Improving data security and privacy for healthcare providers

According to a PwC Australia survey, 64% of people “said they would consider changing [essential service] providers if they were impacted by a cyber attack that affected their essential service”. And in an industry where large amounts of sensitive data are stored and processed daily, it is vital that the healthcare industry and its providers (such as pharmacies) invest in their data privacy and data security efforts.

In this digital age, healthcare providers must take proactive steps to safeguard sensitive information and mitigate the risks of cyber-attacks. This article will go over the cyber security solutions that the healthcare industry can implement to improve data security and privacy, and ultimately build stronger relationships with patients.

What are data security and privacy?

Data security and privacy are two critical aspects of information technology (IT) that ensure the protection, integrity, and confidentiality of sensitive data.

Data security refers to the measures, technologies, and practices designed to safeguard data from unauthorised access, theft, modification, or destruction. It can involve the use of encryption, firewalls, and other security mechanisms to prevent cyber threats, such as data breaches and malware. Data security is essential for organisations that handle sensitive data (including personal information), as data loss can lead to reputational damage and less business.

While it is commonly used in place of data security, data privacy is slightly different. Data privacy refers to the right of individuals to dictate how their personal information is gathered, stored, and used. It is about building and maintaining trust, loyalty, and confidence in a company to its customers by providing them with more power over how their personal data is leveraged and stored.

Why are data security and privacy important for health professionals?

Data security and privacy are crucial aspects that every healthcare professional must prioritise. The healthcare industry and its providers deal with sensitive and confidential information of patients – medical history and personal details – on a regular basis.

It is not a secret that threat actors have targeted Australia’s healthcare industry before. And with advancements in medical equipment and the increasing digitisation of society, they are sure to continue.  

Therefore, protecting this information from unauthorised access, theft, or misuse is critical to ensuring that data is safe and that compliance is upheld.

How can the healthcare industry improve data privacy and security?

By protecting data and their IT infrastructure, healthcare providers will be able to develop their services to make them more relevant in the face of an unpredictable field. There are various cyber security services and solutions companies can use to enhance data security and data privacy. 

Taking the time to successfully implement all of them can help medical businesses better prepare for digital attacks with a cohesive cyber security environment. 

1. Security awareness training

Like any business in any industry, health systems are vulnerable to insider threats – cyber security risks that come from within an organisation and are carried out by employees. While internal threats can be performed both willingly or unknowingly, the ramifications of such actions can be severe for all groups involved.

To mitigate this risk, all institutions within the healthcare industry should invest in security awareness training. These sessions are designed to educate staff on the dangers of cybercrime, along with providing them with the expertise they need to identify threats, respond to them, and create habits that can be used to reduce them.

For healthcare providers, security awareness training may cover:

2. Access control policies

Controlling who and what can access company applications and data is vital to ensuring the safety of data. Access control solutions provide companies with the means to restrict what parties are allowed to view specific sets of data, along with limiting the accessibility of software programs. In other words, it enables a ‘need-to-know’ mindset within an organisation’s IT network to make it more difficult for unauthorised individuals to enter a company’s digital spaces. An example of access control would be zero-trust network access.

3. Analyse IT systems for weaknesses

Risk assessments are thorough examinations of a company’s network to can pinpoint security weaknesses and potential risks. They can also extend beyond IT infrastructures to cover gaps in staff knowledge concerning cyber security, the safety measures a business partner deploys, and more. Assessments should be performed according to a consistent schedule to allow businesses to fix any issues before they grow. 

During a risk assessment, companies in the healthcare industry should:

Reliable, cost-effective cyber security services and tools for the healthcare industry

The information that medical companies store can improve the health of patients and society as a whole. Threat actors understand the value of this information, and will try anything to undermine your data security and privacy measures. 

The cyber security experts at Muscatech are experienced in helping organisations within the healthcare industry administer innovative security solutions to safeguard patient data. From incident response strategies to encryption, the Muscatech team can help you upgrade your security operations and secure your healthcare company’s information for greater compliance and a shining reputation. 

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