6 Healthcare Email Security Best Practices
Patients’ data that includes personal health information is a common target for cybercriminals. The healthcare industry still relies on email as the primary means to exchange patient information, hence email security is a must for guarding against hackers.
This article will review six healthcare email security best practices to keep your critical data safe.
Educate Users on Phishing Dangers
Phishing is still a tried-and-true attack that many hackers favor. Cybercriminals often prefer phishing attacks because they are simple to execute. Hackers send emails with malicious links or attachments and wait for targets to share their login credentials or other sensitive data.
When it comes to healthcare email security, phishing attacks are even more severe. Many healthcare providers and other organizations store vast volumes of protected healthcare information (PHI) and financial data, which hackers can steal and sell on the dark web. Hackers can also use phishing attacks to access employees’ accounts and set up ransomware attacks that lock out all system users, interrupting operations for hours or even days.
Today, some cybercriminals target specific individuals through spear phishing to acquire financial data, health records, and other sensitive information. In a spear phishing attack, hackers focus on employees with access to this information, such as human resources and high-level executives. They might even spoof a person’s identity to gain access to other protected data.
Require Strong Passwords
Hackers often gain access to email accounts via social engineering, keylogging malware, or brute-force attacks.
To deter hackers from attacking your accounts, you should require that all accounts have strong passwords consisting of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. We recommend using a password generator to create random, unique, long passwords that are harder to crack.
Many healthcare organizations have started using two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add another layer of protection to their healthcare email security.
With MFA, a user must prove their identity before accessing their account, usually by entering a temporary passcode sent to their mobile device when logging into their account. This means that even if a hacker somehow guesses your username and password, they still won’t be able to access your account.
Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Tools
Many incidents that involve data leak happen as a result of simple human error. Employees accidentally share sensitive data when they copy recipients in emails that should not have access to the data. These can be prevented by deploying DLP tools that monitor the users credentials, their activity and the context of the email.
Not only does implementing a DLP solution bolster the security posture of your email service but it also helps meet regulatory and compliance requirements. DLP is perceived as a complex technology to deploy - ensure that you evaluate the latest products in the market to make the configuration and deployment easy for your team.
Provide Security Awareness Training
The 2021 Verizon DBIR found 66 percent of breaches in the healthcare sector involved compromised personal data. Because healthcare organizations handle financial data, medical records, and other sensitive information, they are particularly vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. Even with the right cybersecurity strategy, just one account takeover could put your entire organization at risk.
To ensure that your cybersecurity measures work, implement security awareness training for all employees, including senior management and executives. Although general security awareness training can be effective at improving healthcare email security, it is better to create a customized training program that addresses your organization's unique risks.
Below are some security awareness best practices to help you get started:
- Avoid clicking links, images, or attachments that you aren’t expecting
- Report suspicious emails to your IT department
- Keep up with software updates to prevent system vulnerabilities
- Simulate phishing attacks and other Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks to test employees’ training
- Involve end users by implementing real time contextual warning banners
Monitor Systems 24/7
When it comes to protecting your clients' data security, you must ensure that any platform or channel containing sensitive information is safe. To oversee the security of your networks effectively, you must monitor them 24/7 to detect and prevent email threats before they impact your organization.
However, if your team doesn't work 24/7, how can you maintain your healthcare email security? This is where email security tools come in handy.
Use Email Security Tools
Even with security awareness training and other cybersecurity measures, your email security can still be vulnerable. In addition, the increase in telehealth services has enabled more healthcare workers to access their email accounts remotely, introducing more access points to your network.
By using layered security tools like Armorblox, you can improve your healthcare email security while ensuring compliance with HIPAA and other regulations.
At Armorblox, we use the power of Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to help healthcare organizations communicate more securely over email. Our software analyzes thousands of data points to understand the content and context of email communications and stop email attacks that get past Google and Microsoft security measures.
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