It’s every healthcare organization’s worst nightmare: a cyber attack or data breach.
Blue Cross Blue Shield knows the nightmare only too well. Several years ago they experienced a hardware theft. While no evidence surfaced indicating that sensitive private data was used or even accessed, the event illuminated vulnerabilities present in all healthcare organizations.
So how can you prepare for a cyber attack and protect your sensitive data?
Practice sessions, ranging from staging mock incidents to tabletop exercises, are an excellent way to find weaknesses in security protocols.
The beauty of tabletop exercises is that, when preparing for a data breach, you can review a simulated emergency scenario. These tabletop drills form the core of information systems and information security emergency preparedness.
Mock incidents take employees out of their heads and into the very real world of a breach. Running through a simulation provides a better understanding of the issues at hand and often highlights vulnerabilities that would not have otherwise been found until an actual cyber attack occurred.
Other Tools to Prepare for a Cyber Attack
Along with mock incidents and tabletop exercises, healthcare organizations have an assortment of options to help secure their information, including:
- Data encryption, a vital preventative step in protecting sensitive data
- Regularly reviewing and updating who has access to sensitive information
- Conducting regular risk assessments and evaluations to determine potential privacy threats
- Regularly reviewing and updating data destruction procedures and policies
- Using automated tools such as intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems, anti-malware, and anti-virus tools
Additional Impact on Healthcare
The healthcare industry carries an extra burden when it comes to data breaches: patient care.
We all know a cyber attack can compromise sensitive data, but did you know it can result in power outages ranging from a few hours to a few days? Cyber attacks can affect other electronic systems as well. A cyber attack or data breach can trigger a dramatic slowdown or even an outright shutdown of systems relied upon for patient care.
To lessen the impact on patient care, healthcare organizations can implement practical medicine drills; these refreshers on how to practice medicine in power outage situations when computers and other diagnostics are offline can reduce or even eliminate the patient impact of a cyber attack.
An Ounce of Prevention
When it comes to preparing for a cyber attack or a data breach, the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly rings true. By implementing preventative measures before a cyber attack actually hits, the resulting damage can be dramatically minimized, if not prevented.
Is your healthcare organization prepared for a cyber attack or data breach? Do you have the tools and the staff in place to not only make sure is your sensitive data protected, but your patients are too? Contact one of the MedPartners team members today for more information on how you can help prepare your organization through optimal staffing.