Data Privacy: What is Kryptonite to the Most Effective and Deadly Threat Actors?

Here are the top 4 threat deterrents they don’t want you to know.

Data privacy security has never been more vital towards healthcare organizations than it is today. For example, Black Kite recently published their annual 2022 Third-Party Breach Report, which examined the impact of third-party cyber breaches in 2021. Their findings are quite alarming for healthcare providers. Threat actors assaulted the healthcare industry, which caused 33% of all reported malicious strikes. Overall, 1.5 billion users’ personally identifiable information (PII) was leaked because of third-party infiltrations in 2021.  

A concentrated cyber threat recently exploited one of the world’s largest health organizations, the American Red Cross. In late January of this year, they reported that a third-party contractor was the victim of a malicious cyberattack, which compromised the confidential data of 515,000 “extremely vulnerable” people (many of whom were separated from their families due to conflict, migration, disaster, and/or missing persons). Tom Garrubba, VP at Shared Assessments, told Healthcare IT News, No organization, even those that have storied histories of doing good in the world, [is] safe from a cyberattack.” 

As a healthcare provider, it’s hard to quantify the total monetary loss of a data breach, much less the irreputable damage to an organization’s reputation. However, providers should be focused on helping the innocent lives who were impacted. Regardless, having a solid foundation of data privacy knowledge will only help you in protecting your patient’s information from looming threats ahead. 

We’ve provided a few helpful tips to help you on your way.  

What is data privacy for healthcare and hospitals? 

Data privacy is the right of an individual to control the collection, access to, and use of personal information about them that is under the control or custody of the government or the private sector. 

Why is data privacy vital to your healthcare organization? 

  • Patients need to feel safe in a healthcare environment. When they feel confident that their information is secure in the hands of their healthcare provider, it encourages them to provide complete and accurate data. 
  • Clients may be on the fence about trusting you with their confidential info. According to Shred-it’s 2021 Data Protection Report, more than 8 out of every 10 consumers decide which companies to work with based upon their reputation for information security. It appears that customers have far less confidence in the privacy of their data in 2022 than they have in years past. In fact, the numbers are troubling70% of the consumers surveyed were personally affected by a data violation in 2021, compared to 53% in 2020. 
  • Word of mouth. It takes only one person that shares a horrific experience with you to hurt your business. Bear in mind, your patients are coming to your office in their most vulnerable state. If their records are ever compromised, the repercussions can be catastrophic to your organization’s standing, and on various occasions, your wallet, through lawsuits. 

How will a bad actor infiltrate your healthcare organization’s confidential data? 

Threat actors know the best route to a big payday is by being quickly, efficiently, and unnoticeably. They want to get in and out before anyone knows they were there. Their method of choice…cunning social engineering email assaults. 

The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) Journal reported their observations, captured over a 12-month period, in their 2021 Healthcare Data Breach Report. Starting in September 2021, each successive month saw a gradual increase   in the number of confidential information violations. Two months later, their findings showed that in one month alone, the total data infiltrations rose from 59 to 68 breaches. This was well above the 12-month average of 56 privacy breaches a month.  

It seems Hacking/IT incidents dominated the Data Breach Report in November, accounting for 50 of the recorded 68 infringements. That same month, 2,327,353 healthcare records were exposed or stolen from these incidents, which tallied to 98.18% of all invaded records. 

Bad actors raided their intended targets with these premeditated strikes:   

  • Calculated ransomware attacks through network servers 
  • Strategic phishing attacks through email 
  • Premeditated malware infection through network servers 
  • Deliberate public portal infiltration through network servers 

How can you protect your patient’s confidential data? 

Stay informed on Consumer Privacy Legislation 

Over the past years, data protection laws and regulations have continued to evolve to protect businesses and consumers while deterring malicious actors. Several states, including California, Colorado, and Virginia, have passed comprehensive data privacy legislation that governs how companies must safeguard consumers’ personal information and secure an individual’s privacy.  

As new threats emerge, it’s important to be aware of the most current healthcare regulations and data privacy compliance measures that may impact your patients.  

Educate your staff on government data privacy-related issue content: 

  • The National Privacy Commission (NPC) protects every human’s right to individual privacy, particularly information privacy, while ensuring the free flow of information. The NPC’s website provides valuable information on data privacy details.  
  • The DPO Journal (DPO-Data Protection Officer) is the official monthly newsletter of the National Privacy Commission (NPC). This valuable resource provides a wealth of facts and tips on data privacy-related issues in the Health and Hospitals Sector.  
  • The HIPAA Journal provides a collection of broad knowledge and particulars on HIPAA compliance and regulations. (HIPAA pertains to privacy issues related to your health records and what doctors and insurance companies can share with one another and other outside parties.) 

Develop Comprehensive Data Protection Strategies 

Create and implement a clear cybersecurity strategy immediately: 

  • Gather the following information: What type of data is collected? Where is it stored? With whom is it shared and how?  
  • Outline potential risks to confidential information and categorize it according to its physical or electronic form. Once you’ve inventoried your data, conduct a risk assessment of all confidential files. Then, determine the proper safeguards and deterrents. 
  • Keep physical data protected. Use a document destruction service monthly, to pick up and securely destroy confidential information that is no longer needed. 
  • Create a strong cybersecurity program that covers technology, business processes, and the people that use them. 

Hire a Healthcare compliance expert: 

Managing a healthcare organization can be overwhelming. Add to that, remaining perpetually up-to-date on all the latest rules and regulations. Protecting your data privacy and creating effective safeguards requires a lot of time and energy. Even with all the knowledge in the world, you’ll still need to implement it successfully.  

Securing thousands of patients’ data isn’t something you want to leave to chance. Having a guide to help you through the process will take a huge burden off your shoulders. It’s a relief having a technology partner that understands the healthcare industry, HIPAA compliance regulations, and all the essential cybersecurity safeguards required to protect your business. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you protect your confidential healthcare data, contact us here

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