How to secure data in the healthcare industry

November 16, 2016

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The Intruder Alarm Report 2020

There were 105 security breaches of UK hospitals and other NHS organisations in the financial year 2014-2015 – 81% more than the previous period.

There were also 21 breaches at private health companies, more than double the year before.

Even more worryingly, 41% of all data breaches brought to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office in the first quarter of 2016 were from the medical sector.

It appears that robust data protection and online security policies are more important than ever to protect the tens of millions of medical records on file.

So how can healthcare data be secured? Here are a few top tips on how to secure data in the healthcare industry:

Turn staff into your biggest asset

Doctors, nurses, receptionists and all the other employees that make a healthcare system successful are both the sector’s most important and highest risk assets. This is because 93% of data protection breaches are caused by human error, 95% of targeted attacks involve spear-phishing scams and, on average, IT support teams are understaffed by 42 members.

Whether breaches are made with malicious intent or caused by accidental error, improved training and raised awareness can help reduce the likelihood of such circumstances occurring.

Boost encryption levels

Although it may seem secure, the average email is surprisingly easy to intercept, therefore a secure messaging system with end-to-end encryption is essential when transferring sensitive information such as medical records.

Don’t forget storage either! An investment in secure messaging services would be a waste if the information could easily be accessed at its resting end point. Data should be encrypted, partitioned and protected wherever it is stored, so even if a hacker does get in, they won’t get their hands on all of the files and won’t be able to read them.

healthcare-tablet-data-iotLimit access to information

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘what you don’t know, won’t hurt you’. Well, limiting access works in a similar way – keeping medical or other sensitive data on a need-to-know basis reduces the risk of a security breach.

Adding multiple, password-protected levels of security within a system and providing only certain job roles or senior staff with authority to access this information will limit the resources available to cybercriminals… and disgruntled staff.

Monitor outbound communications

Monitoring communications can be a controversial subject when it comes to staff and patient privacy, however the use of monitoring software should be used alongside a secure data transfer system to prevent the wrong kind of information getting out.

Should this information get out, an advanced system like Maytech’s will alert you and these messages can be accessed, edited, moved or deleted in minimal time to diminish the time this information is exposed.

Secure large file transfers

Sending a large number of files can be tricky; you can’t use an average email messaging service as these have size limits. So how can large data transfers be done safely and securely? Compliant, cloud-based FTP infrastructures could be the answer. With no file size limits and fast transfer anywhere in the world with full activity logs, this is a tailored solution that many businesses are adopting.

There are dozens of ways the healthcare industry can secure its data and ensure there are no breaches; the above are just a few. One thing is for sure, with recent cases that have seen patient networks and NHS trusts fined hundreds of thousands of pounds for data security breaches, things can always be improved.




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