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Secure medical data using a comprehensive strategy

Medical data protection has become a big issue in the digital age when cyberattacks are becoming more prevalent, even as more and more patient data is being gathered.

A national electronic health record (EHR) database is under development, while the government has provided additional funds and incentives to healthcare professionals who adopt electronic medical systems. This national health information infrastructure will put data interoperability and patient data security at the forefront.

This includes stringent rules for patient data protection, where any organization that deals with protected health information (PHI) must have physical, network and process security measures in place to ensure compliance with respective legislation.

Securing data on a smaller office scale

Many small businesses operate out of more than one location and often across multiple devices, IT platforms and even networks. This means their security needs to cover desktop computers, mobile devices and tablets, USB drives, networks and servers.

It also means having backup systems in case data is lost, and usually involves running security programs across different desktop, mobile and online platforms.

A good solution should start with anti-virus software on all networked devices and should also include endpoint security, mobile security, remote management, two-factor authentication, encryption, and file and email security. There are also programs that can pre-empt cyberattacks by anticipating and shielding businesses against threats such as viruses, malware, data leaks and all the risks associated with them.

Storing information in a cloud-based service may seem like a good way to pass off some of your data security concerns to your cloud provider, but there are protocol and compatibility issues you should check out before you store large amounts of information in the cloud.

Put your security systems to the test

The first part of your cybersecurity plan should involve a complete assessment of your IT infrastructure, and one of the best methods is to conduct a penetration test. This is a ‘friendly’ attack on your system to find security weaknesses. While it can be done manually, there are tools that can automate the process. A comprehensive test should cover all major platforms and formats such as web applications, networks and servers.

Running a comprehensive penetration test will give you a good idea of the state of your data protection, but it’s also a good idea to speak to your internet provider to see what security measures they have in place. Additionally, your security product provider should be able to do a comprehensive analysis of your data defences.

The goal is to ensure your system is protected against attack – the money you spend on security is an investment that will protect you against the potentially much greater financial and reputational losses from a data breach.