Phishing and Your Healthcare Practice: What You Need to Know

There is no denying that the healthcare sector is one of the most targeted industries when it comes to cybercriminals. According to statistics that have been compiled via the HIPAA Journal, there have been over 2,500 healthcare data breaches between the years of 2009 and 2018 that included more than 500 records being breached. This equated to a total of 189,945,874 records being stolen and exposed during these breaches. To put this into perspective, it means that 59 per cent of the population in the United States will have had their health records or personal data stolen. Healthcare data breaches are being reported on a daily basis, and this is why it is imperative for Chicago healthcare providers to make the most of the healthcare IT services that are available so that you can protect your business. However, you can’t simply turn a blind eye. It is important that you have an understanding regarding the risks your business faces so that you can educate your employees. Educating employees will empower them to spot cyber attacks and enable them to make proper decisions, steering clear of mistakes that could be extremely costly. In this guide, we are going to take a look at one of these risks in further detail; phishing. Read on to discover everything you need to know about it.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a tactic that cybercriminals can use in order to gain access to networks so that they can infect them with ransomware and/or steal patient data. It is a form of cybercrime that involves targeting people by sending them emails, text messages, or telephone calls. This is used to try and lure individuals into providing sensitive data. The cybercriminal will pose as a legitimate institution in order to try and extract personally identifiable information, for example, passwords, credit card details, and banking information.

There are a number of different features that the vast majority of phishing emails tend to have in common. This includes the following:

  • An unusual sender. If the email looks like something unknown, employees need to be cautious. Also, they should always check the email address carefully. A lot of the time, phishing emails are sent from addresses that look very similar to recognisable organisations, yet if you look closer, they are spelt differently.
    Attachments. People should never open attachments that they were not expecting; they will often contain viruses.
  • Hyperlinks. Whenever a hyperlink is incorporated into an email, employees should hover their mouse over it, as this will show where the hyperlink is going to take them too. Again, look out for spelling mishaps with this one to be sure you don’t end up clicking on something you should not.
  • Sense of urgency. A lot of the phishing emails used will have a real sense of urgency. This is because cybercriminals want you to act fast so you don’t have time to think about your actions.
  • Too good to be true. The vast majority of phishing emails seem too good to be true, and that is because they are.

Of course, this just relates to phishing emails. As mentioned, phishing can also occur via telephone and via text message. You have probably heard about the common scenario over telephone whereby the person on the other line tries to convince you to allow them to have remote access to your computer or they state you are eligible for some form of compensation. Employees need to be savvy and they should never give out personal details.

How can you minimize the risk of phishing?

There are a number of different steps that you can take to minimize the risk of phishing. One of the most important things you need to do is make sure your employees are educated about the risk. An employee training program administered through an IT service company can help minimize risk. This is an essential part of HIPAA Compliance. If your business becomes a victim of a phishing attack and it is shown that you did not take the steps to educate your employees and prevent this from happening, you could find yourself at a huge risk of fines and your reputation could be in tatters.

However, it is important that you do not instill the task of employee training to any old firm. You need to make sure that they have plenty of experience and that they understand the nature of your business. An IT company that specializes in Healthcare will understand the complexities and security compliance regulations you face. They will be able to provide training that is bespoke to your business. This is important, as general security businesses do not often understand the unique challenges that those in the healthcare sector face.

Aside from employee training, there are a number of other things that can be done to ensure that your business is protected from the risk of phishing. This includes using spam filters. Spam filters can be very helpful in terms of preventing spam emails from getting into your inbox. However, they don’t offer the same luxury when it comes to phone calls. It is also advisable to assess your browser settings. You need to make sure that your features are customized so that fraudulent websites are prevented from being opened. Fake websites are kept on file by browsers so that when you try to access such a site, an alert message is shown or the website is automatically blocked.

All things considered, it is not hard to see that all healthcare businesses and organizations need to take cybercrime threat very seriously today. Healthcare organizations are regularly being targeted by cybercriminals because they hold a wealth of lucrative data. This shows why you need to ensure you have effective defences in place. One of the key elements of this is educating your employees and providing them with the right level of training. After all, your employees are going to be the target when it comes to phishing tactics, and so you need to make sure that they are not a weakness for your organization.

If you’re interested in our employee training programs or about minimizing your IT risks in general, please feel free to contact us. We provide IT Services to Healthcare offices all over Chicago.