With the recent spike in data breaches, there is no better time than now for healthcare agencies to take a deeper look at the security policies and controls they currently have in place to protect data. With healthcare organizations leading the way on both (1) most targeted and (2) costliest breaches, now is a critical time to evaluate how well your organization is responding to the imminent threat.
If you are wondering what kind of cost range these breaches provoke, brace yourself. According to the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report, healthcare agencies top the list for the ninth year in a row with an average cost of $6.45 million per breach. That’s a whopping 60% more than the average of all other industries.
How do you know if you are a likely target? If you manage a healthcare agency, you are automatically a prime target. However, if you lack a security governance policy or don’t adhere to it, you are even more likely to become a victim of a malicious attack.
Some potential risks include hacking or an IT incident, unauthorized access or disclosure, as well as theft. The cost of a breach adds up for smaller agencies too, and one breach could close their doors for good. Many organizations think they can fly under the radar of hackers, but unfortunately cyber attackers don’t discriminate against operational size. Many times the smaller agencies with less sophisticated mechanisms in place make for easy targets.
Aside from patient record costs, organizations can face hefty legal fees, financial penalties and lost revenue due to operational downtime in wake of the security breach. A Protected Health Information (PHI) hack can significantly damage an organization’s reputation, causing loss of business and notoriety among the community.
Over 35 million records were exposed this year alone – that’s about the size of the population of California. With so many people’s personal medical history at stake, the loss of client trust plays a big factor in the cost of a data breach. While your agency may remain solvent after an attack, it could impact the future growth of the organization for many years to come.
You may be asking yourself, where do I begin to ensure I have a strong security policy?
Much like planning a big trip, few people would try to drive from New York to California without a map. Having a security governance policy in place is an important part of managing an organization that handles PHI, and you cannot afford to go without a security roadmap. The alternative is too risky.
The first step in building out your security governance framework is understanding where you are and what you need to get where you want to go. A security assessment will identify any major gaps you might have around security and provide a starting point for building out your strategy. Having a baseline report will help you know where to direct focus and invest budget.
Many times, organizations will piecemeal their security and add certain measures here and there, but security best practices involve having a comprehensive plan that works in cohesion. When it comes to creating a security plan, you need to not only actively work to protect against breaches, but also devise a roadmap for how your organization can mitigate risk and react to current and evolving security threats.
In this series we will take a closer look at cybersecurity solutions to detect and protect, and the importance of having a business continuity plan in place should an incident occur.
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