Five Steps to Upgrade Your Healthcare Network Security

By Joe Gillis, VP of Sales, GVC - 26 Jul, 2018
Physical Security

Last year was a record year for the healthcare industry and cybersecurity. Attacks against patient records are common, and hit an all-time high. According to a recent Ponemon Institute report, this industry accounted for more than 23% of the data breaches in 2017.

Is there a way to lessen the blow? Is there a better way to protect your healthcare organization from cyber attackers? Upgrading your healthcare network security on a regular basis is an important measure to take in protecting your patients’ personal and medical records.

Let’s look at five steps you can take to improve the health your network security today.

1. Improve Employee Security Training

When it comes to data breaches, it isn’t always a cyber attacker’s fault. In fact, studies have shown that 65% of respondents have experienced a cyber attack because of employee negligence or a malicious insider. Unfortunately, without the proper employee security training and awareness, these issues will continue to slip through our fingers.

As a healthcare organization, you should take the responsibility of implementing new security training periodically for your employees. You should also communicate with employees about the importance of security measures.

For example, passwords should be kept secret and difficult to identify when used with electronic health records. You can send periodic emails regarding security updates and also require your employees to take and pass a security course each quarter. Whatever you do, make sure training is up to date and available for all employees, current and new.

2. Increase Medical Device Security

With technology increasing daily, more and more devices are finding their way into our networks, especially within the healthcare industry. New medical devices such as wearable devices, telemedical devices and mobile applications are being used in innovative ways within healthcare facilities. However, this poses a problem for security when devices are not maintained and used properly.

The FDA has set aside security measures that should be considered by medical device manufacturers to protect them from unauthorized access. Some of these measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Using encryption wherever appropriate to ensure data is transferred securely to and from the medical device.
  • Functionalities built-in that allow data analysts to find, log and act on any security breaches when they occur.
  • Appropriate action information and communication for end users if a cybersecurity event occurs.

Beyond these requirements, you should be able to properly train your employees on the current usage of the medical devices and run diagnostics often. Keep medical devices updated at all times to ensure security holes are patched and secure.

3. Improve Incident Response Programs

Do you have a thorough incident response program? If so, has it been tested and tried lately? If not, you may find yourself stuck with an outdated incident response strategy during a healthcare network security breach.

You should create an incident response program that defines each team within your organization’s roles and the complete lifecycle of the plan from detection to business as usual. Who is in charge of what? How long will each step take? What does the entire process look like? Answering these questions will reduce downtime and the damages that a security breach can collect quickly.

Once a plan is created, it should be tested and often. Your team will fluctuate as new employees are added and some leave. Each new piece of technology will need to fit within your plan. Set aside time throughout the year to perform a test run of your incident response plan so you are prepared for the unknown.

4. Update Cybersecurity Protections

Make room in your budget as more tools are added that are crucial to the IT infrastructure and ensure these tools are updated as often as possible. Outdated software and other tools that worked in the past won’t stand the test of time when it comes to smart cybercriminals. As our technology grows and expands, so do the minds of those who aim to steal our data. Make sure your cybersecurity protections are updated and poised for future growth.

5. Use Up to Date IT Infrastructure

Outdated tools and methods will leave your network susceptible to attacks and allow patient data to slide through the cracks. It is critical that your infrastructure security is kept up to date at all times. Sometimes, updates are meant to fix something that is broken or a hole that is found in the tool, software, application or other tech. Updating seals that hole, keeping your network and patient data safe.

By updating your current IT infrastructure to building an incident response plan and making room in your budget for groundbreaking security technology, you will be able to protect your patient’s critical data. Health organizations are still one of the most targeted organizations for cybercrime. Take your security into your own hands starting today.

Author: Joe Gillis, VP of Sales, GVC

Joe Gillis, a graduate of Loyola University, began his career with FTG Technologies, a New Era Technology company, in 2010 as an Account Executive. After proving his skills in team-building, client interaction, and developing strategic relationships, he was promoted to Sales Manager in 2012. Today, Joe continues to lead the sales team and serves as a member of the senior management team. When Joe isn’t leading the sales team he enjoys time with his young family and is an avid golfer. Prior to joining FTG, Joe worked for the PGA Tour within Tournament Operations.