A cybercrime was reported in Australia every eight minutes in 2021. In fact, malware and ransomware attacks have surged throughout the past year, as Australians have spent more time than ever online. The pandemic has meant that more people have been using the Internet to work online, shop online, stay informed and find entertainment. Unfortunately, with greater web traffic comes a greater risk of falling victim to cybercrime.
To paint a clearer picture, an annual report from the Australian Cyber Security Centre has revealed that online crime has increased by 13% throughout the years 2020 – 21. According to this report, the estimated loss caused by cybercrime cost Australian businesses a staggering $33 billion in just twelve months.
A lucrative black market for healthcare data has also emerged, putting the privacy of millions of patients at risk and leaving Australian healthcare providers vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. However, there are critical steps you can take to protect your patients, staff, and clinic from online threats. Let’s take a look at the three primary lines of defence your business should have in place:
1. Digital Compliance
Australian healthcare providers are expected to adhere to rigorous compliance standards that should prevent patients’ private medical information from falling into the hands of cybercriminals. However, in an increasingly digital world, it can be a challenge for clinicians, practice managers, and support staff to stay up-to-date with their obligations.
To start off, conduct a thorough assessment of your current digital infrastructure and ensure your compliant hardware and software is covering your practice needs. An audit from an IT provider may reveal the need for enhanced digital security tools such as:
|Antivirus software||A program designed to detect and remove viruses and other malware hiding in your digital infrastructure.|
|Firewall updates||Just like a physical wall, a firewall establishes a barrier between your business’ internal network and any incoming traffic from external sources.|
|Remote monitoring software||A team can remotely oversee your business’ IT system so that you’re rapidly notified of any external threats or anomalies.|
|Data encryption technology||A security measure that encodes important information that can then only be unlocked with an accurate decryption ‘key’.|
|Virtual private networks||A VPN provides a safe environment to transmit sensitive information online. This reduces the likelihood of sensitive workplace data being accessed on a public/ unsecured network.|
|Device compliance||This can involve reviewing company smartphones, tablets, etc, to ensure these devices meet minimum security requirements.|
A dedicated healthcare IT provider, such as GPsupport, can audit, implement and maintain IT solutions that ensure your business is fully compliant and protected from malicious data breaches and accidental information leaks.
2. Personal Security
It may surprise you to learn that most company data breaches are accidental or non-malicious, and occur due to poor personal digital security. The term ‘personal digital security’ refers to the habits that people use (or don’t use) to protect themselves online.
In a healthcare setting, personal digital security can encompass any interactions you, your clinicians, or support staff may carry out on connected smartphones, computers, tablet devices, and more. A lack of attention to digital security can leave your business vulnerable to different types of cybercrime – such as data theft, identity fraud, extortion, and other serious breaches.
To help avoid a critical breach, evaluate the below areas to ensure you have proper protocols in place for staff, especially if they have a work-from-home setup.
|Password generators||A secure program that automatically generates passwords containing random (and therefore less predictable) series of letters, numbers, and characters for greater safety. This reduces ‘recycling’ the same passwords through multiple platforms.|
|Password managers||A secure program that stores your passwords and login credentials in an encrypted database, all locked behind a master password.|
|Multi-factor authentication||For use across all company devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs. (We’ll talk more about MFA below!)|
You may consider bringing in specialists to provide training, education, and on-demand support to help your team make the most of their IT resources and enhance your team’s everyday digital security habits.
3. Multi-factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication, commonly known as MFA, can safeguard your business from cyber threats such as brute force attacks (large scale trial-and-error) and more. A multi-layered security environment involving MFA is seen as the gold standard for digital security infrastructure.
MFA works by allowing a user access to a website, application, or platform only after successfully providing two or more pieces of evidence to substantiate their identity. There are generally two to three aspects involved in effective multi-factor authentication:
- Knowledge – something only the right user can know, such as a password or PIN.
- Possession – something only the right use can have, such as a single-use access token.
- Biometrics – something unique to the user, such as fingerprint or voice recognition.
The Australian healthcare industry, on the whole, has been somewhat slow to embrace MFA, but it’s a practical way to avoid phishing and other email-related scams, especially if you have employees using their technology and accessing data from a home environment. Having to produce multiple points of evidence to authenticate a user’s identity can deter malicious actors from stealing sensitive data.
Ultimately, the best protection against cyber threats is using a combination of optimised security technologies working together. At GPsupport, we pride ourselves on understanding the unique needs of Australia’s healthcare industry. We help practices and clinics implement compliant digital protocols that safeguard staff and patient privacy, so they can enjoy greater peace of mind.