Why Healthcare Workers Should Care About Cybersecurity

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The average healthcare data breach now exceeds ​$6.5 million​ or $429 per patient. Healthcare workers have a responsibility to safeguard their patients, and that includes their personal data. Beyond this, however, these statistics shed light on the general state of cybersecurity in healthcare.

It’s getting worse each year, and it’s putting healthcare workers themselves directly at risk. Here are a few reasons you need to start taking cybersecurity seriously and some easy ways to improve your safety in the digital world.

Healthcare Systems are a Data Goldmine

Over the last few years, we’ve seen impressive healthcare breakthroughs in technologies like telehealth, digital therapeutics, and remote patient monitoring. All of this is based on the massive amount of PHI stored inside healthcare networks.

Of course, it’s not just patient data but also employee data that needs to be kept secure. But this presents its own challenges. With so much data and different access points, both externally and internally, it stretches healthcare workers thin.

Attacks Hurt Your Ability to Do Your Job

Even if your clinical staff doesn’t deal much daily with sensitive EHRs (which is growing unlikely these days), everybody relies on the efficacy of the healthcare network.

If something knocks that down, then your ability to deliver outstanding care is immediately put at risk. And this is what ​the spike in ransomware​ has been doing to healthcare systems around the country. Ransomware threatens everything you do by locking hospital personnel out of the vital files they need to do their jobs.

Further, so much of a hospital’s day-to-day operation is conducted by non-clinical staff, including medical coders, auditors, and other team members who are the vital intermediary between patient and system data.

COVID Has Only Picked Up the Pace of Attack

While the coronavirus has slowed down our ability to travel, see friends, and even just go to work, it hasn’t stopped hackers. They are becoming more and more innovative.

Throughout the duration of the pandemic, hackers have ​been attacking healthcare​ workers. And it only seems to be accelerating.

Hackers have increasingly realized how vulnerable healthcare networks are, taking advantage of the confusion and increased demands on frontline workers during this time. They are using that to wreak all kinds of havoc.

How to Step Up Your Cybersecurity Game Now

We know how busy you are, but the risk is too significant not to start taking effective steps to protect yourself, your patients, and your coworkers. A proper cybersecurity plan might even save lives.

Fortunately, a few simple steps go a long way in preventing cyber-attacks and minimizing damage should an attack occur.

Above all, you need a VPN. Healthcare systems are deploying them, especially as vital staff like coders and revenue cycle management teams continue to work offsite.

VPNs safeguard your internet connection through strong encryption and IP anonymization. It can improve privacy and security. You must use one anytime you go online, regardless of whether you’re at work or not. For more information and excellent deals, ​check out this NordVPN review​.

From here, it’s time to get serious about file security. Healthcare data is extremely sensitive, but all too often, it’s left unguarded on open servers and networks. This has to stop!

The first step is once again harnessing encryption to lock all sensitive files. All patient data, along with personnel information, must be encrypted and only accessible to those who must see it. Finally, ransomware attacks thrive because hospitals do not have adequate backups in place. As you begin encrypting key files, create a secure backup of them by following the “​Rule of Three.​”

This means you should have at least three copies of any important data on three different storage media and at least one copy offsite. You can keep some things in the cloud. This might sound like a lot of work. Yet, you can set auto-backups to take care of this during non-priority hours to ensure hackers never take your system offline.

It’s Time For Healthcare Workers to Fight Back Against Hackers

Healthcare workers have been through enough this year. With all the challenges of COVID-19, plus the economic uncertainty, the last thing they deserve is to be hacked.

That’s why you have to improve your cybersecurity wherewithal. Start with these three steps and build towards comprehensive cyber-hygiene across your life. You’ll not only reduce your chance of getting hacked at work but everywhere in your life. And that’s the kind of assurance we all need right now!

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