Put Health Data on Lockdown: How Hospitals Can Keep Patient Information Secure

Put Health Data on Lockdown: How Hospitals Can Keep Patient Information Secure

Posted by Marc Kavinsky, Editor at IoT Business News.

As we approach 2018, there are more things now than ever that are putting patients’ lives at risk. Not only are people distracted by their devices and causing injury to themselves and others, but the devices themselves can cause harm to an entire hospital. Cybercriminals are setting their sights on the medical field, stealing patient data in hopes of a large ransom payout. As a result, user confidence in the privacy of wearable, IoT devices remains low—especially potential consumers of the age-in-place market.

Without access to patients’ records, doctors and nurses can prescribe incorrect medications or perform procedures that can result in deadly consequences. That being said, there’s little medical professionals can do since there aren’t many rules and regulations related to handling situations like these. Although many smart home devices related to optimal health target the age-in-place market, IoT web developers need to keep an eye on data privacy and information security measures in order to be successful with baby boomers and older consumers, who tend to be suspicious of devices with GPS tracking and constant connectedness.

Does that mean hospitals are now forever doomed to be the personal piggybank of hackers everywhere? Hardly. As the healthcare profession utilizes the benefits of becoming more technologically advanced, there are things that can be done to keep patient data safe from potential data breaches.

It Starts with Employees

All it takes is one person to unintentionally allow hackers to access patient data. By holding security workshops and training sessions on HIPAA violations and password advice, it’ll make patient data that much safer.

Even with training, it’s important to limit the number of people who can access patient information to only the employees who need to access it. When restricting viewing privileges, authentication procedures should be put in place to increase data security. There more steps a person needs to take to validate their identity, the better.

Also, since employees will have probably have one or more personal devices on them, it’s best to institute a mobile device policy. Since hackers can gain access to important medical records through IoT such as mobile phones, it’s best to have rules and regulations on what can be downloaded and used on these devices.

Responsible Data Usage

Effective data management is paramount in this age of technology. There are many tools that can be used to further protect health data. By incorporating data controls, certain actions can be prevented from happening in the first place. Data sets can also be classified with different kinds of blocks depending on each set’s protection needs.

Having a login tracking tool is useful to see who is accessing information on which device, what location, and what date and time. This information becomes crucial if a hospital happens to suffer from a data breach in being able to pinpoint how it happened and what can be done to prevent cyberattacks in the future.

Although having a malicious stranger be in possession of important patient information isn’t good in anyone’s book, hospitals can negate some of the complications involved by having off-site data backups. Data can be protected even more by encrypting it so that if hackers were able to get their hands on it, they wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it, rendering it useless to them.

It’s even suggested to store physical medical records off-site as an extra safety precaution. However, hospitals should be wary of using cloud data services as their backup since fourth amendment rights can be removed. Once patient information is no longer needed, it is then suggested to regularly delete unnecessary data.

Make Network Security a Priority

Many hackers can find their way in through a shoddy network, which is why it’s important for healthcare professionals to make theirs as secure as possible. Having up-to-date firewalls and the latest antivirus software are must haves, but having safeguards in case of a breach is just as crucial. This includes using multiple networks so that if one gets compromised, a cybercriminal will not have access to all information.

With the use of wireless networks becoming more widespread, it’s integral that certain security steps are taken since these kinds of networks are more susceptible to cyberattacks. The first thing that needs to be done is to make sure the router that is being used is not outdated with security measures that cannot protect against advanced hacking methods. Additionally, networks shouldn’t be made available to other devices, and passwords should be changed on a regular basis.

When it comes to IoT usage in hospital settings, it’s best that they have their own network altogether. IoT devices are usually much easier for cybercriminals to hack, giving them a way to access valuable patient data. Prevent this by regularly monitoring the IoT network for any unusual activity, using authentication processes, and keeping up with each devices’ software updates. Also, we should keep track of policies and legislation advocating an IoT security standard, as was recently advocated on IoT Business News.

Although it may feel like there’s nothing hospitals can do when facing the possible threat of a data breach, the healthcare profession is not without defense against the onslaught of criminal cyber activity. By educating employees, monitoring data usage, and securing networks, medical professionals can focus more on taking care of patients instead of taking care of cyberattacks.

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