How to effectively close the healthcare cybersecurity gaps

In 2021, healthcare providers are at risk of a data breach. But how do you effectively close the healthcare cybersecurity gaps and maintain compliance? The short answer is that it takes a proactive approach.

The healthcare sector is a sitting duck for cyberattacks. According to a Black Book Market Research study, as much as 73% of healthcare providers, hospitals, and physicians stated that their infrastructure wasn’t prepared to respond to an attack.

That’s a survey result estimate of 1500 healthcare providers vulnerable to data breaches of 500 or more records, representing a 300 % increase over 2020.

A whopping 96% of IT professionals also agreed that healthcare providers aren’t keeping pace with threat actors, presenting a lucrative scenario for hackers and cybercriminals worldwide.

If you’re wondering how things got so bad, you’re not alone. After some digging, it turns out that Black Book Market Research itself isn’t what it appears to be.

According to the folks at Bloomberg, the data published by Black Book Market Research was used by major corporations and medical-information technology businesses to secure lucrative contracts.

However, the company itself “lifts” large chunks of its reports from other suppliers or uses a crowd-sourcing methodology that’s common in review platforms like Yelp. So, it’s best to take it with a hefty grain of salt.

The above is solid evidence of the critical need to always be vigilant and thorough in the current threat landscape. Although things might not be as bad as they seem, they’re far from ideal.

How do you effectively close the healthcare cybersecurity gaps and maintain compliance? Let’s take a look.

1. Deploy multi-factor authentication

According to Microsoft, 99.9% of all automated attacks can be derailed by MFA. The tiny 0.1% represents the improbable successful and sophisticated attacks.

This approach helps security teams effectively respond to one of the most common issues that lead to data breaches—password reuse. Here’s a very REAL statistic—as much as 73% of users duplicate passwords in their personal and work accounts.

In this scenario, all it takes is one data breach to have a domino effect. The rise of remote working and telehealth only makes this problem much worse. To mitigate risk, always insist on MFA. 

2. Engage an ethical hacker

Healthcare providers often adopt bring-your-own-device initiatives and more. They also lack visibility into how many devices are connected to the network at any given time and often depend on unpatched legacy technologies.

Hackers relentlessly look for such vulnerabilities to exploit. As such, it’ll help to engage one of the good guys (like a whitehat ethical hacker) to identify and rectify weaknesses in the system before a cybercriminal finds them.

3. Invest in recurring training

As humans remain the weakest link, you have to keep reminding them of cybersecurity best practices. This approach will also help keep them alert to social engineering campaigns and suspicious activity on the network.

One of the best ways to do this is to send simulated phishing emails to a group of employees. Whenever they take the bait, you can target them with educational material and drive home the importance of always following security best practices.

4. Encrypt everything

As the healthcare sector handles the most sensitive data and is highly regulated, we can’t afford to leave anything to chance. In this scenario, it’s best to leverage cutting-edge encryption tools as your last line of defense.

Why is encryption important?

Encryption plays a vital role in securing data because it makes it meaningless to hackers who don’t have the related decryption keys. In this scenario, it works more like an insurance policy in the event of a data breach.

For example, if you have the unfortunate experience of falling victim to a data breach, your regulatory fine may be reduced as the stolen data was rendered useless.

While continuously ensuring robust security is a challenge, it’s not impossible. With some effort and a continuous approach to cybersecurity, healthcare providers can mitigate risk and ensure compliance.

If you need help securing your healthcare IT infrastructure, reach out to one of our in-house experts, or schedule a demonstration.

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