Until now, we have become accustomed to regular cyber attacks where hackers steal information or money. But with the advent of killware — software that can cause severe damage and target human life — there’s a new enemy to guard against. Killware hacker aims to attack healthcare facilities or places like police departments, power grids and dams.
Delivering quality patient care online and ensuring privacy is a challenge for any developer trying to create a healthcare app. You must comply with the regulations of the GDPR and HIPAA guidelines. It is also important for users to know that their data is completely safe and does not fall into the wrong hands.
How is data protected?
The first line of defense is limited access to data and permissions. Access controls restrict who can see sensitive information such as patient records and biometric results. It ensures that only doctors or nurses can see them when necessary for observation or analysis.
Before the data can be viewed, doctors have to go through several authentication processes such as PIN, password, card, key, fingerprint, face recognition or eye scan. As a guarantee, they always have to go through two verification processes before they can look at the data.
Data Usage Controls
In addition to access controls, there are data usage controls. This goes beyond access to ensure no virus can infiltrate the system. Suppose malware tries to get through as a seemingly ordinary document. In this case, there are monitoring tools that will report it immediately. Suspicious activity includes anything related to interacting with external drives, unauthorized emails, and web uploads. Each file that passes through is identified and tagged before being protected.
Monitoring and logging of usage
Because a healthcare facility is a central hub, the software they use has multiple layers of operations. Business partners and vendors constantly monitor what users are doing. It includes all the devices that have access to the software, where they are using it and what type of information they are looking at.
All of these activities are logged and later used for audit purposes. This helps developers identify if an area needs more protection. If at some point an error or incident happens, these logs can pinpoint exactly what happened, minimizing damage.
All data stored in health apps is encrypted. This means that even if hackers gain access to the database, they will only see jumbled up words, numbers, and special characters. In order for the information to make sense again, a unique code must be used. In most cases, this makes it impossible for cyber attackers to steal patient records or sensitive information.
Mobile device backup
Medical workers have not been immune to the smartphone revolution. They are increasingly using these devices as their primary method of communication. Not only that, they also access sensitive data through mobile phones that have several security flaws.
Giving permission when downloading apps could potentially reveal confidential information. Tik Tok is best known for keeping track of sensitive data. Because of this, mobile users must be extremely careful when installing apps and only do so for apps that have been previously whitelisted or pre-screened.
Android devices have more security disadvantages compared to iOS users. This makes it easier for hackers to hijack the code and see what’s happening inside. This is one of the reasons why an Android VPN is a recommended tool in healthcare facilities.
Hospitals often have free WiFi that hackers can use for man-in-the-middle attacks. If their attack is successful, they can access all emails, passwords, credit card information, and patient records. VPNs serve to encrypt an IP address and make an attack impossible for cyber attackers.
Mitigating the risks of connected devices
Smartphones are not the only burden when it comes to security. Internet of Things devices are incredibly insecure. This applies to intelligent locks, cameras or blood pressure monitors. They must function on a separate network with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication to protect them. A team of professionals constantly monitors them in case the activity level changes and updates the software as needed.
The least secure element in any computer network is the human. Negligence or simply a mistake can have serious consequences for an organization. Because of this, employees are constantly updated on the latest practices so they don’t make wrong decisions. Patient information is extremely important and must always be kept confidential.
If all data is in one place, it can be compromised. Let’s assume that a hospital keeps all patient records as paper copies and on its local server. The consequences could become irreparable if a fire breaks out or a natural disaster occurs. The data is not only stored locally, but also in another secure location that is not close to the site. Of course, all information is encrypted during file transfer and storage.
Regular risk assessment
Last but not least, there are risk assessments. Testing your defenses is the optimal way to look for flaws, weaknesses and weaknesses. New hacks emerge every day, and proactive prevention protects healthcare providers from penalties and reputational damage.