While HIPAA compliant email can safely send outbound emails to your patients, covered entities also need to consider protecting their inboxes from inbound email threats. Ransomware can take over an entire network and cause a multitude of problems for healthcare organizations.
How likely is it that healthcare providers will get a ransomware threat?
Cybercriminals see a lot of earning potential in healthcare, so it's frequently under attack. The COVID-19 pandemic saw a 600% increase in malicious emails as hackers took advantage of stressed healthcare workers and employees working from home. And a lot of the time, hackers successfully deployed ransomware. At least 50% of all healthcare data breaches were caused by ransomware attacks.
Cybercriminals frequently target healthcare providers because their network contains protected health information (PHI) that is incredibly valuable on the black market. Selling personal health data can make a lofty fortune for hackers. Sometimes cybercriminals encrypt a network with ransomware and then ask for a ransom to unencrypt the data. Hackers know that disabling a healthcare provider's network makes it more difficult for it to fully operate and treat patients. In these situations, it's not unheard of for covered entities to pay expensive ransoms to the hackers to have their systems restored.
The largest ransom ever paid was made by an insurance company for $40 million. If your network gets infected with ransomware, the consequences can be severe for healthcare professionals. You may end up paying a hefty ransom to restore your network, but the reverberations don't end there. You will most likely face a HIPAA investigation for not keeping PHI secure. This could result in your company paying heavy fines for a HIPAA violation and implementing an expensive corrective action plan. While keeping your network security robust seems costly, the investment is worth it compared to what would happen if your network was taken over by hackers.
What can healthcare providers do to protect themselves from ransomware?
The most important action item is to be proactive in keeping your network secure. Too many healthcare providers rely on their employees to spot malicious emails. While employee awareness training is an essential part of cybersecurity, human error can still occur. That's why it's important to have a robust email security system that takes some of the responsibility off of employees. Email security can spot malicious emails and prevent them from entering a person's inbox. This means that your employees won't even have a chance of falling victim to a phishing email. There are multiple ways to keep your company's inbox protected from email threats.
Some of these strategies include:
- Using data loss prevention (DLP): Email DLP prevents employees from accidentally or intentionally sending sensitive information to unapproved recipients.
- Preventing display name spoofing: Features like ExecProtect can detect spoofed email addresses and quarantine them.
- Authenticating email servers: Zero Trust Email provides an extra layer of protection to ensure the authenticity of emails.
- Enforcing two-factor authentication (2FA): 2FA requires individuals to enter the correct login credentials and a second form of authentication, usually a unique code sent to an email address or phone number.
- Implementing email archiving: Unlike typical email storage, email archiving allows emails to be searched for specific information.
Covered entities are also required to send HIPAA compliant email. Paubox Email Suite Premium can do exactly that and also provides robust inbound email protection against threats like malware, spam, viruses, and phishing scams. Our HITRUST CSF certified software comes with all of the security features listed above, and we're dedicated to keeping your data protected from threats. Not only that, we are in the process of introducing robotic process automation (RPA) solutions using our email AI. Our software can help you automate your organization without violating HIPAA security rules.