By BRIAN AWSUMB
Running a medical practice involves many time-consuming and strenuous considerations, from achieving quality patient care to facilitating a culture of qualified and working professionals.
With that said, sometimes the most basic threats can go undetected. Typically, these are security issues. While healthcare institutions have been safe from the security threats of other industries, such as armed robberies, for over a millennia, they still fall victim to attempts of cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks are both elusive and catastrophic. Once a hacker accesses a small portion of your network, it is often too late to prevent widespread data theft and ransom. To prevent this outcome, it is important to make sure all of your data is safeguarded, even among your own staff.
If a majority of your team has access to all of your business’ information, then it could open the door for a potential cyberattack if this data is misplaced.
Sensitive Data is Lucrative
On August 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) into law. This mandated all medical facilities and healthcare institutions to reduce unauthorized access and distribution of patient medical records.
This law acknowledged that medical facilities have sensitive data that shouldn’t be placed in the wrong hands. People unknowingly provide intimate details, such as their social security numbers, addresses, and even income statements to receive healthcare services.
Therefore, healthcare organizations were required by law to safeguard this information, usually on a secure network instead of the old-fashioned file cabinet system. Organizations who knowingly distribute these records to unauthorized individuals or sell them to third parties can be penalized by the U.S. government.
This created a precedent that patient medical records are absolutely sacred. On top of that, medical facilities began acting with utmost discretion of protecting their own business data from outsiders and even staff that would have no business viewing important records.
These records, if exposed, could net a significant profit to cyberterrorists, hackers, and unscrupulous third-party organizations.
The Dangers of Highly Accessible Business Data
At first glance, it may seem harmless to grant access to important business data, such as details on net profit and how much you and your colleagues earn. After all, when you hire someone, you expect to maintain a high degree of trust.
Being naive to the fact that staff can leak data, either willingly or involuntarily, can hurt your practice. According to Security Magazine, stressed employees caused 40 percent of data breaches in the United States.
To make matters worse, 53 percent of all companies shared more than 1,000 sensitive files with every employee. Both of these statistics paint a very grim picture. A recently fired or unsatisfied employee that should not have access to sensitive files in the first place can post a security issue.
On the other hand, employees that also should not have access to sensitive files can accidentally misplace them or allow cyberterrorists easy access to them. Case in point — if an employee stores important business data on their computer and opens a solicited phishing email, a hacker can steal access to their computer files.
This outcome can place your practice in critical danger, especially if important financial information was leaked. Putting sensitive files in the hands of authorized personnel and creating guidelines of its usage and distribution can eliminate this troublesome threat.
Obtaining High Level Cybersecurity
HIPAA has established a precedent, in which healthcare organizations can be held legally responsible for any data breaches that were caused by negligence. In other words, if you do not perform your due diligence in protecting your business’ important information, you could be federally penalized.
For this reason, obtaining high-level cybersecurity insurance is essential. In addition, medical facilities should enact rigid cybersecurity protocols, such as implement a multiple step authorization process (passwords, pins, etc) in order to access crucial business data.
This also shines a mirror on healthcare organizations that are in violation of HIPAA today. Facilities that are still operating with paper files and cabinets can have their information easily accessed by anyone.
Storing essential data on a network is much more secure than a locked door or file cabinet. Cyberattacks are nothing new, and it’s up to medical facilities to protect their own interests and the data of innocent men and women.
Safeguard All Important Business Data
The threat of cyberattacks are real and present. In accordance with federal law and common sense, you should make sure that all of your business data and patient records are duly protected.
Fortunately, this can be as easy as restricting access to unauthorized individuals.
Brian Awsumb is the founder of AwsumbTech, a local, veteran-owned managed service provider specializing in small and medium-sized businesses, taking a proactive approach to IT, meaning that all assets on your network are monitored and maintained 24/7 to catch issues before they impact business operations. Visit https://awsumbtech.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org