Cybersecurity Lessons, You Shouldn't Learn Them the Hard Way

Published in Member Communities on Monday, October 8, 2018

As a healthcare professional, you tell your clients to take preventative steps in regards to their health. Are you taking this same advice when it comes to their data protection? As a major US industry player, healthcare organizations are a top target for criminals looking to steal protected data. Unfortunately, they are also one of the top industries falling behind when it comes to cybersecurity.

While there are a variety of reasons for this, what we want to focus on in this blog is the importance of constantly securing patient data against possible cyber-attacks. Here are a few real-world examples of what can happen when healthcare organizations don’t follow proper data protocol:

1. Don't Put Off Software Updates

Procrastination and cyber protection do not belong in the same sentence. It is incredibly important to be at the forefront of providing updates to all of your devices in order to make them impregnable to hackers. Delaying updates puts your devices and data at risk.

Lesson: Misfortune Cookie was discovered in 2014, but not addressed by those using medical gateway devices until this year when it became a major issue. Without an update, a hacker could gain access to admin-level privileges to medical devices. Even the update will not apply to some versions, and we can only hope that those hospitals will disable those web servers. Not updating vulnerabilities when they are first recognized will allow this to happen again and again.

2. Make Sure Your Devices and Important Documents Are Password Protected

A large part of complying with this is employee training. In healthcare facilities, there are diverse levels of employees with access to Protected Health Information. Typically, these are accessed in thousands of different devices throughout the building. These devices keep patients alive and hold records of vital health information that criminals would love to exploit.

This is why ramping up your security measures are so important. We recommend reiterating to employees how important security is to patient lives and implementing multi-factor authorization.

Lesson: The University of Mississippi Medical Center agreed to a $2.75 million dollar HIPAA settlement. They incurred a data breach that impacted 10,000 individuals because of poor password protection. A password-protected laptop was stolen by a hospital visitor who was able to easily gain access to thousands of files. If they had taken the proper password and physical security measures, this risk could have been eliminated.

3. Continuously Perform Risk Assessments

Cybersecurity is not a one and done deal. As attackers change their tactics to commit crimes against you and your patients, you need to continually adjust your defenses. Procrastination and cyber ignorance are your enemies. You want to have an IT partner who is an expert in assessing your risks. They should be monitoring, analyzing and detecting threats to your institution and provide a timely solution.

Lesson: St. Elizabeth Medical Center paid a settlement of $218,400 because of HIPAA violations. There was staff use of a cloud-based file sharing application that was never evaluated and resulted in putting 500 patients’ PHI at risk. If they had been continually conducting risk assessments, this could have been avoided.

We sincerely hope that you never have to learn these lessons the hard way. Contact us today for a proactive Vulnerability Assessment to determine your risk landscape.


comments powered by Disqus

From Our Experts

New Educational Courses From VGM Wound Care thumbnail New Educational Courses From VGM Wound Care Skin health affects every single customer of an HME provider. VGM Wound Care has the tools and solutions for the HME industry to thrive in the wound care market, including three new educational resources that have just been released. These “Wound Care 101” courses cover the basics of wound care pertaining to skin and the healing process, surgical dressings and debridement, and therapeutic support surfaces. In Memory of Brandon Edmondson thumbnail In Memory of Brandon Edmondson Our team is saddened to announce the passing of Brandon Edmondson. Many of you know him from his time with the Permobil Family or as a leader in the CRT industry. We know him from many industry conferences and U.S. Rehab Tech Trainings. No matter how you may have interacted with Brandon, you know that he had a kind soul and was a great source of energy. We send our deepest condolences to all who loved Brandon. U.S. Rehab Supplier Partner Updates: January 2020 thumbnail U.S. Rehab Supplier Partner Updates: January 2020 U.S. Rehab Supplier Partner Updates: January 2020 Packer Perspective: Defending the True Need of the Standing Frame Chair thumbnail Packer Perspective: Defending the True Need of the Standing Frame Chair I have written about a lot of items over the last few years, and today I want to write about one that we are seeing happen quite often with the standing frame chair. VGM's Top Moments of 2019 thumbnail VGM's Top Moments of 2019 VGM had quite a year in 2019! New U.S. Rehab Website Unveiled thumbnail New U.S. Rehab Website Unveiled U.S. Rehab is excited to unveil our newly redesigned website, https://www.vgm.com/communities/us-rehab/! While you will undoubtedly notice the fresh look, there is more! The site is designed to offer a better experience, making it easier for you to find the information you're looking for. Supplier Partner Updates: January 2020 thumbnail Supplier Partner Updates: January 2020 All VGM supplier partner updates for January 2020. From VGM Community Leaders: What to Expect in 2020 thumbnail From VGM Community Leaders: What to Expect in 2020 Now that the new year has arrived, we asked our community leaders at VGM what they are looking forward to in 2020 for respiratory/sleep, orthotics and prosthetics, women's health, wound care, and home modifications. Below are their responses: