Paperless records and billing offer an opportunity to go green, have easy access to documents, and protection against physical damage like a flood or fire. Sophisticated layers of e-security are supposed to offer more protection, too.
But the reality is that hackers are getting are more advanced as well, with breach after breach of sensitive data. Healthcare IT departments should be concerned, as criminals are targeting the health industry more often.
Here are five data security challenges for health informatics students to know.
Information Stored in the Cloud May Be Vulnerable
Storing information in online servers referred to as “the cloud” may be easier for businesses, but a hack of Apple’s servers that resulted in the online leaks of celebrity photos proves that it’s not entirely secure. That breach has resulted in extra layers of security, and healthcare system officials will need to check how they will upgrade their security as well.
Viruses and Malware Still Infect Computer Systems
The use of viruses and malware to tamper with data has a long history in the cyber world — and they are still used to steal information today. Experts have long suspected that the healthcare industry is especially vulnerable to such attacks. The healthcare industry reportedly lags behind other industries, such as banking, military, and finance, to address problems that were already known. A rush to digitize patient records left gaps in security that hospitals must fill to protect patient data.
If the software isn’t updated properly, data is open to attacks of more recent bugs that outdated systems will not recognize. Virus protection software must continually be updated to support protection against increasingly cunning attacks.
Passwords Should Be Protected
It may seem very simple, but passwords to databases and records are the first line of defense against a security breach. A facility may have one password for hundreds of employees to use, which makes the system vulnerable. Passwords are the gatekeepers of privileged information and often offer restriction to certain areas. Passwords must be changed regularly and kept safe.
Mobile Devices Make Traveling Information Easy Targets
Not only do we have to worry about information that is safe on the network, but the laptops, tablets, or mobile medical devices used to aid and treat patients need safeguards as well. Information in transit is vulnerable to being intercepted and re-routed. Also, even if the information is securely transferred, it doesn’t mean it’s secure where it has ended up.
Health care facilities must set regulations for data encryption and approved devices to house certain information. Use of personal laptops, phones, and other equipment should be restricted unless the IT department has safeguarded them.
Every Online System Must Be Protected
Every system that is online, even if it seemingly doesn’t have anything to do with patient information, needs protection. For example, hackers reportedly gained access to Target customer information through an online heating and cooling system. Every system linked to sensitive data must also be protected, as the link could result in a massive breach.
Electronic records offer a valuable convenience but healthcare IT departments must respond to the challenges of security that come with it.