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Cybersecurity in Healthcare: The Skills Your Team Needs to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Healthcare data is a highly attractive target for cyberattacks. Recent global statistics demonstrate the continuous threats to healthcare data security, with an increase in the number of reported data breaches in the industry.



In 2022, there were over 700 reported healthcare data breaches, impacting 51.9 million records globally. Healthcare data breaches can result in devastating consequences such as identity theft, fraud, and patient safety risks, particularly concerning in the context of the covid-19 pandemic.

The implications of such breaches are severe, encompassing identity theft, fraud, patient safety risks, financial losses, and regulatory fines for both patients and healthcare organizations. Consequently, it is crucial for healthcare organizations to establish proficient teams capable of safeguarding patient data from cyber threats.


The Lack of IT Security Skills Poses Major Threats to Healthcare

The lack of IT security skills among healthcare employees is a major contributing factor to these breaches. According to an IONOS Cloud study, 40% of employees do not have cybersecurity expertise or knowledge of data protection. This lack of knowledge can lead to employees making mistakes that put patient data at risk, such as clicking on phishing links, opening malicious attachments, or using weak passwords. Therefore, it is essential for healthcare organizations to invest in training their employees in cybersecurity best practices.


By mastering the four modern skills discussed in this article, healthcare teams can help protect patient data from cyber threats.


Regulatory Compliance Awareness

Healthcare organizations operate within a complex regulatory landscape that mandates the protection of patient data. Key regulations that healthcare teams must be well-versed in include:

  1. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act): HIPAA sets stringent standards for safeguarding patient health information, ensuring its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It covers a wide range of requirements, including administrative, physical, and technical safeguards that healthcare organizations must implement to protect patient data.

  2. HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act): HITECH expands upon HIPAA's requirements, specifically focusing on the protection of electronic health information. It emphasizes the use of secure technology and the implementation of appropriate safeguards. HITECH also introduces breach notification requirements and penalties for non-compliance.

  3. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation): Although primarily applicable in the European Union, GDPR plays a significant role in protecting personal data, including health information. It imposes strict requirements on the processing, storage, and transfer of personal data. GDPR emphasizes transparency, consent, and the rights of individuals regarding their data.


Cloud data protection expertise

More and more healthcare data is being stored in the cloud. This means that healthcare teams need to have the skills to protect data in the cloud. This includes understanding the security features of cloud providers, as well as the risks associated with storing data in the cloud.

When choosing a cloud provider, healthcare organizations should consider the following factors:

  • Security features: The cloud provider should have a strong security posture, including features such as encryption, access control, and intrusion detection.

  • Compliance: The cloud provider should be compliant with the relevant regulations, such as HIPAA and HITECH.

  • Reputation: The cloud provider should have a good reputation for security and reliability.

Data breach response and mitigation tactics:

Even the best security measures can fail. When a data breach does occur, it's important for healthcare organizations to have a plan in place to respond to the breach and mitigate the damage. This plan should include steps to:

  • Notify affected patients: Healthcare organizations are required to notify affected patients of a data breach. This notification should be timely and accurate.

  • Investigate the breach: Healthcare organizations should investigate the data breach to determine the cause and scope of the breach.

  • Take steps to prevent future breaches: Healthcare organizations should take steps to prevent future data breaches, such as implementing additional security controls and training employees on security best practices.

Asset management proficiency

Healthcare organizations need to have a good understanding of their IT assets. This includes knowing what assets they have, where they are located, and who has access to them. This information can be used to identify potential security risks and to implement appropriate security controls.


Healthcare organizations should regularly inventory their IT assets and assess the risks associated with each asset. They should also implement security controls to mitigate the risks associated with their assets.


Conclusion

Healthcare data is a valuable target for cyberattacks. By mastering the four modern skills discussed in this article, healthcare teams can help protect patient data from cyber threats. By following these best practices, healthcare organizations can help to ensure that they are compliant with the relevant regulations and that they are prepared to respond to a data breach.

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