In our previous blog about computer security solutions, we outlined how and why healthcare systems have become especially vulnerable to cyberattacks during the coronavirus outbreak. Increased demand for telehealth has created more opportunities for bad actors to access sensitive information, corrupt data, and lock out legitimate users using ransomware, bots, data breaches, and phishing. Ultimately, the race to update old systems has resulted in faster and safer care for patients while putting those very systems and their personal information at risk. And cybercriminals are taking advantage.
These risks were there long before the first coronavirus cases were diagnosed, and they will not disappear once the pandemic is over. In fact, the distribution of vaccines will only exacerbate the problem. Many of the advances we’ve made in healthcare technology, such as telehealth and wearable monitoring devices, will continue to be useful in the future. Major data breaches and ransomware attacks have shown us that protecting information systems must go hand in hand with protecting healthcare facilities and patients themselves.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at a more aspects of healthcare technology that have outpaced security measures and what computer security solutions we can put in place to keep these systems and their users safe and secure.
Digitizing Patient Records
The medical field has been one of the slowest industries to digitize basic records. Creating systems sophisticated enough to replicate the level of detail and ease of use paper files provided has been enough to prevent hospitals and doctor’s offices from making the switch. But the time and money it would take to accurately process decades of old files and turn them into digital ones has also held them back. Healthcare providers have faced these challenges for years and made slow but steady progress. However, partly due to social distancing guidelines and partly because of higher expectations from a tech-savvy society, demand for access to digital patient files can no longer be ignored.
There are a few reasons why this type of information is especially sensitive: in addition to identities and financial information that can be directly exploited, hackers can use medical records to create fraudulent medical charges. The permanent nature of medical records, as opposed to information like credit card numbers that can be deleted, edited and re-entered, also makes it especially difficult to protect.
Training staff on password safety and phishing awareness is a big part of keeping these records safe, but the addition of patient portals has put the onus back on administrators to protect these external access points in real-time.
Internet of Things
Until now, hospital equipment has faced the known risks of insecure, single-purpose, connected medical devices running on legacy software in a single facility. However, wearable devices such as heart-rate monitors, implantable defibrillators and insulin pumps are making their way into the outside world due to 5G networks and faster connectivity. New products are prioritizing ease of use over security and have very little capacity to be updated with additional protection, so continuous monitoring and comprehensive incident response plans are imperative.
Insecure IoT devices pose a unique threat to patients’ lives. Hacking into a pacemaker or an insulin pump can have catastrophic results in almost no time. Unfortunately, making these devices small enough to function the way they need to is a security barrier in itself: most existing solutions were designed for traditional hardware. Protecting devices as they cross networks is an unprecedented challenge that will require new and innovative solutions.
Computer Security Solutions
Securing complex systems including onsite equipment and patient records, client portals and external endpoints, as well as specialized IoT will require custom-built solutions and live monitoring. Outsourcing cybersecurity to IT firms with these capabilities is not only necessary from a practical standpoint, but it usually proves to be more cost-effective as well.
Staying ahead of today’s sophisticated cybercriminals requires managed web security and regular patching, which cannot be automated. IT professionals must understand normal behavior of IoT devices and receive notifications about new devices, offline devices, potential risks and threats to maintain a truly proactive security strategy. Regular risk analyses must also be conducted.
A Culture of Security
Staff need regular training and awareness to stay informed about the types of threats that exist, what they might look like and what individual employees can do to keep their systems, information and patients safe. As hardware and software are updated, their users must stay informed of any changes that will affect safe usage.
Segmentation and incident response workflows should be automated in order to identify, contain and remove threats as quickly as they break in. Organizing security information into a single dashboard will also help IT professionals identify threats much faster and act quickly to prevent further damage.
Get in touch with us today to discuss what kinds of solutions your organization needs to protect your systems, information and your patients.