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Security Threats in HealthCare Systems

Electronic health records, also referred to as EHRs, contain a host of sensitive information about patients’ medical histories. EHRs make it possible for physicians and other healthcare professionals, as well as insurance companies, to share information. This makes it easier to both coordinate care and facilitate insurance matters.

HIPAA Mandates Security for Healthcare

Due to the sensitive nature of EHRs, as well as the fact that healthcare providers must comply with the privacy and security rules outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), trustworthy storage and backup data solutions are crucial to keeping your company in compliance and maintaining your leading reputation in the industry. HIPPA requires healthcare providers to keep their patients’ data secure, so it’s critical that EHRs are stored, transmitted and disposed of appropriately and according to regulation.

Healthcare Security Threats

Unfortunately, however, there are still many healthcare security vulnerabilities that can compromise patients’ data, such as:

  • Staff: Employees have easy access to patient files. While the majority won’t abuse this power, there’s no guarantee some won’t steal sensitive information. This type of information can be used in identity theft, but it can also be used to intimidate or even blackmail people.
  • Malware and Phishing Attempts: Sophisticated malware and phishing schemes that either plant harmful scripts on a computer or steal login credentials can compromise an entire system.
  • Vendors: Healthcare providers often work with vendors without assessing the accompanying risk. For example, if a hospital hires a cleaning company, its employees might gain access to computers.
  • Unsecured Mobile Devices: Healthcare facilities that allow mobile logins don’t always require the devices to meet security standards. This leaves their networks vulnerable to malware and hackers.
  • Online Medical Devices: The security of online medical devices is often lacking, making them easy targets for hackers.
  • Lost and Stolen Mobile Devices: Any mobile device used to access a facility’s network becomes a liability as soon as it is lost or stolen. Once it falls into the wrong hands, the user can easily access the network using old or stored login data.
  • Unrestricted Access to Computers: Computers that aren’t in restricted areas can easily be accessed by unauthorized personnel.
  • Inadequate Disposal of Old Hardware: Old terminals and other hardware used to store EHRs or credentials aren’t always disposed of correctly. Criminals can then recover data from this hardware and use it for their own ends.

How to Minimize Threats in Healthcare Computer Systems

Fortunately, it’s possible to minimize vulnerabilities in healthcare computer systems. This involves putting a robust cybersecurity system in place that covers the entire network, including cloud-based storage. All data should be encrypted so nothing can be accessed during transmission or when in storage.

System administrators should conduct regular audits, and there should be two-step authentication in place that requires anybody looking to adjust information or enter new data to verify their identity. All users should be required to create strong passwords and change them after a predetermined number of weeks.

In addition, healthcare providers should establish strict protocols regarding the use of mobile devices, as well as the disposal of hardware that has contained sensitive information in the past. Mobile device management (MDM) software allows your IT administrators to secure, control and enforce policies on tablets, smartphones and other devices, ensuring important policies aren’t broken and your data stays safe.

To learn more about security for healthcare, contact the team of experts at Consolidated Technologies, Inc.