Cybersecurity threats are nothing new for healthcare organisations, but the risks have grown more acute. The volume and sensitivity of patient data have never been higher, largely because of the digital transformation that has taken place in healthcare and the NHS.
Unfortunately, this creates more opportunities for cybercriminals to compromise sensitive data and exploit it for financial gain. Not only are hackers selling personal information on black markets, but they’re also launching ransomware attacks on hospitals, medical practices, and other healthcare organisations.
These risks aren’t going away anytime soon—in fact they will only continue to grow worse unless action is taken now to improve digital security. If your medical data has been breached you may be entitled to compensation, read more about how to claim against the NHS here. Below are some steps you might want to take if your medical data has been part of a breach.
Change Your Passwords
Passwords are the first line of defence in any online security breach. Unfortunately, many people use the same credentials across multiple accounts, which makes it easy for cybercriminals to break into multiple accounts with a single breach. People often use the same password for their email accounts, health records, and financial accounts. If any one of these accounts is compromised, hackers could use the same login credentials to access your other accounts.
Ideally, everyone would create unique, lengthy passwords for each account, but that’s not realistic. Instead, you should follow these best practices to keep your accounts secure:
- Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Don’t use words that appear in the dictionary. Instead, use a phrase that is easy to remember but difficult to guess.
- Use different passwords for each account.
- Consider using a password manager to create and store passwords for you.
- Change your passwords every six months.
Be vigilant of Phishing Attempts
Hackers may try to trick you into giving up your personal information. This is commonly referred to as phishing. Phishing emails may pretend to come from your healthcare provider, your insurance company, or even a government agency. The emails may claim they need your information to stay in compliance with new regulations, update your information, or provide you with better service.
If you receive an email that you’re not sure about, there are a few things you can do. First, check the sender’s email address to make sure it’s legitimate. If you receive an email from a healthcare provider you’ve never interacted with before, it’s possible it’s a phishing scam. Lastly, you should never give sensitive information to anyone who contacts you over email.
Data breaches are becoming increasingly common in healthcare. Whether the data is stolen directly from providers or from improperly secured devices like IoT devices or storage systems, the sensitive information of millions of people is at risk of exploitation. When a breach occurs, there are many actions individuals can take to protect themselves from the repercussions. These include changing passwords, monitoring financial accounts, being vigilant of phishing attempts, and keeping an eye on your credit report.