Cybersecurity as a Form of Digital Protection
How it works
Cybersecurity is an ever-growing form of digital protection, created and used for the sole purpose of protecting confidential information against hard drive malfunctions, power outages, and adversaries. In healthcare, it is crucial for hospitals and health providers to keep up with the security of digital health data through cybersecurity in order to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and avoid potentially devastating consequences. Insider threats, access control breaches, and network breaches are some of the main cyber threats in the health care industry, besides malware.
Despite these threats, medical facilities are not completely vulnerable to these types of attacks and have options in regard to keeping patient information confidential.
With the switch from paper records to electronic records, hospitals and other medical facilities are more susceptible to cyber-attacks due to the lack of security and protection of the collected digital health data. Ever since this evolution from paper to electronic records, ensuring patient confidentiality has proven to be very difficult and a major issue for many medical establishments. In May of 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack was a major wake-up call for health organizations across the world and gave these organizations ideas on what should be done in relation to cybersecurity. Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts you from using your computer and/or accessing certain files unless you pay a ransom fee. However, malware is not the only threat medical institutions have to worry about, as cyberattacks come in many forms.
Insider threats, which involve employees or third parties and consist of these individuals intentionally or unintentionally damaging a system or stealing data, is one of three main threats to which health facilities are prone. Another threat medical establishments are susceptible to would be access control breaches, otherwise known as physical thefts, which involve the manipulation of control systems in hopes of gaining unauthorized access to information. Lastly, network breaches are composed of outside adversaries gaining unauthorized access and the ability to manipulate admissible programs or install malicious ones. Although the aforementioned threats have contributed to the setbacks of health establishments around the world, these facilities continue to persist and work on ways to enhance their use of cybersecurity.
In order for medical facilities to protect themselves from cyber-attacks, they must first recognize the areas that are prone to risk. After this is done, they can implement simple changes such as having staff frequently change their passwords or having automatic systems that log out of computers after a certain period of inactivity. Educating individuals who use computers or any form of machinery to document patient data is another protective measure hospitals and clinical offices can undertake. Many individuals do not realize that visiting websites, opening email attachments, or even following unsolicited web links attached in emails can put the computers at risk for data breaches and other types of cyber-attacks. Other basic forms of protection would comprise identification and authentication, which require a user ID and password; security patch management, which necessitates that software is consistently updated to safeguard application systems; ensuring that used software have a current license; and using a circuit-level gateway, which protects the security of the private network by blocking the exposure of confidential information. If health facilities take the initiative to educate themselves about the means of cybersecurity, then a future of promise and security lies ahead.