How data security measures can help support healthcare IT compliance
Data is being increasingly used as a crucial component in almost all sectors. It has become a backbone and force behind the rapid growth of certain sectors. One such field is healthcare.
Data is being put to use in various ways. From diagnosis to the patient management system. Data allows doctors to have better look at patient medical history and also helps in organising hospital data. In the covid scenario, data is used to build models and predict the course of virus, vaccine, oxygen, medicine etc. Data has turned out to be a lifesaver. Health records were kept in thick folders, and now patients can access their medical histories and test results via online portals.
Healthcare data is personal data. People are sensitive about sharing such intricate details without confidentiality clauses. If such data is hacked or breached and sold to third parties these can have serious implications. This data can be used to target people for selling insurance at high premiums, or used by healthcare companies to earn supernatural profit.
Hence, it becomes crucial for Healthcare firms to effectively practice Data Security.
Data security is the practice of protecting digital information from unauthorized access. It encompasses all the aspects of information security.
Data security strategies can protect an organization’s data against cybercriminal activities, provided that it is implemented successfully. Data security involves deploying tools and technologies.
As the healthcare industry evolves with new technology, the security threat to our most personal data is also changing.
In this blog, we will learn about the biggest security challenges to health care data and what steps can be taken to mitigate them.
Biggest healthcare data security challenges in the new digital age:
- Health information exchanges and electronic health records.
Healthcare providers are encouraged to use electronic health records for their patients and health information exchanges to assist doctors in sharing patient data. A network that allows such data to be shared becomes a target for cybercriminals. Previously, accessing a person's medical history required flipping through physical files; now, all you need is some hacking know-how.
- User error.
Another healthcare data security risk posed by simple patient-user error. Your medical privacy is in your hands. If you store your data in unencrypted cloud folders or send your results via email, you can make it easy for a hacker to access your most personal information.
- The rise of “hacktivism”
Many hackers see hospital data as the easiest way of earning money. Since all of the data is personal it becomes crucial to secure them otherwise hackers might sell it on the dark web. This can lead to personal targeting of patients for commercial gains based on their health records.
- Outdated technology.
Running a hospital isn’t cheap, while prioritizing the latest technology or increasing staff, the IT budget can fall. Many times IT investment is treated as a one-time investment and they are not updated regularly. Due to this they miss crucial updates and hence fall prey to hackers. Although purchasing a brand new server can be tough on the budget, it’s easier than dealing with the repercussion of a data breach
- Increased Attack surface
The adoption of new devices that use wireless networks and sensors to collect and exchange data is a two-edged sword. While these devices provide tremendous capabilities to care for patients, each device increases an organization's attack surface.
Hence, securing patient healthcare data should be a top priority. The high price for patient records, combined with new and growing vulnerabilities, provide a great impetus for cybercriminals to attack
Data security measures to implement
By using an algorithm, conventional text characters can be converted to an unreadable format, scrambling data can be encrypted to be read by only authorised individuals. File and database encryption systems are used by tokenization as the ultimate line of security for sensitive volumes.
The software of health care organisations should provide data encryption capacities to avoid the alteration, destruction or benefit of sensitive information by unauthorised parties.
Automation of Data discovery and classification
In structured and unstructured data repositories, such as database and cloud environments, sensitive information may be stored. The process of identifying sensitive information, assessing and remedying vulnerabilities is automated by data discovery and classification solutions. These solutions facilitate the process of vulnerability detection and mitigation.
Key to any robust data security strategy is the maintenance of backup copies of all critical data. The physical and logical safeguards governing access to the primary databases and core system should be applied to all backups.
- Data security strategies
A good strategy for data security includes people, processes and technologies. The security of information is a priority in all areas of the hospital to establish appropriate controls and policies. This gives a clear vision while deploying the right toolset.
- Employee education
Training and teaching employees to recognise attacks by social engineering to the importance of good security and the hygiene of passwords transforms them into a "human firewall."
- Physical security of servers and user devices
No matter where your data are stored, you need to ensure that installations are protected from intruders and that fire control is adequate. Depending on your local environment and cloud platforms, a comprehensive suite of menace management, detection and response tools can reduce the risk of damage and physical injury.
- Data access control and user authentication
Restricting access to medical data based on user roles can help in ensuring the protection of patients’ personnel's data from unauthorised users. Among the access control measures for patients and medical personnel, various access rights can be used: access to the application for each user with full or limited rights to read, modify, and delete information, etc.
- Internal IT security audit
To ensure the security of medical IT infrastructure, and data, a healthcare organisation should regularly conduct risk assessments. After patches or new versions are released, all software should be updated to the most recent version as soon as possible.
- Transmission security
During transmission of data over an electronic communications network, it should remain inaccessible by third parties. To keep the data protected from third-party access, it should be transmitted using a secure protocol and over the secure network.
Data security in healthcare is a need of time, this cannot be treated as a luxury. As more and more hospitals are relying on tech-enabled solutions with data security they are falling into the hands of hackers. To provide a haven to your patients' highly personal data, it is important to invest in Cyber security.
Perennial is a Healthcare Software Development company. While building we make sure to comply with the points on the security that we preach. Alongside our able software developers, we have highly professional cyber security experts to look out for all the vulnerabilities and make sure Doctors can focus on healthcare without any tension.