You Do Not Want to Be On the Cybersecurity Wall of Shame

Healthcare data breaches have been on the rise over the past few years. Over the past few years, there have been over 833 data breaches with millions of records being affected. These data breaches have all been listed on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights Breach Portal, also known as ”The Wall of Shame”.  While some of these healthcare data breaches may not have received the same type of coverage as other major data breaches on a global scale, the type of information that was uncovered in the data breach makes them considerably more serious than most data breaches.

The number of healthcare data breaches involving 500 or more individuals continues to increase month by month. The average number of reported healthcare data breaches in the last couple of years equates to more than 1 data breach each day. According to the data, it seems the larger the hospital or healthcare facility, the greater the chance of a data breach. This can be due in part to smaller or lesser-known hospitals and healthcare facilities not receiving as much attention from malicious actors. While the conversations about the need for enhanced security have continued, the number of successful data breaches in the healthcare landscape is quite surprising.

Cybersecurity Wall of Shame

More Health Consumers Are Becoming Privacy-Sensitive

As more patients become aware of the dangers surrounding health security, they will become more privacy-sensitive as they search for healthcare providers and healthcare facilities. Data security should be a key asset for every healthcare organization. Patient data will always be viewed as a valuable target.

Healthcare organizations have to protect patient data with a comprehensive set of security tools, strategies, and policies. Malicious actors are utilizing advanced and sophisticated tools to go after as many patient records as possible. Through the use of their sophisticated tools, they are able to bypass basic IT security controls.

While the threat landscape surrounding the healthcare industry continues to change, this does not mean your healthcare organization is not able to implement the security protocols that are needed to create a solid defense. When you take a proactive approach to privacy and security, you can effectively defend your healthcare facility against attacks.

Is Your Healthcare Organization Prepared?

As unfortunate as it may be, data breaches are an unpreventable risk to hospitals and healthcare facilities operating with information technology. The financial repercussions associated with healthcare data breaches are also growing. After a data breach occurs, the costs that your organization has to associate with the data breach may take away from the resources that should be associated with patient care, in turn, negatively affecting efficiency and productivity.

When you take into account the myriad of cost factors, ranging from legal costs, the costs associated with a loss of brand equity, loss of patients due to concerns about your security, and low employee productivity, the consequences of data breaches in the healthcare industry are major. One small error can lead to losses totaling millions of dollars. Healthcare facilities have to do everything they can to protect not only their assets but the privacy of their patients who turn to them for care.

As the number of healthcare data breaches continues to track upward, patients are becoming more aware of the impact data breaches could have on the security of their Personal Health Information. The security of their Personal Health Information is already a key factor for many healthcare consumers, but the rise in cybercrime could see more consumers shifting their attention to providers they feel could provide a greater sense of security.

The digitization of healthcare data will continue to push privacy to the top of more people’s lists of things to consider in a healthcare provider. Healthcare providers have to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture because the lack of a strong cybersecurity defense can lead to continuous operational downtime and rising remediation costs.

When a healthcare facility becomes the victim of a data breach, the fall-out will be immediate because everyone who was potentially affected will need to be notified. If the data breach is not a major breach, and there aren’t many patients affected, healthcare staff may be able to handle addressing all the patients who want information about the breach and how they could potentially be affected.

However, if the data breach was major and 500 or more individuals were affected, it will become increasingly difficult to talk to all the concerned patients about their patient records and what information was possibly exposed. This is not something that many healthcare organizations can handle because they lack the services and tools that are needed to address the concerns. Many healthcare organizations do not plan or prepare for a data breach, resulting in the lack of resources immediately after the breach.

Protect Your Healthcare Facility’s Security Landscape

Controls that are implemented to keep hackers from getting into your security landscape are great, but data breaches can occur regardless of how great your security controls are. Healthcare organizations need to be able to monitor all assets so that if malicious actors do get in, the bleeding can be stopped before it gets out of control. A response process plan will equip your healthcare facility with the resources to limit as much damage as possible.

With an incident response plan, healthcare organizations will already have the proper measures in place when a breach does occur. Acting in a timely and efficient manner to limit the damage can reduce the impact of a healthcare data breach, send notifications to patients and the proper authorities, and ensure that the healthcare organization is complying with regulatory requirements.

One internal mistake in a healthcare organization can lead to a massive data breach that could result in a massive lawsuit. In healthcare organizations, there is always a risk that Personal Health Information and other sensitive data will be mishandled. Healthcare staff should be well-informed on compliance and regulation laws, such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability). Healthcare staff should also have a thorough knowledge of patient privacy,  password management, incident response, data security, email security, and more.

When changes are made to policies and strategies, your employee training and education classes should reflect the changes. Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of a few people within the healthcare organization, it should be everyone’s responsibility. Data breaches continue to threaten healthcare facilities. Have you evaluated the risks of data breaches in your healthcare organization?

Are you prepared to enhance your security landscape and make it harder for malicious actors to get in? Contact Mathe Inc. for more information.

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