How hospitals can protect patient information this holiday season

By | February 27, 2021

With the holidays upon us, and the whole world ready to let loose after a difficult year, your hospital and its employees are likely to experience an influx of patients.

You’ll need all hands on deck and your internal computer networks running smoothly to care for people at the level they deserve. The last thing you want to worry about is losing data or putting patients at risk due to an unexpected cyberattack.

Here are three steps you can take to protect your hospital’s computer network and ensure your colleagues continue their life-saving work without interruption.

Invest in Antivirus Protection

It’s essential to invest in antivirus protection for your PC or Mac endpoints so information can flow efficiently and securely to the appropriate medical wings. Your program of choice should offer encryption technology that shields your data from ransomware, spyware, and any zero-day threats as they come online. It should also be lightweight, keeping your network fast enough to accommodate time-sensitive medical results.

If your hospital is of great size, it’s likely that staff use many different kinds of software that continually run the risk of becoming out of date. This can invite hackers to exploit old software and infect your devices. You can solve this with antivirus software designed to proactively sift these exploits out and dispose of them without inhibiting your productivity.

Invest in a VPN

The best way to keep patient information safe, especially if it’s stored in the cloud, is to connect your hospital’s network to the Internet through a VPN, or Virtual Private Network.

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While free VPNs often come bloated with malware, companies like Malwarebytes have dependable cybersecurity solutions suited for organizations of any size — without any bloatware. Their VPNs will not only provide you with an anonymous Internet connection to keep medical records confidential, they’ll also prevent hackers from intercepting user information through 24/7 monitoring.

Take Training Seriously

When the pressure is on, and patients are filling up your waiting rooms, your hospital staff will fall back on their training to properly execute their procedures. Unfortunately, cybersecurity training often—and understandably—takes a backseat to the juggle between life and death every hospital experiences.

That said, it doesn’t take much effort to get informed. Cover the following fundamentals at your next institution-wide meeting and start building cybersecurity into your workplace culture today.

  • The basic traits of an untrustworthy email like unknown senders, misspellings, and convoluted links
  • How to tell if you’re talking to a bot or a real human being, which is easily ascertained by asking open-ended questions the bot won’t be programmed to answer
  • The steps healthcare staff need to take before sending potentially compromising information, such as changing an email’s classification from internal to confidential

These fundamentals are only the beginning of an ongoing discussion that will help prevent network security breaches from happening. There’s no better time than today to get started.

Your main goal this holiday season is to get patients home as quickly as possible so they can spend quality time with their families, and hopefully open their Christmas gifts on time. Make that goal a reality by educating your staff, securing your hospital’s Internet connection, and by not settling for anything less than the best-rated real-time antivirus protection.

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