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How healthy is your health and social care business?

Cyber attacks are increasingly taking up space on our timelines and news feeds as a result of businesses becoming more and more susceptible to online attacks. These cyber attacks often disrupt the day to day running or even future of the businesses they attack. With new threats constantly emerging, how do you know what to protect your business from?

The healthcare industry is 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year business, so with that comes an escalated risk of attack to the businesses within the industry.

In May 2017, the UK’s National Heath Service (NHS) fell victim to a huge cyber attack which is commonly known as the WannaCry cyber attack.

This attack was relatively unsophisticated and could have been prevented by better IT security practice. On Friday 12th May 2017, a computer virus that encrypts data on infected computers and demands a ransom payment to allow user access was released worldwide.

The attack led to disruption in at least 34% of the NHS’s trusts in England and led to thousands of appointments and operations being cancelled. 80 if the 236 hospital trusts were affected, alongside 595 of 7,454 GP practices.

The report into the attack revealed that NHS trusts had not acted on critical alerts from NHS Digital and a warning from the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office in 2014 to patch or migrate away from vulnerable older software.

The attack was only halted due to cyber security researcher activating a ‘kill switch’ so that the virus was stopped in its tracks and could no longer lock devices.

All health and social care organisations can, and should, have strong cyber security measures

in place, not least because the protection of patients' confidential health and social care

data is fundamental to delivering high quality and safe services.

To help your health care business strengthen its cyber security, you can follow and adopt these basic practices, outlined in the Small Business Guide from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The guide sets out five key areas for businesses to help improve their cyber security.

The five recommended areas of focus are:

  1. Backing up your data: Top tips include keeping a back-up of dan ta separate, reading our Cloud Security guidance, and backing up regularly.

  2. Protecting from malware: Top tips include switching on firewalls, preventing staff downloading dodgy apps, and controlling how USBs can be used.

  3. Keeping your smartphones (and tablets) safe: Top tips include making sure devices can be wiped remotely, not connecting to unknown Wi-Fi networks and keeping device software up to date.

  4. Using passwords to protect your data: Top tips include avoiding predictable passwords, using two-factor authentication, and changing default passwords.

  5. Avoid phishing attacks: Top tips include checking for obvious signs of phishing, reporting all attacks, and testing resilience using our Exercise in a Box tool.

Here at the SECRC, via our free core membership we provide guidance and toolkits like this to help businesses improve their cyber resilience and mitigate the threats posed by cyber criminals.

We provide a range of services delivered by top talent from local universities, including staff training. We also have a network of Trusted Partners who can help you complete the Government-backed Cyber Essentials programme – designed to protect businesses from up to 80% of the most common cyber attacks.

Find out more via our membership page.


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