Thanks to Baby Boomers (Thanks, Boomer!), senior citizens now represent nearly 20% of the overall population in the United States. That’s never happened before. And the aged population continues to grow!

Some 76% of them want to stay and age in their own homes, according to the AARP. But only about half will feasibly be able to do so, even with advances in home care technology.

That means the need for well-equipped, dependable Senior Living Facilities (SLF) will continue to rise. Already in the past 10 years, Southern Florida has seen the rise of Full-Service SLF’s – Facilities that provide everything from essentially active, independent living condo communities to those that provide complete Nursing and Memory Care Rooms. A golden parachute to grave approach, if you will.

But that growth comes with unique challenges.

Data Regulation & Protection

Existing HIPAA laws and their more recent amendments, combined with the Federal Government’s push for “easier” accessible electronic health records, means that every facility, regardless of size, holds a lot of personal data in its systems.

That’s a gold mine for hackers.

The news always covers the big data breaches, like the 2015 Anthem leak that exposed the data of approximately 80-million people, or 1 in 4 US citizens. But no one mentions the smaller information leaks. They’re quietly becoming more prevalent, and they’re more devastating to the companies who are forced to deal with them.

Experts say that clever hackers can command a much higher price on the black market for personal health information than they can get for credit card data. And, sadly, often that information is not as well protected.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

While experts say there’s no way to protect yourself 100% from determined hackers, there are some steps you can take:

Implement your own firewall

Don’t depend on your internet service provider’s modem or WiFi transmitter to handle the heavy security lifting. Some 85% of popular modems are vulnerable to attack. This is to say nothing of the basic routers that are often in use, many of which are already compromised and actively being exploited.

Keep a REAL virtual barrier between company and personal data

As tempting as it is, your employees should be checking their personal email and social media accounts AT HOME. Every opening to the outside world is a potential source of a breach. Nearly 75% of all data breaches come through employees, and the numbers have actually gotten worse in recent years. One wrongly opened phishing email can mean bankruptcy for your small business.

Establish Secure Data Protocols

Require individual user logins for all secure systems, rather than sharing passwords. This makes it difficult more difficult for hackers to target your infrastructure, to say nothing of preventing password information from being communicated around via insecure channels like email, text messaging, and sticky notes.

And that leads to another important security & privacy procedure: restrict data access only to relevant employees – if they don’t need to see it, they shouldn’t be able to find it. This is especially true of credit card and medical data, and in fact is required by PCI and HIPAA standards.

One of the simplest and most helpful policies you can implement right away is to implement a modern password management system. This allows you to securely create, store, manage, share, and enforce policies around passwords — not just for you, but for everyone in your business.

Keep your employees in the Loop

On the other hand, you DO want your employees to be vigilant about cybersecurity. Don’t just make them change passwords and maintain other standards. Be transparent about why these procedures and standards are in place, especially if they appear to be random or arbitrary.

Follow Federal Cybersecurity Standards

Unfortunately, this is a moving target as the standards are always changing. Your best bet is to contract with an IT company that stays abreast of the technology, laws, and keeps itself HIPAA compliant.

Have Questions?

CSi Networks caters to small and medium sized businesses in Sarasota and the surrounding area. We’re committed to Advancing Business Through Technology, so we’ve developed best practices for cybersecurity. Let our specialists keep your business as protected as possible from cyber attacks and data breaches. Schedule a free on-site network security assessment for your organization today!