How to Handle a Data Breach at Your Nursing Home
Data breaches in any healthcare setting cause serious problems. As technology gets more and more advanced, patient and resident data migrate onto computer networks. While this digital system provides benefits, it also brings a substantial risk for breaches that compromises nursing home data or cyber attacks at other healthcare facilities.
Using preventative measures and proper response techniques can help keep sensitive data secure.
How to Prevent Cyber Breaches
One of the best ways to handle a data breach is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Cybersecurity measures help prevent breaches before they occur. Several proactive measures you can take include:
- Analyze current risk: Examine areas where your cybersecurity is weak. If you have vulnerabilities, risk analysis can help you detect issues early and put a stop to them before a hacker can enter your network. This assessment is especially vital in the healthcare industry for HIPAA compliance.
- Teach your employees: Educate your personnel on the signs of a cyber threat and the issues they pose to HIPAA compliance. Your employees should know the signs of attacks, such as suspicious links, and understand the consequences if a hacker breaches HIPAA-protected information.
- Limit access to data: Put permission limits on all of your employees. Your staff should only be allowed to reach the data and information they need to do their jobs. Restrict all other data using permission controls.
- Use data encryption services: Protect your data from outside sources with data encryption. Encryption helps keep prying eyes out of the sensitive information in a healthcare system.
There are numerous ways to prevent data breaches, including these promising examples. Engage in these and other cybersecurity best practices to avoid cybersecurity attacks. However, whether you use all of these measures or not, you may still experience a data breach.
Long-Term Healthcare Data Breach Services
Data breaches happen quite often, even occurring in healthcare settings that engage in robust cybersecurity tactics. If an attack happens at your nursing home, what is the best course of action? There are several steps you should take immediately upon recognizing that your data has been breached.
Initiate Your Incident Response Plan
The first step following a data breach is to start your response plan, which you should create ahead of time. IT services and other staff members should know what to do to stop hackers from stealing information if possible. They should also know the proper way to gather evidence and keep operating even if certain systems are down.
Make Conclusive Decisions
You should make quick and important decisions now that you've initiated your data breach response plan. Having an incident response plan should help you figure out the order in which to follow these steps. However, even if you don't have an incident response plan ready, you can make good decisions to protect your data. Do the following:
- Change passwords or other login credentials.
- Disconnect from the web.
- Disconnect access points.
- Write down every action you take, including information about the breach and how you became aware of it.
- Quarantine malware as evidence.
Announce the Data Breach
After you've made the initial response, you should consider how to notify the public and any affected individuals. Patients and residents deserve to know that their protected health information may be exposed. You should have a designated spokesperson for data breaches.
When deciding what to say and when, there are several factors to consider. You only have about 60 days to notify the public of a breach. However, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that you'll damage your reputation. Your patients and residents are likely to find out about the data breach through news media or another platform. If you've said nothing, they're more likely to grow distrustful of you.
Be decisive and honest about what you say. People respond better to the truth, even if you don't have much information yet.
Repair and Replace
You'll need to patch any systems that were damaged or breached during the attack. Run test to make sure everything is secured. Ensure your network, systems and response plan are all updated, especially if you noticed any faults in your incident response plan.
If your plan has shortcomings — or if you didn't have one to begin with — you should consider updating or developing a new one. Bring your repaired systems back online and start to prepare for the next potential data breach. Cyber attacks are here to stay, though you can prepare for one with coordinated prevention and response strategies.
Respond to Cybersecurity Breaches With Prelude Services
Prelude Services can help you prevent and respond to data breaches in your nursing home or other healthcare facilities. We offer network and software support to help you stay up-to-date and secure. Please contact us today for more information about how we handle cybersecurity for the healthcare industry.
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