Healthcare security basics: 9 inexpensive ways to improve online security

Safety first

Healthcare security threats are very real, no matter the size or focus of your healthcare company. And data breaches aren’t only expensive, they can hurt your company’s reputation. Improving your online security will help keep your patient and customer records safe and intact.

Most healthcare webmasters and executives run into two main challenges when it comes to increasing healthcare security efforts.

  1. They lack the expertise to make the right decisions or establish the architecture necessary to improve their web security.
  2. They believe improving security is too expensive, so they resist the investment.

Both of these challenges are easier than you might think to overcome.

Related: What is the cybersecurity skills gap and what does it mean for your business?

9 ways to improve online healthcare security

These nine tactics can help solve for both problems:

  1. Upgrade to SSL.

  2. Invest in secure storage.

  3. Choose the right healthcare security partners.

  4. Use two-factor authentication.

  5. Train employees to choose strong passwords.

  6. Back up everything.

  7. Update your software.

  8. Revisit your privacy policy.

Read on to find out how easy it is to upgrade your security without spending a fortune.

1. Upgrade to SSL

First, consider upgrading to SSL. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which is a layer of security that establishes an encrypted link between a user’s web browser and your web server.

Think of it as a secure tunnel that prevents customer data from being seen by unauthorized users.

 

With SSL, your site’s URL will include the HTTPS designation, and in Google Chrome and other browsers, users will see a green lock next to your URL letting them know the site is secure. Plus, sites that use SSL receive a ranking boost in Google. So if you’re serious about your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts, then SSL is a no-brainer.

You can get an SSL certificate through GoDaddy, which makes it easy to upgrade your website all at once.

Related: How to choose the best SSL certificate

2. Invest in secure storage

If you need to keep your patients’ information on file, choose a storage provider that’s capable of maintaining the integrity and security of that data. Don’t keep sensitive patient information (such as Social Security numbers or health records) on your website, because if you’re working with a limited budget, you won’t have the resources necessary to build and maintain your own private data center.

Instead, your best option is to work with a third party who has a long history of providing healthcare security services to its customers.

It’s also important to maintain data privacy in email correspondence and storage. Look for a solution like HIPAA-eligible Microsoft Office 365 from GoDaddy. You can add an email archiving feature that preserves emails and attachments in a secure database — helping you with FINRA, HIPAA or other industry regulations by keeping your business in line with common email retention standards.

Related: Maintaining your site’s HIPAA compliance

Healthcare Security Surgeon
Photo: On Visual Hunt

3. Choose the right healthcare security partners

Data storage isn’t the only service you’ll need. You’ll need to find proven online partners for things like payment processing and customer relationship management (CRM).

Think of your total online security as a massive chain.

 

A vulnerable link in that chain might compromise the security of your entire chain, so it’s imperative that you hold each of your online vendors to a high standard. Ask what types of encryption they will use to secure your data and request client references so you can learn how each company has performed in the past.

Editor’s note: GoDaddy Website Security offers brand reputation monitoring, advanced security monitoring, malware removal and more.

4. Use two-factor authentication

Investing in better healthcare security for your website is a good first step, but it won’t eliminate the possibility of your customers’ data getting compromised.

If your customers lose their password or give it to an unauthorized third party, their accounts could be easily hacked.

If your patients have the ability to view their medical records, payment options or other sensitive information through your site, it’s important to use two-factor authentication, which requires users to verify their identity in multiple ways. This way, a lost password won’t be enough to make their accounts vulnerable.

Related: Increase account security with two-step verification on your mobile device

5. Train employees to choose strong passwords

Speaking of passwords, if your team members are using passwords that are easy to guess, or if they aren’t changing their passwords regularly, it might be easy for even an amateur hacker to get into your systems and collect customer information.

Train your staff to choose strong passwords, with a mix of letters, numbers and special characters, and a length as long as reasonably possible. Make sure staff members change their passwords on a regular basis, ideally quarterly.

Related: 10 best practices for creating and securing strong passwords

6. Back up everything

If you lose patient data or any other data relevant to the ongoing operation of your business, it could financially and logistically devastate your company. If your third-party service providers drop the ball, if you’re the target of a sophisticated hack, or if you’re the victim of a natural disaster, it could wipe out every last bit of your data.

Translation: Routinely back up your site and all your online data.

 

Or, better yet, use an auto-updater to ensure your data is always backed up.

Healthcare Security Wheelchair

7. Update your software

This simple step is often overlooked. Keep your site, your apps and any other internet-based systems updated at all times. When software updates are released, it isn’t just to introduce aesthetic changes.

More often, these updates are designed to improve security, protecting you against the latest iterations of known malware and possible attacks.

Missing an update could make you unnecessarily vulnerable, so make sure you’re updating automatically, or at least routinely.

8. Secure your team’s devices

If you have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, you could be putting your entire network at risk. Make sure your BYOD policy thoroughly explains the risks of a compromised device, and educate your employees on best practices so they don’t allow external parties to gain access to your private network.

9. Revisit your privacy policy

Your privacy policy won’t protect your patients or your proprietary data directly, but it will let users know how they’re being protected — and what they can expect from your organization.

While you’re in the process of changing what information you collect, how you collect it and what security measures your site has in place, now is a good time to revisit your privacy policy, and update it with accurate language.

Improving healthcare security is possible

Even if you aren’t technically savvy or don’t have a large budget to work with, it’s possible to significantly upgrade your healthcare site’s security. These simple changes have the power to guard your patients’ data and help solidify your organization’s reputation for the foreseeable future.

Image by: Sister72 On Visual Hunt