How to Protect Healthcare Data: 5 Cybersecurity Tips for MSPs

Contributed by: Meaghan Moraes, Blog and Social Media Manager at Continuum

For MSPs serving clients in the healthcare industry, protecting data can be complex. With compliance enforcement like HIPAA , for instance, distinguishing the owner of your clients’ data is critical —especially due to the lack of security awareness training amidst healthcare end users. The 2018 Cloud Security In-depth Report by Netwrix shows that 55% of healthcare organizations rated their own employees as the biggest security risk. In fact, according to the recently published Verizon PHI Data Breach Report, 58% of healthcare data breach incidents involve insiders, the highest percentage of insider threats in any industry.

In this post, you will learn the five key data security tips to better protect SMB clients in healthcare, ultimately enabling your posture as a trusted healthcare Information Technology (IT) security partner.

Why Risk Mitigation Hinges on Data Ownership

Oftentimes, business owners believe that the IT team is responsible for data security. The reality is that the company’s owner, Board of Directors, Managing Partner, CEO, President, or CFO are whom will get dragged into litigation after a data breach. They are considered the owners of the data, they also approve budget for cybersecurity, and have the responsibility to protect data. And it is they who will be asked to show what steps they took towards due care in protecting their clients’ data.

This distinction is extremely important for the healthcare industry, and for MSPs to understand as you work to avoid and prevent breaches of this sensitive data. Here are some important places to start.

1. Manage Your Network

At this stage in the evolution of cybersecurity and managed services, it’s crucial that you have the advanced tools to help identify the current inventory of devices on your clients’ networks and are notified when new devices are added — enabling network visibility.

With managed SIEM services and 24/7 support from cybersecurity experts, you’ll have real-time alerting, network logs, and activity monitoring to help you demonstrate healthcare compliance.

2. Apply Patches and Software Updates

Implementing incremental patching and software updates are key steps in preventing cyber attacks and mitigating risk. This helps ensure the highest levels of security are upheld, from the MSP, to the healthcare data owner, to the end user.

3. Allow Limited Access

Access to sensitive and critical data should remain on a need-to-know-basis, and users with access should only be able to see information critical to their jobs. You should also make sure to automatically remove access when it’s no longer needed.

There’s an even greater emphasis on limiting access for end users in healthcare. For example, healthcare professionals who need to access a patient's electronic health records through a clinical portal should be following a protocol to ensure the information is only accessed by those who have permission to view it. Access to health data should be restricted to authorized staff, and this access should be reviewed frequently. In addition, the system should employ multi-factor authentication (MFA) and access control lists for administrative access to the system.

4. Enhance Security Awareness Training

While one simple click on the wrong link is all it takes for an environment to become infected, many of these threats can be easily avoided with the right level of education. Offering training courses is an inexpensive way to reinforce your defenses by providing your employees with the means to recognize and report suspected attacks such as phishing and malware.

5. Work with a Trusted Partner to Enhance Data Protection

Outsourcing cybersecurity services and employing advanced tools built for MSPs will help you ensure your healthcare security strategy is strong and that your clients’ data is safe, while freeing up your own employees so they can focus on other business priorities.

With advanced threats continuing to permeate the healthcare industry, your clients in this space will continue to turn to your expertise and ultimately, your security protections. With these tactics in place, data ownership and risk status will remain clear.