You thought that the most challenging thing you’d face as a healthcare professional would be treating your patients. After all, that’s why you practice medicine. But before you can diagnose and treat your patients, you have to make sure that you have the infrastructure in place to protect their personal information and the internet-enabled equipment in your office.
With more devices connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT) and more patient records residing online, cyber hacks are on the rise. Is your practice doing everything it can to prevent a cyberattack? Besides having insurance for medical professionals, here are three basic best practices to help ramp up your facility’s safety and security.
Back to the Basics: Authentication
You have to walk before you can run. Fancy security measures mean little if your authentication habits leave you vulnerable. Something as simple as a weak password can be a hacker’s ticket into your records. A strong password should be at least eight characters long and contain a healthy mix of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service.
You’ll also need up-to-date anti-virus software running to destroy malicious intruders—don’t put off that update until tomorrow or even after lunch—as well as a firewall to keep intruders at bay.
Firmware is Your Friend
Like we mentioned earlier, the IoT interconnects medical devices that previously would have been freestanding. While it’s convenient and efficient, it also leaves them open to a possible cyber-attack. As Tech Republic writes, “For instance, digital insulin pumps can be easily infiltrated and manipulated by hackers.” In 2013, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that 300 different medical devices from 40 vendors had firmware-related software vulnerabilities, meaning that anyone who could crack the password could control the machines.
While cyber insurance can help in the aftermath, you want to prevent a costly (and dangerous) security breach before it happens for the good of your patients and your practice. That’s why it’s an important habit to keep your devices up to date on firmware (software embedded in hardware) and make sure that your machines’ firmware uses binary protection so intruders can’t dismantle it.
Assess and Eliminate Security Risks
Part of your daily routine should simply be developing technology best practices and enforcing them. Any employee who fails to adhere to security standards is a potential weak spot. Is your team trained in how to avoid email phishing scams? Are mobile devices encrypted? Does each staff member have access to patient records on a “need to know” basis? When team members leave, are they taking valuable log-in information with them? Conducting a security risk analysis is the only way to find your vulnerable spots before a hacker does.
Cyber security is a staple in modern medical practices. Your organization, no matter how big or small, depends on solid preventative security habits like these in combination with broader business insurance for medical professionals. Find a backup plan that fits with CoverHound!