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How Insider Threats Cause Breaches in Healthcare

Learn how insiders cause data privacy breaches in healthcare. Since the healthcare industry has reduced paper-based PHI, insider data incidents in healthcare make up 58% of all cyber securitybreach incidents.

By Ramiz Khan

A man's hand reaching towards a bunch of file folders on a shelf.

Since the healthcare industry started reducing their use of paper-based PHI (Patient Health Information), insider data incidents in healthcare now makes up 58% of all healthcare cyber security breach incidents. Most cyber security breaches in the healthcare industry were unintentional: 

  • 33.5% of threats came from a user error.
  • 29% of threats were from a misuse of technology.
  • About 25% of threats came from hacking and malware.

The alarming rate of cybers security threats can be curbed if companies bolster their insider threat mitigation and prevention. Simply having cybers security walls in place isn’t enough. IT administrators must monitor where PHI is being accessed, who accesses, and what users are doing with this sensitive information.

Controlling Access to PHI and Healthcare Cyber Security

Healthcare industry professionals and their IT teams must balance between giving enough access to sensitive information, so team members can perform their jobs without leaving open opportunities for abuse. Changes in staff roles and evolving technologies can make giving access and insider threat mitigation challenging. To fill in the gaps over who has access to sensitive information, monitoring data access with user activity monitoring software gives healthcare organizations the visibility and context they need to mitigate insider threats. 

Sensitive Data Access Audits

Healthcare organizations are required by HIPAA to have an efficient audit process that requires consistent monitoring and updates to sensitive information access controls. Scheduled and surprise audits ensure that healthcare organizations are working towards minimizing inappropriate data access.

To help maximize uptime during an audit, user activity monitoring tools like ActivTrak generate user activity logs so auditors can easily see how staff are spending their time on connected devices and how they’re treating sensitive data.

Historical View into Insider Threats

In a perfect world, incidents of insider threats are stopped at the source and the security system is reinforced to prevent all future breaches. However, according to research by Verizon on healthcare security breaches, nearly 60% of cybersecurity breaches aren’t found for months-to-years after they’ve occurred. For example, an employee who abruptly quits their position may not have their access to sensitive data revoked until much later, after an audit.

Regular audits and reviews can help curb future data breaches. User activity monitoring software takes security a step further by maintaining user activity logs that auditors can use to find alarming trends and patterns of neglect – preventing insider threats before they can occur.

Real-Time Insider Threat Mitigation

Maintaining user activity logs for audits is only one piece of the puzzle. ActivTrak’s real-time screen capturing and notifications help your security team maintain a proactive position on insider threat mitigation. When teams use the instant notifications, they’re able to step-in and stop security issues before they spread throughout your network. Reports on the incident are also recorded and available for audits to strengthen security policies. 

Monitoring and managing access over PHI are not only mandatory by HIPAA, but also necessary to ensure your data isn’t compromised by security breaches. As more data becomes digitized and stored by healthcare organizations, watching over the flow of this data will become a greater responsibility. 

The ActivTrak Healthcare Bundle helps organizations align their privacy and data security rules as laid out by HIPAA. ActivTrak protects patient information from potential insider threats and data exfiltration protection with ongoing security audit reporting and digital forensics. Learn more about ActivTrak’s Healthcare Bundle and request a demo today.

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