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Steps healthcare providers can take to prevent cyber attacks

Steps healthcare providers can take to prevent cyber attacks

There are several ways that a healthcare provider can safeguard their patient records against a ransomware or cyber attack, but the most important strategy is to get cyber liability insurance, as the insurer usually helps healthcare providers implement most of the strategies shown below.

1. Back up important data

There are several ways that healthcare providers can back up important data, such as patient records, to protect against loss in the event of a ransomware or cyber attack:

  1. Cloud-based backups: Cloud-based backups, such as using services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud, can provide an off-site location to store backups. This ensures that even if the primary location is compromised, the backups will still be accessible.
  2. Using external hard drives: Backing up data to an external hard drive, such as a USB drive, can provide a physical copy of the data that can be stored off-site.
  3. Using tape backups: Tape backups are a traditional method of data storage that can provide a physical copy of the data that can be stored off-site.

Using one of the above systems for backups, there are two different ways of backing up your data. Either backing up your entire system, so it can be restored, or only backing up changes.

  1. Image-based backups: Image-based backups create an exact copy of the entire operating system, application, and data at a specific point in time. This can be useful for quickly restoring a system to a known good state in the event of an attack. The downside is that it takes a lot more space.
  2. Incremental and differential backups: This type of backups saves only the changes made since the last backup, which is faster, more efficient and uses less room, but is also more complex to restore.

It’s important to note that it’s not just enough to backup the data, but it’s also necessary to have a well-defined and tested plan for restoring the data in case of a disaster. This plan should include the procedures to test the integrity of the backups, and the procedures to restore them.

2. Use strong passwords

Having strong passwords is an important aspect of protecting patient records from unauthorized access. Here are some tips for setting and remembering strong passwords:

  1. Use a long password: Passwords should be at least 12 characters long, the longer the better.
  2. Use a mix of characters: Passwords should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
  3. Avoid using personal information: Passwords should not include personal information, such as your name, address, or date of birth.
  4. Use passphrases: Instead of using a single word, consider using a passphrase, which is a sequence of words or other text. Passphrases can be easier to remember and harder to crack than a single word.
  5. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts: It’s important to use different passwords for different accounts to reduce the risk of multiple accounts being compromised if one password is discovered.
  6. Use a password manager: A password manager is a software application that helps generate and store complex passwords. This way you can have different, strong passwords for all your accounts, and you just need to remember one master password to access the password manager.
  7. Consider multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a fingerprint scan or a code sent to your phone, in addition to a password.
  8. Update your passwords regularly: Regularly updating passwords can help protect against unauthorized access if a password is discovered.

3. Cybersecurity best practices training

It’s important to train staff in cybersecurity best practices and there are many online courses that cover this topic. These courses can be found on various platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, edX, and others.

They are also offered by universities, institutions, and companies and can be taken at your own pace. Some popular topics covered in these courses include network security, threat intelligence, incident response, and compliance.

Some examples of courses include

  1. “Introduction to Cybersecurity” offered by the University of Colorado,
  2. “Cybersecurity Fundamentals” offered by the International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology (IACSIT) and
  3. “Cybersecurity Awareness” offered by the International Association of Cyber Security Professionals (IACSP).

4. Use reputable security software and services

here are many reputable security software and services available on the market. Here are a few examples:

  1. Firewall: A firewall is a security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. Examples of reputable firewall software and services include:
    1. Cisco ASA
    2. Check Point
    3. Fortinet FortiGate
    4. Juniper SRX
  2. Antivirus: Antivirus software is used to detect and remove malware from computers and other devices. Some reputable antivirus software and services include:
    1. Norton
    2. McAfee
    3. Kaspersky
    4. Trend Micro
  3. Endpoint Protection: Endpoint protection software is used to secure endpoints such as laptops, desktops, and servers. Some reputable endpoint protection software and services include:
    1. Symantec Endpoint Protection
    2. McAfee Endpoint Security
    3. Trend Micro OfficeScan
    4. Sophos Endpoint Protection
  4. Identity and Access Management (IAM) :IAM solutions are used to manage and secure user identities and access to resources. Some reputable IAM solutions include:
    1. Okta
    2. Microsoft Azure Active Directory
    3. OneLogin
    4. Auth0
  5. Cloud Security: Cloud Security solutions and services are used to protect data and resources in cloud environments. Some reputable Cloud Security solutions and services include:
    1. AWS Security Hub
    2. Azure Security Center
    3. Google Cloud Security
    4. Symantec Cloud Security

It is important to note that the specific security software and services that are best for an organization will depend on its unique needs and requirements. It’s best to consult with cybersecurity professionals to identify the best solutions for your organization.

5. Get cyber liability insurance

Insurance companies that offer cyber liability insurance typically provide a number of support services to their policyholders. Some of these services can include:

  1. Risk assessment: Insurance companies may provide policyholders with an assessment of their current cyber risks, identify potential vulnerabilities and recommend steps to mitigate them.
  2. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Companies often provide resources and guidance to help policyholders comply with laws and regulations related to data privacy and security, such as HIPAA, SOC2, and others.
  3. Crisis response: Many insurance companies offer a crisis response service to help policyholders deal with a cyber incident. This can include providing guidance on how to contain and mitigate the incident, as well as helping to restore normal operations.
  4. Data recovery and business interruption: Insurance companies may help policyholders recover lost data and/or provide coverage for lost income in case of a cyber-attack.
  5. Cybersecurity training and awareness: Some insurance companies offer training and awareness programs to help policyholders better understand and manage their cyber risks.
  6. Cyber security incident management and forensics: Many insurance companies will provide incident management and forensic services to help understand the cyber-attack, the extent of the damage and the steps needed to recover.

Coverage and support services may vary depending on the policy and the insurance company. Talk to Dale at Westwood now to find the policy that best suits your organization.


There are several ways that a healthcare provider can safeguard their patient records against a ransomware or cyber attack:

  1. Regularly back up important data.
  2. Use strong passwords and encryption.
  3. Keep software and systems up to date.
  4. Train employees on cybersecurity best practices.
  5. Implement a incident response plan.
  6. Use a reputable security software and services.
  7. Perform regular security audits and
  8. Get cyber liability insurance and you may find that the insurance company will help you with all the other steps listed above.

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