Healthcare Cybersecurity Best Practices

Healthcare cyber crime is on the rise. These healthcare sector cybersecurity best practices will help organizations protect data, finances, and patients.

Healthcare attacks rose by 55 percent in 2020, impacting roughly 26 million people in the United States. As a $13.2 billion industry, the healthcare sector must actively secure protected health information (PHI) and safeguard critical systems and data from cyber criminals.

To help mitigate healthcare cybersecurity risks, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices (HICP): Managing Threats and Protecting Patients. A game changing and long-awaited publication, this document sets the standard for the industry’s approach to prioritizing cybersecurity and reducing IT risk.

It offers insight into the current challenges faced by the sector, identifies healthcare-specific vulnerabilities, and details best practices for defending against advanced threats, such as:

  1. Ransomware
  2. Loss or theft of equipment or data
  3. Internal malicious activity

With this information, healthcare providers of all sizes can improve their approaches to cybersecurity with tried-and-true strategies. All organizations should work with their internal IT teams, or a third-party cybersecurity expert, to instate the following protections:


Protections for Healthcare Cybersecurity Best Practices

Email protection systems

  • Email system configuration
  • Staff education
  • Phishing simulations

Endpoint protection systems

  • Patch and endpoint management
  • Visibility
  • Ransomware protection
  • Medical device protection

Access management

  • Principle of least privilege
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Access logs, audits, and real-time notifications

Data protection and loss prevention

  • Data assessment
  • Data breach response plan
  • Supply chain security

Asset management

  • Inventory
  • Asset management plan

Network management

  • IoT devices
  • WiFi

Vulnerability management

  • Vulnerability assessments
  • Risk management
  • Control frameworks

Incident response

  • Incident response plan
  • Staff training

Medical device security

  • Inventory
  • Vulnerability assessments
  • Configuration and controls reviews

Cybersecurity policies

  • Data classification
  • Governance
  • Acceptable use
  • Cyber attack response plan

Cybersecurity is an essential part of healthcare in the modern age. Because cyber criminals have painted such a large target on PHI and healthcare systems, protecting patient data has become inextricable from protecting patient health. Following the guidance above will aid healthcare organizations in strengthening defenses against cyber crime, meeting compliance goals, and safeguarding data and finances.

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