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Email is too ubiquitous and important to overlook when it comes to security in the healthcare setting. What are a few simple steps you can take to enhance your email security?

Email is the primary tool that healthcare organizations use for daily communications in the modern business world. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s effective, but it’s also a primary source of malware and spam that could threaten the organization.

There’s no need to go into detail about the many threats that cybercrime poses to the healthcare industry, right? If you work in healthcare, you’ve heard of WannaCry, so let’s just leave it at that.

Everyone knows how dangerous inadequate security can be, but beyond the horror stories like WannaCry, the eventual end results are not necessarily as clearly understood. What happens in the long run after a healthcare practice is hit by ransomware or another email-based threat?

What Are The 3 Reasons Need Effective Email Security?

Inadequate email security measures can have unfortunate effects, including:

  1. Loss of Privacy: Email is your best means of communicating with your third-parties, patients, and employees, but if you’re questioning the security measures in place, how can you feel comfortable sharing valuable information? Worrying about who will read your email every time you send one is no way to do business.
  2. Compromised Data: As soon as you learn that one email has been leaked, there’s no way of knowing how many more already have, or will be. The sensitive data that you and your employees divulge in emails and attachments on a daily basis is only as safe as your email security measures.
  3. Untrustworthy Reputation: Patients are less likely to continue to go to practices after they’ve been hacked. Would you expect your current contacts to continue to communicate with you via email if they were unsure of its safety? Protection for your email further protects your practice’s name and reputation in the community.

What Are The Top 3 Tips For Email Security?

There are many steps that staff members at a healthcare practice can take to secure their organization’s email, and given that they’re more about practice (common sense and logic), instead of expensive technologies (antivirus, antimalware, etc.), they’re also cost-effective to implement.

You can start the process of developing your IT security simply by adopting effective and basic practices as outlined in this Tuesday Tech Tips Video. Keep the following in mind:

  1. Keep Link Clicking / Attachment Downloads to a Minimum: Clicking on links that appear in random emails just isn’t safe. Hyperlinks are commonly used to lead unsuspecting employees to phishing and malware websites. Be sure to only click links when they’re from a confirmed, expected source, and when they aren’t part of a sales pitch, or an attempt to get information from you.Furthermore, suspicious email attachments from unknown or untrustworthy senders are the most common source of malware, ransomware, and other digital threats. Even if it’s from a friend or colleague, consider the message they send along with it; is it worded properly? Does it sound like it’s from them? It’s always a smart move to call the sender or speak in person if possible to confirm that they sent the email. Otherwise, simply delete it until you can be sure of its authenticity.
  2. Manage A Safe Sender’s List: No matter how new, or costly, or flashy your current spam filter is, it won’t keep unwanted spam out of your inbox forever. Whenever you see that a spammer’s email has made it past your filter, take a moment to block it so that it won’t happen again. Furthermore, make sure to only open emails from confirmed contacts.
  3. Encrypt Your Email: This is a fundamental part of email security. One-Click email encryption measures are easy to use and ensure that the user’s communication is secured against unwelcome readers while in transit. Furthermore, mobile device capability will allow users to read and send encrypted messages from the mobile platform without having to store the message locally, or any unnecessary battery or bandwidth usage.

Bottom line? You should be skeptical of any emails that ask you to provide information, click a link, download an attachment, or that come from an unexpected source. There’s no situation in which ignoring a suspicious email would ever be as dangerous as taking it at face value, so it’s always in your practice’s interest to remain skeptical.

Like this article? Check out Does Your Healthcare IT Company Have A “Client Success Manager”?, You’re A Health Care Organization. You’ve Just Had A Data Breach. Now What?, or Security: Focus On The Fundamentals to learn more.

GDS works with Local Hospitals, Covered Entities and Business Associates Across the United States.

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