It’s important not to overlook cybersecurity when it comes to mental health care. Cybercrime has exploded in the last two years. Hackers have been able to leverage people’s pandemic anxiety to steal money. Mental health services are at an even greater risk than the average person.
Mental health services have relied on technology more than ever to help people. Things like telehealth and Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have made remote therapy possible. However, these new technologies mean new measures must be taken to ensure patient privacy.
Let’s explore why mental health services are vulnerable to hackers and what can be done to keep patient information safe.
Why Healthcare Is Vulnerable to Hackers
Health care organizations are vulnerable to hackers because they have high-value data. They keep information of a high monetary and intelligence value. This data includes protected health information (PHI) and financial data like credit cards. Health care organizations also keep ID information like Social Security numbers on file.
Any piece of info a hacker would want, they can find in health records. This is why stolen health records can sell for up to ten times the price as stolen credit card info on the black market.
How Can Hackers Harm Mental Health Services?
Hackers can harm mental health services by compromising PHI. A mental healthcare organization needs to keep protected information private. Otherwise, they can face serious fines under HIPAA. Data breaches are expensive—medical data remediation costs average $408 per stolen health care record. Non-health records cost about $148 per stolen record.
In addition to bloating costs, hackers can interfere with care delivery. If ransomware holds your patient’s medical records hostage, you might not be able to give them the correct care at a critical moment. If hackers can steal data, they can also alter it, wreaking havoc on the patient.
Does your mental health care utilize things like telehealth? Those can also get knocked out by hackers. A simple DDOS attack can completely overload the network. This makes it impossible for your patients to see their therapists. Any medical device or service that uses the internet is vulnerable to hackers.
How To Protect Mental Health Services From Hackers
Now you understand the importance of cybersecurity in mental health care. Let’s take a look at some necessary measures to ensure the data security of your patients.
The first line of defense in cyber security comes from employee education. Simple human errors factor into 90% of data breaches. You need to provide cybersecurity training for all staff.
Make sure you periodically check your employees on their cyber security knowledge. It’s easy to get rusty and forget things. Cybersecurity needs to be a part of your healthcare organization’s continuing education.
Use Antivirus Software
Cybersecurity measures need to be a part of any mental health care provider’s budget. Good antivirus software will keep your systems protected. Ensure to keep in touch with IT professionals, and don’t forget to add the latest updates.
Use a VPN Service
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is essential for keeping sensitive data away from prying eyes. A VPN creates a secure tunnel to send encrypted data. If you need to send data, this is the safest way to do it. A hacker cannot see what is in the data tunnel. Even if they could see the data, they wouldn’t be able to read it because it’s encrypted.
VPNs are beneficial to healthcare organizations because they mask your IP. When you send data, no one can see that it’s coming from a healthcare organization. This keeps a lot of hackers at bay because they can only see the IP spoof you have chosen.
All mental health services need to take steps to ensure cyber security. The bigger your organization is, the more crucial it is to keep data safe.
Modern technology makes healthcare very efficient. However, that can also make it very efficient for hackers to steal large amounts of data. You can provide excellent mental healthcare and keep your patent’s data safe with the proper precautions.