Just What the Doctor Ordered: Protecting Your Medical Practice from a Malicious Attack

In an age of sharing with our friends and followers what show we’re binge watching and what we’re eating for lunch, there are still some things we don’t share publicly (surprisingly), and that’s our private medical history. We’re a little more closed off to sharing our medical issues. We worry about judgment and persecution by our peers when it comes to our mental and physical health histories, and would prefer to share them on our own time, but our triglyceride levels, chronic depression and heart murmur could soon be made public, all thanks to the scheming antics of cybercriminals.

How Common is a Data Breach?

Bloomberg reports that cyberattacks are costing the healthcare system $6 billion a year. Bloomberg’s report goes on to say that cyberattacks on medical practices have doubled in the last five years, with the average security breach costing targeted hospitals over $2 million. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, close to 90 percent of all healthcare professionals suffered a data breach. While the Ponemon Institute does point out that inadvertent employee mistakes and third-party accidents do contribute to the numbers, malware, ransomware and DOS attacks were at the forefront of the cyber threats.

How can you keep your private practice from being a target? Read on and you’ll get a step-by-step list detailing what you can do to protect your practice.

Install EVERY Update

Yes, it is annoying to have to stop doing what you’re doing on the computer to allow for an update, especially when they require that your computer reboot, but these updates are often security related. An up-to-date computer system is tougher to penetrate because the coding has changed. Hackers can more easily get into an out-of-date system because they have had more time to familiarize themselves with the coding and are able to locate the weak patches in the system.

Install Security Software

Security software includes anti-spyware, anti-malware and antivirus systems that prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your system and your patients’ personal information.

Establish Clear-Cut Rules

There’s going to be down time in the office, and it’s going to be tempting for your staff (and you) not to goof around on the internet checking social media feeds or doing some online shopping. If you or an employee happen to click one infected link, your entire system is at risk of getting breached. Set up rules that limit internet time and prohibit personal email, shopping and social media use.

Encryption is Key

For anyone to be able to access your practice’s files and other information, they must have a password. Use encryption with your access codes on all work computers and devices. Change the password frequently, and don’t use the same password for file.

Get Insurance

Given the statistics, there’s a very high chance your practice is going to come under a cyberattack. Cyber liability insurance and other cyber insurance packages offer financial coverage to repair your damaged network, compensate your practice for lost business, compensate your clients/patients for breach of contract and pays for litigation should your clients/patients take you to court for malpractice.

Get Cybersecurity

You Shouldn’t stop at getting insurance, you should also invest in a cybersecurity agency that specializes in checking network connectivity, longevity and security. IT cybersecurity professionals conduct routine cyber checks to your network and seal any holes and reinforce all weak coding so that a cybercriminal cannot “break in” to your system and steal your practice’s private information.

It doesn’t take much from a cybercriminal to hack into your system, but it also doesn’t take much to protect it. Just follow these steps and all will be well.