Data Security in Healthcare: Why It’s Important

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Cyber-attacks on healthcare organizations is not a new trend. Surprisingly, one of the most lucrative targets for hackers is the data surrounding healthcare. With the increasing level of cybercrimes, more than 69% of healthcare organizations have decided to be more sensitive to data security. Not only that, but data privacy is being kept at high priority within the healthcare IT systems.

In the past decade, the efforts to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access has been greatly increasing. Such information may include patient data under Protected Health Information (PHI), payment and medical records, employees’ data, and data related to wireless Internet connection which is present in every healthcare environments. However, most of the times, despite putting the “best security defenses” against threats, healthcare organizations tend to look past some steps for protecting their data. The reason is because the IT department within the organizations lack proper budget to boost security, which can ultimately put them and the personal data of millions in jeopardy.

Why is healthcare data so valuable?

Healthcare records are considered as high-value to data-breaches because of the richness of personal, financial, and medical information included in it. Cyber-thieves can actually sell this information on the dark web. This data can enable thieves on the dark web to commit financial and insurance fraud, identity theft, and other criminal acts. Moreover, each patient’s information can be sold for thousands of dollars – making it the perfect source for money.

One of the most prominent forms of cyber-attack is Ransomware. It’s a malware that attacks victim’s data and makes it inaccessible and unusable for the owner. The hacker then asks for a ransom fee in exchange for the data’s safe return. If refused to pay, the hacker then releases the information on the dark web and renders it inaccessible to the original owner. Moreover, a small thing such as someone’s identity can cause them great inconvenience for months and even cost thousands of dollars if sold on the dark web.

The Evolution of Technology in Healthcare:

The digitalization of healthcare has introduced time-saving technologies such as Electronic Medal Record Systems (EMR) which enables medical staff to enter, revise and track health records of patients. These platforms are now available via web and allows patients to check their medical information, payments, and diagnosis, and prescription services without the need of driving to a hospital. Although inventions like these have contributed a lot to the health industry, it has also opened doors to cyber-attack threats as many health organizations still have outdated security which can be easily breached.

Although there is a lot of advancement needed in related to security of the healthcare industry, it shows exactly how important educating medical staff is. Not only will this ensure the highest security in authorizing and authenticating access to health data, but will help prevent frequent breaches. For example, it would be wise for a medical staff who need to revise or access a patient’s electronic health record through a clinical portal that ensures top-notch security. Access to this sort of health data should only be granted to the authorized staff and this access point can be reviewed frequently by the IT professionals.

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