Updated: Jul 23, 2020
Hacking, Phishing, Ransomware, and over-all Data Breaches are on the rise. It seems that every advancement we make with data security, hackers are able to find a way through.
In this blog, we will discuss the importance of keeping your data secure. While we are using Medical Offices as an example, this information crosses over to almost every industry. If you use cloud storage, proprietary software, and store personal data, this blog holds valuable information for you.
Your Clients Put Their Trust in You
Medical professionals are not only entrusted with caring for the health of their patients, but also for keeping their information private. Given that, it’s no wonder why physicians must be some of the most trustworthy people in our communities.
However, on the other end of the spectrum are those who actively look to take advantage of the information that medical practices and hospital systems have accumulated over the years. But why are medical records so valuable and what can be done to protect them?
Richer Than You Think
Medical databases are among the top targets for hackers with more and more breaches taking place each year — but why? CBS News reported that while a social security number may be worth $1 and a credit card number $110 on the dark web (average numbers), a single medical record can be worth a whopping $1000 or more!
The reason for the value is that your medical records typically have more personal information than any other source out there. This may include your social security number, address, phone number, banking information, and a lot more. With so much at play, it’s no surprise why hackers are starting to focus more on these records than any other.
Who Bears the Responsibility?
Everyone in the healthcare industry in the US is aware that HIPAA prevents sharing medical information except under particular circumstances. But what if that information left your hands and was spread involuntarily? Although it may be a gray area, there’s still the strong likelihood that the medical office could be held liable, at least in a civil court — especially if they haven’t done everything possible to avoid the hack. Don’t forget that data breaches cost the healthcare industry upwards of $6 billion per year.
How to Protect Your Patients — and Yourself
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are often used by the medical industry to help avoid such situations. One way we do this is by helping these customers when it comes time to update ICD codes, (International Classification of Diseases). This can be tricky since HIPAA approved systems aren’t always the easiest to upgrade. Not only is the computer update important, but the people updates are as well.
Also, there is plenty for your MSP to do in helping you avoid HIPAA violations. For instance, any device used that contains or has access to patient information needs to be encrypted. In 2016, one iPhone that was lost at a single facility ended up created a $650,000 fine. Remember: it’s not your fault if the device is lost or stolen, but it is your fault if you failed to encrypt the information beforehand.
In a similar vein, when you dispose of older devices, you can’t just toss them in a dumpster and go about your day. These devices must be wiped clean, often in a way more substantial than just deleting records. While that might be acceptable if you want to dispose of your personal devices, those who understand computers can quickly get access to files that weren’t properly deleted. A good MSP can make that happen as part of their standard service.
Who Watches the Watchers?
Where you store your data is also a major part of data security. As we previously mentioned, some medical practices have used standard cloud storage and paid a heavy price when data was easily breached. While it’s true that cloud storage is easy and often a more inexpensive option, you have far less control over the information and the security of that data if it is out of your hands. Unless you use a top-of-the-line service, your data will be vulnerable as weaker services make prime targets for hackers. After all, why go after an individual when you can get data from thousands of companies at once through a cloud service?
Even if you decide to go with local storage, who has access to your data? With the genuine value of these records along with the absolute risk of liability, if things go sour, you need to be very careful with whom you allow access to the database. MSPs make sure that not only will your information be safe, but that the people who oversee your databased have all the proper education and certifications to avoid any problems down the line.
Let’s get real for a second here. Medicine and medical technology are advancing at breakneck speeds. Would most people feel comfortable with a physician who hasn’t been to a class or conference since graduating from medical school? Of course not!
Data security is exactly the same. As hackers become more and more advanced, MSPs must stay one step ahead of them to protect our clients. That’s why we make it a point to continually train our team on new security options and protocols.
If you don’t have a robust security plan in place for your office or business, don’t wait to give us a call. Every moment you’re not protected is a moment of opportunity for a pirate to rob you over your clients’ trust and confidence.
If your organization is starting to fall behind over a lack of attention to your IT, contact us today. Our expert team will be more than happy to evaluate your needs and help you implement and maintain the most reasonable and secure solution. The only thing you have to lose is sleepless nights.