Healthcare organizations remain coveted targets for cybercriminals, who consider them veritable treasure troves of protected health information (PHI). Of course, PHI doesn’t just contain data about patients’ health records. It also contains names, addresses, insurance information and — most importantly — Social Security numbers. According to a study by Trend Micro, criminals who gain access to this data can use it in a wide range of ways, from obtaining drug prescriptions to committing tax fraud to even creating fake identities.
Because of this, it should be clear that hospitals, physicians’ offices and other healthcare organizations need to know how to keep business information safe on the web. It’s not just about the fines that await them if they fail to adhere to HIPAA regulations — it’s also about the fact that literally hundreds, if not thousands, of patients’ most sensitive data is on the line.
In order to remain HIPAA compliant and protect both your organization and your patients, it’s advisable to be informed about current online threats. Here are three of the top cyber-threats to healthcare organizations in 2018:
Crime-as-a-Service Will Expand
If you’ve heard of Software-as-a-Service — often referred to as SaaS — you probably have a good idea of what Crime-as-a-Service or CaaS is. It’s the online offering of advanced cybercrime tools by criminals to other criminals who then use them to exploit their targets.
Among the most popular tools are “phishing kits.” Phishing is the practice of hiding malicious links or code in emails or email attachments. When the email recipient clicks on the link or opens the attachment, a malicious script starts to run on the computer that transmits data to the criminals. This data is most often used to gain access to an organization’s network and, by extension, to its sensitive data.
For this reason, you’re best advised to educate yourself on how to prevent business hacking. In addition, it’s critical to communicate employee best practices for business data security to your staff — for example, by instructing them to never click on links or download attachments in emails from unknown sources. It’s also crucial to have a good security system in place that includes a robust firewall as well as anti-virus software and anti-malware.
Ransomware Will Target Cloud Providers as Well as Organizations
Ransomware is malware that encrypts a computer’s data and holds it for ransom. This can be crippling for businesses that haven’t backed up their data. It’s important to note that thanks to the increasing availability and sophistication of ransomware tools, they’re becoming more cost-effective for cybercriminals to purchase. Plus, it takes far less time to deploy them.
That’s why, in addition to large companies, smaller organizations are increasingly being targeted. In other words, smaller physicians’ offices and other healthcare facilities are not immune to these types of attacks. Again, a strong cybersecurity and anti-malware system should be your first line of defense against ransomware — plus, you need to securely back up all of your data.
And that’s where things get complicated, because cybercriminals are choosing more and more to target cloud providers — the very solution organizations choose as their primary backup method. By targeting cloud providers, cybercriminals can lock down the data of hundreds of organizations in a single blow — effectively paralyzing them until the ransom has been paid.
So when it comes to the question of how to keep businesses safe online, it means you need to select your cloud provider carefully. Keep in mind that giants such as Amazon, Google and IBM are likely to be less susceptible than smaller companies that can’t afford to hire the same top cybersecurity talent.
Cybercriminals Will Exploit the Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things — also referred to as IoT — is the network of “things” that are connected to the internet. These objects include physical devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as electronics embedded in appliances, clothes, cars, machinery and equipment.
In healthcare, the IoT is used for a wide range of things. For example, a heart patient might use a wearable device that tracks heart rate and sends this data to a databank where it can be accessed by the patient’s physician. The physician can then track the patient’s progress remotely and determine whether any additional treatment is necessary. At the same time, the IoT can even be used in operating theaters, both to provide data relevant to the care episode and secure a better outcome for the patient, as well as to control the operating theater’s environment.
Unfortunately, despite the vast possibilities presented by the IoT, it’s also a vulnerability. With such a wide range of devices being connected, there are numerous potential entry points to an organization’s network — and once cybercriminals gain access, they can mine the system for the sensitive data they want. To protect your organization against this type of cybercrime, make sure you have a robust security system that provides adequate protection for all endpoints. In addition, it’s always advisable to protect sensitive files with two-step authentication so only authorized users can access them.
Cloud Faxing Can Help Protect Your Organization’s Data
By now, it should be clear that keeping your organization’s and your patients’ sensitive data safe online requires constant vigilance and top-notch security measures. And when it comes to transmitting data, it’s important to note that cloud faxing is an outstanding way to securely transmit business data. This makes it preferable to other methods, such as email and file sharing. For example, ReplixFax from Softlinx encrypts all documents and transfers them via a secure cloud in a HIPAA-compliant manner. This minimizes the risk of any hackers or other cyber-criminals gaining access to it and protects your data so you can concentrate on your core business.
To learn more about how our HIPAA fax service can help your organization protect its data, contact us or schedule a live demo. You can also call 800-899-7724 to speak to an expert and get answers to all of your questions and concerns.