With the exception of human error, by and large patients have been able to feel completely safe and secure about their personal medical histories being kept confidential. This sentiment is shared by most patients, mainly because a widespread breach of medical information has never occurred in the U.S. As hackers have gotten more sophisticated, so have firewalls. As new programs designed to crack passwords have emerged and sometimes fallen into the wrong hands, internet security specialists have been patching security vulnerabilities. That is, until ransomware emerged. Hospital employees with a masters in healthcare management have been left flabbergasted by the idea that their patient and personnel information could be at risk, by way of an unseen threat.
Is Online Patient Data Safe?
Just under a year ago, a serious security issue emerged when a major hospital on the West Coast learned that all of its important files were corrupted, inaccessible, and being put up for ransom. The culprits never stepped inside of the actual hospital, but they were able to make off with $10,000 from the well-known medical facility. The scariest part is that the hackers are still at large, and it is unlikely that their true identities will ever be learned. Even with those events in consideration, the fact is that online patient data is still safe. If the hospital in question was better prepared, it wouldn’t have ever had to have thought about paying a ransom. More importantly, hospital administrators would have never been frightened by the idea of losing patient files because there would’ve been a copy elsewhere.
Technological Changes Designed to Improve Web Security
Hardware companies that manufacture computers and equipment for medical professionals have already made some major changes to their security features. The machines that deliver oxygen and alert staff when hearts stop beating are now online, and they are powerful. Hospital employees are learning how to use this medical equipment fully for the first time ever. Hospital administrators are asking important questions about web security for the first time, and they are not taking second chances on patient security any longer. Those with an online masters healthcare management degree know just enough about web security to understand how these breaches might occur, but not enough to be able to fight it on their own.
What Happens Next?
Hospitals that have the funding have already begun to make the switch from old equipment that might be more likely to put patient data at risk to improved hardware with newer security features. Other hospitals are using other less expensive, and perhaps even more viable solutions, like simply backing up data and having professional internet technicians monitoring their firewalls day and night. With yet another medical facility being targeted by hackers recently, hospital administrators have to really have faith in the measures they have been putting in place, as well as their ability to make sound decisions.
Internet security is changing fast. People are just as at risk of having their home PCs infiltrated and infected by ransomware, spyware, viruses and key-loggers, and medical facilities are just the latest in a long list of targets that hackers have developed. Stolen personal records have been used as leverage by hackers for decades now, and eventually they will find another industry with historically lax security parameters in place to go after.