely to fall for common data mining traps, and systems that are used correctly are far more likely to hold their integrity over time.
Training should be:
It can be so tempting to hit the “Update Later” button when new software is released. That’s true on personal machines, and it’s true of medical office systems, too.
Updating firmware, hardware, and software can feel tedious, but it’s a truly necessary component of good medical office cybersecurity. Regular updates keep systems secure – in fact, updates and patches are often released in an attempt to negate known system vulnerabilities.
Conversely, hackers often take advantage of delayed updates to break into vulnerable systems. Many of the most notable ransomware attacks – WannaCry, Petra, and others – have capitalized on known issues that could have been resolved with an update. The same is true of many data breaches.
So, as appealing as it can be to procrastinate, to the greatest degree possible, strive to keep systems up to date.
In addition to staying updated on software, firmware, and hardware, it’s important to also stay abreast of developing cybersecurity knowledge.
For these purposes, we’re speaking less of general knowledge training for medical office staff, and more toward a proactive, leading IT team.
Think of this as offensive knowledge acquisition, as opposed to a defensive reaction against known vulnerabilities; the better equipped your IT team is to search out, identify, and navigate around potential threats, the more likely your medical office data will stay secure.
And the easier you’ll be able to sleep at night, too.
With proactive knowledge should come technical action: to best protect your data, proactively defend your network with multiple layers of security.
We’ve covered the elements of a secure network in more detail before, but here are a few questions to ask:
Finally, a word of wisdom: don’t take HIPAA compliance lightly.
As an IT provider in Maryland, we see far too many medical offices acting in dangerous negligence toward HIPAA requirements. Everyone, of course, is willing to acknowledge the importance of HIPAA, but underneath the lip service there’s often the perception that compliance isn’t as necessary as it’s talked up to be. After all, few people know a medical office that’s actually been fined.
The reality is that HIPAA is critical for medical offices. Fines are increasing, and the risks of data breaches are, too.
Hopefully, these tips have been helpful as you consider securing your medical office’s network.
Want peace of mind? Get in touch with us.
At Swift Systems, we’re honored to partner with medical offices to help them greatly reduce their risks of cyberattacks. We work alongside internal IT teams to give them the support they need, and our experts in cyber security can minimize the factors that are likely to lead to a hack and HIPAA violation.
With our managed IT services, your costs are the same, every month, and you’ll be able to trust that you have a proactive IT team keeping your network safe.
If you’re ready to take the stress out of your medical office’s IT, let’s talk.
IT systems are foundational to modern businesses. Too often, that foundation is unsteady. Unpredictable outages, insecure networks, and unreliable performance from mission-critical systems can jeopardize your entire business.
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