Not sure where to start when it comes to increasing your organization’s cybersecurity efforts? You’re not alone. With the number of cybersecurity attacks and data breaches rising in the healthcare industry, it has become essential to consider—and quickly put into place—protocols for developing or strengthening your practice’s security protection plan. These protocols could make all the difference if your organization is impacted by a security incident. Ensuring that your practice implements a cyber hygiene policy, an incident response plan, and a zero-trust mindset can go a long way to minimizing exposure to—and damage caused by—cyber threats.
Building your practice’s cyber resilience may seem like a daunting task that may not have immediate results, but it can be an essential way to fight against cyber incidents that become more sophisticated by the moment. Before we dive into tactics, let’s get a better sense of what cyber resiliency encompasses. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the term cyber resilience is defined as “the ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to adverse conditions, stresses, attacks, or compromises on systems that use or are enabled by cyber resources.” Here’s a closer look at the security improvements that healthcare practices like yours are making to build their cyber resiliency.
The Cyber Hygiene Checklist
How do you know your organization is practicing good cyber hygiene? The answer is simpler than you may think. Making sure a few basic precautions are consistently practiced can prevent many cyber threats from becoming full-fledged security crises, which are often costly and from which recovery is often challenging. Your practice can take the first steps in the cyber-resilience journey by adhering to certain guidelines for good cyber hygiene. Here are some tips for staying in good cyber shape:
- Changing passcodes regularly and making them complex
- Backing up data consistently for emergency recovery purposes
- Limiting user access to sensitive data to only those who need it
- Updating hardware and software to latest versions
- Implementing multi-factor identification for all users
- Utilizing firewall to block unauthorized access
- Encrypting data and devices for privacy
Incident Response Plan Development
An incident response plan equips organizations like yours with a framework to manage during a data breach. These plans are required for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance and can help your practice respond effectively if data has been compromised. You may be wondering, what does this type of plan need to address? SecurityMetrics, an organization that assesses PCI DSS compliance and HIPAA security, identifies the following areas for coverage in an incident response plan:
- Preparation includes effectively training employees to respond to data breaches by testing and approving preparatory methods before an actual incident occurs and conducting mock data breaches to ensure internal teams are equipped to respond if/when real data breaches occur.
- Identification involves determining if your organization has been affected by a breach by tracing who was involved in the breach, when it occurred, the scope of the damage, who discovered it, and how it was discovered.
- Containment should involve disconnecting from the internet, patching (fixing cyber vulnerabilities and bugs) and updating software, implementing more effective remote-access protocols like multi-factor identification, backing up data for recovery, and determining protocols for operating in the short and long term after a data breach occurs.
- Eradication involves securely removing all malware and patching and updating systems. The process of ensuring that all malware has been removed before any data is restored and returned is essential to eradicating these attacks. Once the systems and data are deemed safe, recovery can begin.
- Recovery involves restoring and returning affected systems and devices back to your organization’s use. This part of the plan should also include monitoring for any further compromises on a consistent basis.
- Lessons learned is a phase that should involve participating in a meeting to determine how the breach happened and what the organization can do in the future to monitor and address these vulnerabilities before they result in another compromise.
The Zero-Trust Security Model.
Anticipating cyber threats and potential areas of vulnerability have become effective ways to mitigate risk. Part of this process includes limiting access to information on a need-to-know basis, creating a zero-trust mindset. According to the National Security Agency (NSA), “The zero-trust security model assumes that a breach is inevitable or has likely already occurred, so it constantly limits access to only what is needed and looks for anomalous or malicious activity.” For healthcare organizations to become cyber resilient, it is essential to only grant system access to those employees who deal directly with sensitive information like patient data. Following this policy reduces your organization’s exposure to cyberattacks because fewer people will be able to access data and transmit it—deliberately or accidentally—to unauthorized sources.
The NSA recommends a stringent verification process that always authenticates users and their log-in information. It may seem like an extra step to put these processes into place, but if it delays, organizations face greater exposure to a data breach or another form of cyberattack.
Partner with Rectangle Health for Secure Payment Technology
For cyber-resilient payment technology, choose Rectangle Health’s flagship platform, Practice Management Bridge®, a HIPAA- and PCI DSS-complaint, Point-to-Point Encryption-enabled solution that simplifies the healthcare payment experience for practices and patients alike. When you select Rectangle Health as your partner, you sign on for solutions that not only make workflows more efficient for staff and payment options that engage patients, but also for technology that encrypts and tokenizes patient payment data for compliance and safety purposes. Our solutions can enhance the security measures your practice already has in place for payments by facilitating a digital transformation that can protect patient payment data from a potential breach.
Practice Management Bridge also eases the payment journey by providing users an end-to-end digital solution that includes contactless features, like Text-to-Pay, online and mobile payments, Card on File, and digital registration forms, that minimize payment-related data entry, eliminate paper from the payment journey, and engage patients with omnichannel payment flexibility. Our platform automates payment processes and interfaces with any existing practice management system. Contact us to schedule a consultation.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (n.d.) Computer Security Resource Center. Retrieved from https://csrc.nist.gov/glossary/term/cyber_resiliency
- SecurityMetrics (n.d.) 6 Phases in the Incident Response Plan. SecurityMetrics. Retrieved from https://www.securitymetrics.com/blog/6-phases-incident-response-plan
- National Security Agency. (2021, February 25) Embracing a Zero Trust Security Model. NSA. Retrieved from https://media.defense.gov/2021/Feb/25/2002588479/-1/-1/0/CSI_EMBRACING_ZT_SECURITY_MODEL_UOO115131-21.PDF