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BYOD Healthcare: Policies, Drawbacks and Security Solutions

Melissa Gaffney | October 10, 2022

Melissa Gaffney

October 10, 2022

Since employing personal devices in hospitals is shown to improve staff productivity, efficiency, and workflow, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) market in the healthcare sector is constantly growing. Security concerns brought on by a lack of control over staff members’ personal mobile devices, which may include sensitive data, are one of the key challenges facing hospital administrations in terms of healthcare information technology (IT).

With the present growth of the BYOD market, there are some significant data security issues to address. These devices often include sensitive information, such as patients’ personal health records, and should under no circumstances be made public. Unfortunately, when this data is stored on employee personal devices, it is at risk.

Within the healthcare sector in particular, secure BYOD frameworks are necessary to maintain compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). To improve device security and comply with government standards, a clear BYOD policy will help identify who can use personal devices and how. It will also define what data can and cannot be accessed on personal devices. Other important considerations include network regulations and the right management protocols that the IT department has access to concerning personal devices and data.

Once frameworks are established and agreed upon, you can begin implementing your BYOD strategy. Below is a list of challenges and solutions you should consider when building, maintaining, or updating your BYOD policy.

BYOD Challenges:

The Human Element

Unfortunately, employees continue to drive breaches within the healthcare industry. Whether it is through phishing scams, stolen credentials, lack of awareness or simple human error, people continue to play a large part in incidents and breaches alike. “More than half of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and biotech firms have over 1,000 sensitive files exposed to every employee. One-third of the organizations we evaluated have over 10,000 files open to every employee,” according to the 2021 DATA RISK REPORT HEALTHCARE, PHARMACEUTICAL & BIOTECH report.

Healthcare Applications

Approov and cybersecurity analyst and “recovering hacker” Alissa Knight published research that highlights findings from hacking 30 mobile health apps and the threats faced through application program interfaces (APIs). “Out of the API endpoints tested, 100% of them were vulnerable to Broken Object Level Authorization (BOLA) attacks leading to unauthorized access to full patient records, downloadable lab results and x-ray images, blood work, allergies, and personally identifiable information (PII) including home addresses, family member data, birthdates, and social security numbers.”

The hack of the Accellion File Transfer Application reported in early 2021 was the biggest healthcare data breach known to date, impacting over 100 companies, organizations, universities, and government agencies around the world.

BYOD Solutions

We need to be doing a better job at securing apps before they go into production by implementing security policies that mobile app developers must follow before they can be launched and made available to the general public.

Within the healthcare sector in particular, secure BYOD frameworks are necessary to maintain compliance with HIPAA. To improve device security and comply with government standards a clear healthcare BYOD policy is needed. Once you have determined your security challenges, it is important to:

  1. Identify network regulations
  2. Define management protocols
  3. Write a detailed BYOD policy
  4. Train employees and have them sign a user agreement

Software developers and healthcare organizations should monitor the controls they implement for apps and adjust them for compliance with laws such as HIPAA. Q-Scout by Quokka is a BYOD security solution that helps organizations create and implement security practices and policies that don’t compromise end-user privacy.

The Bottomline

BYOD presents security threats to the healthcare industry. Implementing secure BYOD policies is a critical step in securing the data of your patients and other employees, but a mobile security app can go even further.

When developing your BYOD policy, it’s important to consider who will be using the devices and what they’ll be doing with them. You’ll want to make sure that you allow only appropriate devices on your network, as well as limit access to certain services or apps. Additionally, you should require remote wiping for lost or stolen devices so that if one does get compromised, it’s not leaking all over the place with sensitive information.

In addition to these steps, you should also consider a mobile security app. This will help protect against viruses and other malicious software that could compromise your healthcare organization’s data and reputation.

At Quokka, we believe cybersecurity should be the primordial concern of enterprises in the 21st century – the threat of security breaches is only mounting, so the time to implement proper cybersecurity measures is now.

For more information, visit Quokka.

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