Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week

By Nam Nguyen, Vice Chair
EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) will use this opportunity to share helpful reminders of cybersecurity fundamentals throughout the month. 

The 2020 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey provides a look into cybersecurity issues facing US healthcare organizations. Based upon the feedback from 168 US-based healthcare cybersecurity professionals, “Cybersecurity budgets are still lacking with typically 6% or less of the information technology budget allocated for this purpose. A large attack surface exists within many healthcare organizations due to the profound lack of resources.”

Even as cyberattacks are increasing exponentially, businesses including healthcare organizations are facing another significant risk –  a shortage of available, qualified cybersecurity professionals. 

According to the fifth annual global study of cybersecurity professionals by the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), more than 57% of organizations have been negatively impacted by the “cybersecurity skills crisis.” Of the professionals surveyed by ISSA, 95% indicated the skills shortage has not improved in recent years and 44% say it has worsened. 

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Have you updated your software today?

By Nam Nguyen, Vice Chair
EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) will use this opportunity to share helpful reminders of cybersecurity fundamentals throughout the month. 

The 2020 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey provides a look into cybersecurity issues facing US healthcare organizations. Based upon the feedback from 168 US-based healthcare cybersecurity professionals, “Relatively few healthcare organizations are conducting end-to-end security risk assessments. Sensitive information is exposed and such systems are vulnerable to attack.”

A simple yet important precaution to reduce cybersecurity risks is ensuring software updates and patches are applied in a timely manner. Though they are easy to ignore, most software updates or patches are important, as they address a vulnerability or security flaw in the endpoint of computer systems or medical devices. 

Healthcare organizations have been increasingly targeted with ransomware and other cyberattacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has shown hackers’ ability to endanger healthcare organizations’ operations as well as patient lives. 

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Privacy and Security, and Building Patient Trust

Earlier this year, ONC published an updated “Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information” to help healthcare providers and ambulatory practices understand existing federal law on protected health information (PHI).  It provides guidance on how providers can use certified electronic medical record technology (CEHRT) to provide secure communications with their patients and, via secure and interoperable health IT, share patient data with other care providers.

There is a great deal of practical information provided in this guide that helps explain who is and who is not a business associate (BA), per the HIPAA regulations.   It also provides clear guidance as to when it is permissible to disclose PHI, when patient authorizations are required, and how to provide patient access to their health information.  In addition, there is a useful section on general cybersecurity explaining the threat of cyber-attacks, the use of mobile devices, and email and texting among providers and their patients.

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