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National Cyber Security Awareness Month Calls for Shared Responsibility

October 05, 2018

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). The National Cyber Security Division within the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance have sponsored this observation since 2004, as a way to educate all computer users about cyber threats and offer best practices about how to stay safe and secure online. The NCSAM theme for 2018 is “Our Shared Responsibility,” which emphasizes that cyberspace cannot be secured without the help of all users.

Hospital and health system data is highly sensitive, and critical to quality, safety, and a positive patient experience. Providers have Internet-enabled devices and electronic databases for clinical, financial, and administrative operations. Today, technology is connected to many networks, and these expanded connections are improving health care delivery—this includes resources like patient portals and electronic medical records.

In a world where cybersecurity threats are increasing, hospital and health system leaders take these cybersecurity challenges seriously. They are committed to protecting patients and their personal data, making these protections a 24/7 responsibility.

During February 2013, former President Barack Obama issued the Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, with the goal of improving cybersecurity and reducing cyber threats to the nation’s “critical infrastructure sectors.” Following this action, hospital and health system leaders were urged to take a number of proactive steps:

  • Establish procedures and a core cybersecurity team to identify and mitigate risks
  • Develop a cybersecurity investigation and incident response plan
  • Ensure that medical devices include intrusion detection and prevention assistance
  • Review, test, evaluate, and modify response and data breach plans to remain current

Hospitals and health systems have made great strides to defend their networks, secure patient data, preserve the efficient delivery of health care services, and protect patient safety. As technology and threats change, they are continually adjusting.

As the shared responsibility theme suggests, consumers should be sure they, too, are keeping their health care information private and secure. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has resources to help consumers protect this information.

For additional information, contact Mark Ross, HAP’s vice president, emergency preparedness.

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