Healthcare providers are required to maintain extensive security measures and have an effective security posture in place to protect their patients’ sensitive information. It’s crucial to comply with HIPAA regulations at all times and prevent data breaches that could bankrupt their practice.
In 2021, the average data breach cost companies $4.24 million. Because sales of patient data are so lucrative, hackers will target healthcare providers of all sizes to find a security weakness to access your network’s information.
Healthcare companies trying to cut back on their IT budget can’t afford to skimp on their overall security budget. However, a security posture assessment is more than accounting for your organization’s security controls.
Security Posture Definition
What is security posture?
Your organization’s security posture is a combination of risk management and incident response in case of a data breach. Security postures will also help you understand the impact of all your security risks so you can actively work to minimize damages.
An example security posture should include measures of:
- Inventory of your assets and data visibility
- Vulnerability management planning and updates
- Ongoing evaluation of security controls
- Cyber threat detection and containment
- Data backups and disaster recovery plans
Evaluating security programs is an ongoing process. Hackers are constantly updating their attack vectors and exploiting new vulnerabilities. So what can your practice do to improve its security posture?
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Critical Steps to Strengthen Your Security Posture
1. Map Your Assets
The first step for a security risk assessment is to take stock of all the systems on which you store patient records and other sensitive data, and which devices have access to it. This can include mobile phones, laptops, tablets, security cameras, printers, and third-party vendors with access.
As you continue to add endpoints, you should update your inventory and ensure you have a cohesive strategy for how to keep it secure. The best practice is to limit access to data solely to employees that need it and segment the data to minimize the risk of a breach.
2. Update your Software
Support teams routinely add new security patches and fix bugs with every update. While it may seem simple enough, most IT departments leave device management up to the users.
Many employees skip updates, either because they feel it’s inconvenient, or because they aren’t aware of the risks associated with outdated software and operating systems. Companies that provide employees with devices can push updates automatically across all devices remotely with the right software solutions.
3. Train your Employees
Employee mistakes are one of the leading causes of data breaches. They may fall prey to a phishing scheme, install unapproved software, or even connect to an unsecured network on their device.
A security awareness program can help your team stay up to date on the best practices to avoid ransomware attacks and phishing schemes, and take measures to ensure data security on their devices.
4. Outline Your BYOD Policies
With the rise of remote work and telehealth across the industry, it’s crucial that your employees understand the risks of letting them use their own devices to access EHR and medical data. Unsecured connections, stolen devices, and third-party apps risk data breaches that can expose sensitive patient data.
Companies that provide employee devices still need to communicate the risks of connecting personal phones or laptops, even for something as simple as sending an email. Employee devices offer attackers a new vector that your risk assessment hasn’t addressed.
5. Automate your Security Management
Bots can help your security team identify and resolve potential risks in real-time. This can reduce the lag between an alert and a fix and allow you to focus on big-picture information security issues.
AI and machine learning tools offer a software solution to minimize your cybersecurity risks and reduce the cost of a data breach by $3+ million. They can also help you save money on full-time employees.
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6. Craft a Response Plan
If all your efforts are focused on preventing attacks, you may not be prepared to respond to them when the time comes. Your plan should thoroughly outline each step to mitigate the impact of the breach and make it clear who is responsible for carrying them out. Your team can run drills to keep the plan fresh and ensure they are ready in the event you face a breach.
7. Outsource Your IT and Cybersecurity to Qualified Experts
Many healthcare companies lack the resources to implement the necessary security measures. Hiring IT employees with the proper security credentials is difficult and costly, but you don’t need an in-house team to secure your patient information.
True North offers over 40 years of experience providing IT solutions for healthcare providers of all sizes. We can help you implement the best technology for your practice so you can spend more time worrying about patients and less time troubleshooting your devices.
Our team can offer unlimited issue response and 24/7 support to monitor your network. Reach out to us today and find out how we can help organizations like yours stay secure.