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Healthcare data breaches are all too common. In fact, they account for almost 26% of all data breaches globally.
This is a problem that healthcare organizations need to address if we want to keep our patients’ data safe.
In another report by Protenus, healthcare data breaches have increased by 44% in 2022!
In this article, we will discuss the 9 best ways to prevent healthcare data breaches from happening in the first place.
Implementing these practices will help keep your patients’ data safe and secure!
Read on for more information:
How to Prevent Healthcare Data Breaches?
1. Educate Employees
Make sure that all healthcare organizations’ employees are properly trained on how to handle sensitive information.
This includes understanding how to encrypt patient data, how to spot a phishing email, and what to do if they suspect that a breach has occurred.
You should also have policies in place for how to handle sensitive information, and make sure that everyone is aware of them. These policies should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed.
If you have employees who work remotely, make sure they understand the importance of keeping their work environment secure.
This includes ensuring that their home network is properly protected and that they don’t share passwords with anyone.
This can be done through a proprietary VPN or done in a virtual environment that is secure.
By educating your employees and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity, you can help prevent a healthcare data breach from happening in the first place.
2. Control Access to Healthcare Data
It’s important to control who has access to sensitive healthcare patient data. This includes both physical and electronic access.
Physical access should be restricted to authorized personnel only, and all visitors should be properly screened. Electronic access should be protected by strong passwords and two-factor authentication whenever possible.
You should also have a process in place for how patient data is accessed and used. This includes who can access it, how it can be used, and how long it can be stored.
All of this should be clearly documented and communicated to all employees. By controlling access to healthcare data, you can help prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to it.
In addition, you should also have a process in place for how patient data is disposed of when it is no longer needed. This includes ensuring that all electronic files are properly wiped and that all physical documents are shredded.
By controlling access to healthcare data and properly disposing of it when it is no longer needed, you can help prevent a healthcare data breach from happening.
3. Use Encryption and Password Protection
Lots of data breaches happen by brute force and enumerating passwords.
Some hackers run through a list of passwords, hoping to chance upon weak passwords from users.
Data security not only lies with weak passwords but healthcare providers also need to remember to set a password to uphold data security within a healthcare organization.
Whenever possible, you should encrypt healthcare data. This includes both in transit and at rest.
In transit means that data should be encrypted when it is being sent from one location to another. This can be done through the use of a VPN or other encryption methods.
At rest means that data should be encrypted when it is stored. This can be done by using encryption software or by storing data in an encrypted format.
In addition to encryption, you should also use password protection whenever possible. This includes using strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
By encrypting healthcare data and using password protection, you can help prevent a healthcare data breach from happening.
All employees should be mandated to change their passwords every 3 months, to reduce the chance of any brute-force hacking incidents.
These techniques can prevent data breaches if standard operating procedures are deployed across a healthcare organization.
4. Backup and Store Data Securely
You should regularly back up healthcare data. This includes both on-site and off-site backups.
On-site backups are copies of data that are stored locally. Off-site backups are copies of data that are stored in a different location, such as in the cloud.
You should also store backups in a secure location, such as in a locked cabinet or safe. In addition, you should encrypt backups to further protect them.
By backing up and storing data securely, you can help prevent a healthcare data breach from happening.
In the event of a breach, having backups will allow you to quickly restore any lost data.
In addition, by encrypting backups, you can help ensure that they cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals.
By backing up and storing data securely, you can help prevent a healthcare data breach from happening and ensure that you can quickly restore any lost data.
5. Use Anti-virus Software and Firewalls
You should install and use anti-virus software on all devices that are used to access healthcare data. This includes both computers and mobile devices.
In addition, you should also install and use firewalls on all networked devices. This includes routers, switches, and servers.
By using anti-virus software and firewalls, you can help prevent a data breach from happening.
You should also keep all software and firmware up to date. This includes both anti-virus software and firewalls.
6. Restrict Email Access
You should restrict email access to healthcare data. This means that only authorized individuals should be able to access and use email accounts that are used to store or send healthcare data.
All emails should be encrypted if they contain healthcare data. This can be done through the use of a VPN or other encryption methods.
By restricting email access and encrypting emails, you can help prevent healthcare data breaches from happening.
You should also be aware of phishing scams. These are email messages that appear to be from a legitimate source but are actually from an unauthorized individual.
By being aware of phishing scams and taking steps to prevent them, you can help prevent a data breach.
Phishing scams can be prevented by using spam filters and only opening emails from trusted sources.
By restricting email access, encrypting emails, and being aware of phishing scams, there will be fewer chances of a password leak or for hackers to gain access to the system undetected.
7. Monitor Network Usage
Monitoring network usage is one of the ways that we can prevent data breaches in the healthcare industry.
This is done by monitoring all devices that are used to access healthcare data. This includes both computers and mobile devices.
If a device of an employee has been compromised, these monitoring efforts will help catch the anomalies like high usage and downloads at non-work timings.
In addition, you should also monitor network usage for all devices that are connected to the network. This includes routers, switches, and servers.
You should also be aware of unusual or suspicious activity. This includes both network traffic and device activity.
By being aware of unusual or suspicious activity, you can help prevent healthcare data breaches from happening.
Unusual or suspicious activity can be reported to the IT department so that they can investigate the issue further.
While these seem relatively rudimentary, these practices go a long way in preventing a data breach.
8. Perform Regular Security Checks
You should perform regular security checks on all devices that are used to access healthcare data. This includes both computers and mobile devices.
Perform checks on devices that are connected to the network. This includes routers, switches, and servers.
Security checks can include both physical and logical checks.
Physical checks involve looking for any physical signs of tampering. Logical checks involve running tests to ensure that the devices are functioning properly and that there are no security vulnerabilities.
By performing regular security checks, essentially, you will be losing the chance of data breaches happening.
9. Stay Informed
You should stay informed about the latest security threats. This includes both online and offline threats.
You can stay informed by reading security blogs, attending security conferences, and taking courses on healthcare data security.
By staying informed, you can help prevent healthcare data breaches from happening.
Alternatively, you could also employ a security company to handle the security threats and manage security threats before they become too big to handle.
Due to the sensitive data of the healthcare industry, leaders must take extra care to keep abreast of the latest cybersecurity developments and take action against vulnerabilities.
By following these best practices, you can help prevent healthcare data breaches from happening.
Healthcare data breaches are becoming more common as the world becomes more digitized.
By taking steps to prevent them, you can help ensure the data security of your patients’ information.
Have you thought about your current practices to prevent healthcare data breaches?
I hope this article has brought about some inspiration for you to get started on the prevention of patient data breaches in your healthcare organizations.
Justin is the founder and author of Justjooz. He is a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumni and a former data analyst.
Now, Justin runs the Justjooz blog full-time, hoping to share his deep knowledge of business, tech, web3, and analytics with others.
To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.