4 Best Practices for Protecting Healthcare Data

Cyber threats and data breaches are not limited to big tech companies or enterprises. Healthcare systems are one of the main targets of cybersecurity attacks due to the importance and sensitivity of their data. Threats to this data can be disastrous for all individuals involved and even pose life-threatening risks. Healthcare sectors must look beyond physical safety to reduce risks related to digital data and implement robust data management and security practices.

Patient data is the most sensitive and targeted resource available to healthcare sectors. Data protection practices like network protection, access management, encryption, and implementing Zero Trust security healthcare architecture are vital to safeguarding this critical information.

Practices for Protecting Healthcare Date:

Protecting healthcare data includes protecting it when it transfers, at rest, or in use. To do that efficiently, healthcare security professionals must adopt modern data protection practices. These practices should be compliant to deal with the ever-growing cybersecurity threats. Following practices can help healthcare sectors ensure data protection:

1. Utilise Access Management Frameworks

Proper access management is a security measure to control who and how many resources each user or device can access, depending on authorisation and authentication. This practice only allows users with permission to access healthcare data, networks, and other resources. These controls help protect healthcare data from malicious third-party attacks.

Limited access controls ensure that any data breaches are easy to backtrack to their source. Some frameworks to implement when managing access controls are:

IAM

The Identity and Access Management (IAM) framework guarantees that all individuals accessing the cloud are appropriately authenticated and authorised. This framework includes a wide range of policies and tools to ensure that all access to the resources is managed and monitored.

Role-Based Access Control

This access control approach allows user access based on their role and job within the system. Access is restricted depending on authority, work responsibility, and job competency to ensure that no malicious user can access the data from inside or outside.

2. Implement Zero Trust Architecture

Implementing The Zero Trust security framework is one of the best practices to secure healthcare data. It provides stern access controls to healthcare data based on continuous identity verification for accessing each application or segment on the server. This framework always assumes the presence of breaches and restricts activities unless authorisation is confirmed. Some essential security components comprising this framework are:

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

A data breach can result from stolen credentials that give malicious third parties free access to all sensitive information. Multi-factor authentication verifies the user’s identity, trying to access healthcare data from several sources like OTP and fingerprint recognition, making it a great security solution against unauthorised access.

MFA adds an extra layer of protection to staff’s accounts. Upon entering their account credentials, identity verification is required in the form of a code sent to their mobile phone, a fingerprint scan, or a one-time password.

Never Trust, Always Verify Approach

Never trust approach re-authorises and re-authenticates the user privilege every time they try to assess a segment of the server. This approach is more effective in tackling breaches than least privilege, which gives access to all the healthcare data resources once the user verifies. Zero Trust enforces and monitors privileges every step of the way.

Micro segmentation

The Zero Trust framework separates the health sector’s system into multiple segments or applications. This restricts even an authorised user of the network from accessing all the data. Authorisation is required to access each segment separately. This reduces damage to the whole healthcare data system by decreasing the attack surface for cyber-attacks.

Continuous Diagnosis and Mitigation (CDM)

Healthcare sectors have a huge number of connected devices as they are starting to adopt internet-enabled medical devices and equipment. Medical staff and treatment procedures are also shifting towards the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) for accurate diagnosis. CDM is the security component of the Zero Trust framework that provides visibility and ensures the compliance of these healthcare devices with security requirements. It also provides threat intelligence and network activity logs.

3. Proper Data Storage and Monitoring

Data storage on physical hardware and devices is prone to many vulnerabilities. A proper security system with protected data storage and monitoring ensures that potential threats to healthcare data are identified, and even if the data is compromised, it is rendered useless to malicious third parties. This is achieved through:

Monitoring

A security framework that monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic from the system enables healthcare sectors to inspect all users and devices that access healthcare data and resources. Intrusion detection & prevention actions are also possible through traffic monitoring. Real-time monitoring of all data traffic prevents malicious users from moving huge amounts of sensitive data out of the system without being noticed.

Encrypting Data Storage

All healthcare data should be encrypted inside the storage. This approach provides added security to the data by encoding its contents. This ensures that even if sensitive data is compromised, it is not exploitable by third parties.

4. Data Protection through Cloud

Cloud services approach data security effectively by taking proper protection measures and risk management tactics to ensure that all data is safeguarded. Moving healthcare data to the cloud and applying proper access policies to this data is an efficient approach to healthcare data protection.

Cloud Data Backup

Data stored on the cloud can also be a form of backup to ensure health sectors work continuity even after a cyberattack.

Remote Access

Shifting healthcare data to the cloud effectively lets doctors and staff access this critical information from anywhere if the situation requires it. Many healthcare services are also switching to remote support allowing people in need to get in contact with healthcare professionals remotely. Such an approach requires protective measures to ensure safe communication.

Threat Protection Strategies

Cloud services use protective strategies like access controls, firewalls, and gateways to ensure that all access to healthcare data is protected from third-party intrusions.

Conclusion

Healthcare sectors are vulnerable to cyber threats due to a lack of security measures to protect their sensitive data. Cyber-attacks can result in corruption, theft, and manipulation of critical client information, endangering many lives. Implementing these best healthcare practices ensures the implementation of good security hygiene and the protection of data.

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