Now more than ever, healthcare organizations find themselves on the front lines of cybersecurity battles. The records maintained by hospitals, medical practices and other healthcare providers contain extremely sensitive personal information. As healthcare organizations continue to evolve and offer innovative information sharing systems, it is more important than ever to be certain that sensitive patient information is processed and stored in a secure electronic environment.

A recent study from Kaspersky revealed that on average, a breached healthcare provider will spend up to $408 per patient to recover their personal healthcare records and up to $1.75 million in branding to help reverse reputational damages. But despite the risk of these damaging costs, 1 in 4 healthcare employees has never received cybersecurity training from their employer. In fact, 1 in 5 saw no reason to learn about the issue at work. As such, the healthcare industry remains as one of the top most breached industries in the United States.

Healthcare professionals are encouraged to take the following proactive actions towards cybersecurity:

  1. Establish a dedicated IT security team

It is essential to establish a skilled IT security team who will understand your organization’s unique security risks as well as the proper security tools required to keep your IT environment safe. With a growing number of private patient information files being electronically transferred daily, it is important to process and store patient information.

  1. Implement ongoing cybersecurity training for employees

There is a severe lack of cybersecurity training for healthcare employees which leaves a significant opening for cyberattacks as well as missteps in human error. To combat this, you must implement ongoing cybersecurity trainings for employees of all levels, specializing the trainings based on role and the most common threats employees might be challenged with.

  1. Create a clear, company-wide cybersecurity policy

Having a clear, company-wide cybersecurity policy in place is vital in order to have employees across an entire organization following the same guiding principles. Once a policy is established, it will remain important to proactively communicate the policy to employees on a regular basis to increase awareness. Annual reviews and updates should be made to the cybersecurity policy in order for the guidelines and recommended actions to remain current.

  1. Integrate technology to monitor your environment.

If your idea of cybersecurity is a firewall and anti-virus then your organization is at extreme risk. Data breaches are no longer isolated cases in today’s ever-evolving threat landscape. Anything from misconfiguration, patch lags, and unsecure software or systems can lead to unsecure breach points. Implementing technology that allows real-time security monitoring will result in actionable threat intelligence to better assess incidents and make informed decisions on how to deal with them.

Healthcare organizations must proactively promote cybersecurity awareness among employees as well implement policies and technology to be prepared for a potential cyber attack. Failure to do so could be catastrophic.