Locking the Digital Door to Risk: Proactive IT and Website Security Strategies to Protect Your Business
on May 26, 2023
By Nick Dideriksen, Director of Business Technology, VGM Forbin
Protecting your business from an IT and website security standpoint is absolutely crucial. With the increasing number of cyber threats and data breaches, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your business from these risks. The risk to any business is simply too large to ignore—and it isn’t a matter of if your company is targeted, but when— especially in healthcare.
Understanding Your Risks
The first step in implementing cybersecurity best practices is to understand these risks. Your DMEPOS business collects and transmits sensitive data, such as personal health information and medical history. This data is valuable to cybercriminals, who can use it for identity theft, insurance fraud, and other nefarious purposes.
Additionally, the devices themselves can be vulnerable to attacks, which can result in the manipulation of medical data, denial of service attacks, or even physical harm to the patient. We know that DMEPOS providers must balance the need for security with the need for accessibility and ease of use. Patient data must be accessible to healthcare providers when and where it is needed, but this must be done in a way that protects the privacy and security of the data.
Security Challenges in Healthcare
One of the biggest challenges in cybersecurity in healthcare is the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks. Hackers are developing new and more complex attack methods, and are targeting healthcare organizations for the valuable patient data they hold.
A 2022 report by the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike found that the healthcare sector is the third-most targeted industry for ransomware attacks, with the average ransom payment in the sector increasing by 82% in 2021.1 And a 2022 report by the healthcare cybersecurity company Medigate found that the number of cyberattacks on healthcare organizations increased by 55% from 2020 to 2021.2 The same report found that medical device vulnerabilities increased by 47% in 2021, with many devices still running on outdated software that is no longer supported by the manufacturer.
Another challenge is the increasing complexity of DMEPOS systems, with many connected devices, networks, and software applications. Each of these systems present a potential entry point for cybercriminals, making it difficult to secure the entire system. Many healthcare organizations also have limited resources and budgets for cybersecurity, making it challenging to keep up with the evolving threat landscape.
Plans for Improvement
Regardless, a 2021 survey by the security company CyberMDX found that 65% of healthcare organizations plan to increase their cybersecurity budgets in the coming year, with many planning to invest in new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain.3
These technologies can be used to detect and respond to cyber threats in real time, and can also be used to identify patterns and anomalies in data that may indicate a potential security breach. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that provides a secure and transparent way to store and share data. It can be used to store and manage patient data, ensuring that it is secure and only accessible to authorized users.
From a practical and easy place to start, below are two checklists with proactive strategies you can implement to help mitigate this very real risk, as well as ensure compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule.
- Conduct ongoing risk analysis and assessments
- Use strong passwords
- Use multifactor authentication
- Keep software up to date
- Use antivirus and anti-malware software
- Use a firewall
- Be aware of phishing scams
- Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices
- Implement security policies and procedures
- Encrypt ePHI
- Limit access to ePHI
- Monitor and audit activity
WEBSITE SECURITY CHECKLIST
- Secure your website
- Use SSL encryption
- Implement access controls
- Encrypt stored data
- Regularly update software
- Conduct security risk assessments
- Use alt tags for images
- Ensure your website is keyboard accessible
Improved Security Improves Patient Care
Cybersecurity is a critical issue and risk to your business that will only become more important in the future. The increasing adoption of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, integrated systems, and medical devices, along with the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks, present significant challenges to DMEPOS businesses.
Together, we can create a more secure and resilient system that protects patient data and improves patient care.
- “2022 Global Threat Report.” CrowdStrike; 2022. Accessed February 2023. https://www.crowdstrike.com/global-threat-report/.
- “Healthcare IoT Security 2022 Moving beyond Device Visibility Segment Insights.” Medigate; 2022. Accessed February 2023. https://www.medigate.io/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/KLAS-2022-Segment-Report-Brief.pdf.
- “Perspectives in Healthcare Security.” CyberMDX and Philips; 2021. Accessed February 2023. https://www.forescout.com/perspectives-in-healthcare-securityreport/.
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This article was originally featured in the VGM Playbook: Safeguarding Your Future in DMEPOS. To read the full article and more like this, download your copy of the playbook today!