Data security is an ongoing concern for healthcare practices tasked with ensuring patient privacy. In 2019, some clear trends emerged, providing healthcare organizations with a blueprint for where to focus their efforts in the coming years.
A Secure Infrastructure is Key
The primary goal for healthcare organizations is to ensure their information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure is secure. This has become increasingly difficult with the widespread use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which many healthcare professionals depend on for their jobs. Problems aren’t confined to mobile devices; with an ever-growing number of connected devices, including medical equipment, there is a growing threat of weak or improper security.
Experts have identified five potential security threats that healthcare organizations will face in the coming years.
- Cloud Security. With more confidential data being moved to cloud-based storage, the risk of a breach increases. IT professionals must be diligent in monitoring traffic and data to and from the cloud—a huge burden given the volume of information moving back and forth.
- Unsecured Mobile Devices. The ubiquitousness of mobile devices is both beneficial and problematic. It allows healthcare staff to perform their jobs more efficiently and accurately, but at the same time, access to a variety of systems opens the door to potential security threats. Experts urge the adoption of additional authentication procedures, a trend already evident in fingerprint and facial recognition software.
- Ransomware. Ransomware is malicious software designed to prevent access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Phishing schemes that trick people into connecting to private networks represent a major security threat for healthcare organizations. It’s crucial to determine where weaknesses are and take steps to prevent malware attacks through improved scrutiny over traffic movement.
- IoT Exploits. IoT refers to the Internet of Things, the interconnection of computers, machines, objects and people over the internet. Healthcare organizations welcome the ability to easily transfer large volumes of data over their network, but doing so opens them up to potential security and privacy threats. Especially vulnerable are wearable and implantable devices such as smartwatches, insulin pumps and pacemakers. With such a proliferation of devices throughout the industry, developing security protocols could prove to be a logistical and technical nightmare.
- People. The human factor cannot be overlooked. A lack of employee awareness and training on security policies opens the door to improper protection of patient data. Healthcare organizations must make an effort to define security policies and share them with staff on a regular basis.