4 min read  | Telehealth

Is telehealth stressing our healthcare cybersecurity structures?

According to recent reports, more than 30 million telehealth consultations have been conducted between March and November 2020. While telehealth has brought many advantages to patients and healthcare providers, it has also presented a new set of risks to patient data.

In the first half of 2020, we witnessed more healthcare data breaches than the whole of 2019. The ACSC shared that it received 166 incident reports relating to the healthcare industry, which were primarily from healthcare providers and patients who were victims of health-related scams or data breaches.

This is a clear indication that as much as the healthcare ecosystem is advancing, its security is also becoming more challenging to maintain. As much as the industry adapts to the changing needs of service providers and patients, it is also in need of changes to its cybersecurity strategies. 

Do you need to change your healthcare cybersecurity structures?

As reported in the 2020 Health Sector Snapshot, rates of industry-related incidents are on the decline. This is not the moment to breathe a sigh of relief or let your guard down, though.

Last year, during the height of the pandemic, more and more COVID-19-themed scams were reported. This trend may likely continue, but the emphasis will be more on the vaccine’s research, manufacturing process, distribution, and administration phases.

The ACSC is yet to observe cyber incidents threatening these developments in Australia. According to international reports, however, cybercriminals are attempting to trick patients in other countries. We believe that they are targeting vaccine rollouts and companies that are involved in the vaccine supply chain.

The ACSC, therefore, advises all healthcare providers to maintain a heightened awareness of cybersecurity protocols. By doing so, it’s much harder for malicious actors to exploit existing or new vulnerabilities.

This means that while you maintain existing healthcare cybersecurity structures, you may also need to be aware of new threats that can compromise your data.

What can you do to enhance your healthcare cybersecurity structures?

With the explosion of connected devices along with the increasing value of digital medical records and an increasingly remote workforce, end-to-end cybersecurity is more important than ever for the healthcare industry.

It is, of course, of paramount importance to develop a robust security structure in your healthcare facility. Maybe you already have certain structures in place. Even if you do, the following recommendations may help you strengthen your healthcare cybersecurity structures.

  • Awareness is the first step. While you may already have a strategy in place to keep your staff aware, it is essential to promote ongoing education and training relating to future threats you may face. 

Most cybersecurity experts who provide awareness training are equipped, for example, to execute one or ongoing phishing simulations. While this, alone, is not enough, it contributes to helping you ensure better cyber practices across your staff. 

  • You must also ensure that your teams are following basic security protocols like keeping software updated, running antivirus software, using 2FA or MFA, and following relevant cybersecurity regulations. 

  • Don’t be quick to dismiss anything because it is outdated. Even if you are introducing new systems to your company’s security ecosystem, try not to eliminate the traditional security protocols you already have in place. If your system is ever hacked, that’s another layer of security that can keep your data safe or slow the attack down.

  • It will also be useful if you transition from consumer video-conferencing tools to a healthcare-specific video conferencing platform. This type of enterprise-grade software may include key security features like encryption and secure waiting rooms.

  • Strengthening your organisation’s prevention and detection capabilities is also critical. You must also prepare incident response plans to minimise negative consequences if a cyber attack ever takes place.

Make the most of your telehealth solution when you back it up with powerful cybersecurity

It’s easy to believe that the worst is behind us. The problem is that this type of thinking is outdated in the cybersecurity field. 

Even if we rode out a very challenging period for security, cybercriminals don’t step back and relax. They come back with more powerful attacks time and time again. 

That is why you need to assess your requirements and tailor your cybersecurity structures appropriately. Ensure your security strategies are updated and cultivate cyber resilience across your facilities and industry.