5 Best Practices to Avoid Security Risks

Although several industries, including education and health care, make up a significant percentage of yearly data breach counts, credit unions and banks are more prone to this risk. As per the Identity Theft Resource Center, the financial/banking/credit sector totaled 5.8% of the total data breaches in 2017.

This is up 2 percent from the first half of 2016, a bigger rise compared to every industry sector except healthcare and business. Data breaches are widespread in the healthcare sector as well. This puts patients’ sensitive and confidential medical records at risk, whether the concerned organization is small or large, affecting people at every level of a data breach.


1.     Drive better Risk Assessment

Closely assess your online transactions as well as the level of risk they pose by kind of transaction and user group to devise effective risk mitigation strategies.

Make sure that you assess particular attributes like customer type, ease of use, volume and capability of your specific transaction methods, existing security and information sensitivity, and the overall customer experience, as well as how mobile devices interact with your environment.

It is important to consider not just your financial losses, but corporate risk, liability, and reputational damage as well. And do not just do this once in a blue moon. It should be an ongoing process.

This risk assessment would help you map out potential impacts as well as the security service levels that you require.


2.     Encrypt Portable Devices

Note that in the past couple of years, many data and security breaches have happened because a portable storage or computing device containing protected financial or health information was stolen or lost.

One important thing healthcare and financial organizations should do to avert those breaches is to encrypt all portable devices that may hold patient or financial data. This includes laptops, tablets, smartphones, as well as portable USB drives.

Apart from providing encrypted devices to employees, it is also important to have a stringent policy regarding storing data on unencrypted personal devices.


3.     Educate Employees on Security Risks

Even though healthcare and financial organizations may have stellar and reliable employees, human error can always cause security issues. Whether due to malicious actions or negligence, employees are sometimes involved in healthcare and financial data breaches.

Proper training on security protocols, regulations—and timely support for staff using mobile devices—could help minimize these errors while improving overall security. Training should include:

  • What does and does not constitute a HIPAA violation
  • Effective lessons to help avoid social engineering, phishing, and other attacks which often target employees
  • Advice and guidance on choosing secure passwords.

In addition, employees must only have the information which is necessary to perform their job—keep in mind that the fewer places sensitive data is stored, the safer it is. Data minimization is one of the powerful elements of preparedness. When an employee leaves the organization, the human resource department should suspend their access to sensitive and confidential data.

4.     Vendor Management

Although a majority of vendors provide performance and risk management reports, small firms usually report that they do not have the necessary power to negotiate effectively with bigger players in the industry. Risks from vendors need to be addressed as well as constantly assessed and vetted.

You can apply pre-set standards at different stages which vendors usually go through such as planning, selection, due diligence, contract negotiations, ongoing relationships, and more importantly termination.


5.     Patch Systems and Medical Devices

Patches are important to keep systems operating at optimal levels. Keep in mind that they are usually used as a vital method to keep data secure as un-patched systems might no longer be appropriately supported.

It is worth mentioning that without a system patch, hackers could easily find weak spots that can be exploited, making breaches more likely. Unfortunately, a lot of systems don’t have effective automatic patching in place. This is because it requires more resources and time to update.

Patching organizational systems is an ongoing maintenance issue which could be costly. However, it is less expensive than a data breach.

While a majority of IT security threats that healthcare organizations usually face also impact organizations in other industries, healthcare providers have another important risk: the threat of monitoring tools, pacemakers, and other electronic medical gadgets being hacked.

As a result, one step healthcare information technology departments must take is to keep the software on these devices up to date and patched to minimize their vulnerabilities.

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