The digital transformation of the healthcare industry in India has undoubtedly revolutionised patient care, research, and administration. Nevertheless, this progress has given rise to various challenges, especially in the data security and privacy fields.
Snoopers, data brokers, and other malicious actors are out to get your personal information. And the consequences can be dire. The need to protect this invaluable resource has never been more pressing. While various Indian healthcare institutions are trying their best to protect your sensitive data, there are a few things that you can do yourself.
Healthcare data security in India
India’s healthcare system has undergone a massive transformation. There has been widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, and other digital solutions. In addition, the government has passed the Personal Data Protection Bill to ensure better protection. Moreover, the country is trying to implement the National Health Stack (NHS). It should help incorporate security measures to safeguard patient data.
Nevertheless, there has been a massive healthcare breach recently. For example, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) database has been compromised. According to cybersecurity experts at Resecurity, 815 million people were exposed to a data leak, that contained important information, like Aadhaar, passport information, phone numbers, addresses, and other sensitive information. And these types of attacks happen quite frequently.
The most common healthcare digital threats
If your data ended up on the dark web due to massive cyber attacks, the least you can do is not fall for the most common digital threats:
- Phishing and social engineering. It’s a tactic that often uses your email address, phone number, or other means of communication. Malicious actors will try to trick you into giving out sensitive information. For example, they can pretend to be your doctor.
- Account takeover. Hackers can obtain your login credentials and exploit it for malicious purposes. It can be your email address, social media accounts, or healthcare logins. Worst of all, you can lose access to all of them.
- Ransomware attacks. Your devices can be infected by malicious software. Cybercriminals will encrypt your data and won’t let you access it until you pay a hefty price.
There are a lot more types of digital threats. However, all of them can cause devastating consequences. For example, you may get your identity stolen. Not to mention, there is a big possibility of complete healthcare data loss and massive financial losses.
Tools and tips on how to keep your healthcare data secure
Apart from identifying and not falling for digital threats, there are some tools and practices that can help you deal with these problems. Below, you’ll find the best digital apps and tips that will help you prevent security breaches and safeguard your healthcare data.
- Get a virtual private network. A reliable VPN will create a secure and encrypted tunnel between your device, the internet, and your healthcare institution. So, there is no way that malicious actors will crack your data. And while plenty of VPNs will promise to protect you, we highly recommend getting a tried-and-tested VPN for India. That way, you won’t have to put your precious data at stake.
- Utilise antivirus. For even more protection, anti-malware software will monitor and obliterate any viruses, trojans, trackers, and other malware. Some can even identify phishing attempts and help you avoid them.
- Create robust passwords. To prevent easy account takeovers, you can create long and complicated passwords. To help you remember them and store them securely, a handy password manager will surely lend you a hand.
- Use only secure channels to share your healthcare data. We highly recommend sending and receiving sensitive information on verified and safe platforms. Additionally, try to refrain from using public Wi-Fi for these interactions, as they are usually not encrypted.
- Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA). For your most important healthcare accounts, you should use multiple authentication methods. Apart from passwords, you can use biometrics, SMS messages, access badges, and so on. That way, even if your password gets compromised, there is no way hackers are breaching your account.
- Regularly update your apps and devices. Updates are necessary to avoid vulnerabilities. Therefore, regularly look for security patches and install them.
Adopting robust cyber hygiene practices cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to healthcare data. Hopefully, by now, you’ll be able to identify and avoid the most common digital threats in case something terrible happens. Additionally, use the right tools and stay vigilant. That way, malicious actors won’t be able to steal your sensitive information in India.
Samantha Green, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.