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Three Ways to Improve Cybersecurity at Your Local Health Department

May 01, 2023 | Celeste Wylie

The world is full of evolving technology and continuous changes, and cyber threats are at an all-time high. Between phishing, malware, spoofing, and even insider threats, it is more vital than ever for companies to maintain vigilance and take proper measures to secure their data. When it comes to public health, cybersecurity is essential in maintaining confidentiality and preventing theft or loss of patient information. Here are three ways to improve cybersecurity at your local health department:

  1. Multifactor authentication:
    • Multifactor authentication is an extra layer of security to access data. By creating rules for password complexity and another form of login such as Face ID, one-time passcodes, or PINS you can ensure a strong password. Remember to always keep passwords private and in a safe location.
  2. Keep antivirus software up to date:
    • Anti-virus software can identify and block viruses before they have a chance to infect your computer. Once you install anti-virus software, it is important to keep it up to date. Always plan and set scheduled times to scan your systems for any viruses. According to ASAE Center: A Few Ways to Improve Your Organization’s Cybersecurity in 2023 (asaecenter.org) “Associations should conduct a vulnerability scan for both externally visible IP addresses, as well as your internal networks, on a regular basis. Not only should you have a solid and consistent backup strategy, but you must ensure your backups are stored in a network segment that is not available to standard. Lastly, please ensure all security patches are being deployed weekly. This is fundamental to the health of your organization.”
  3. Become HIPPA Compliant according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): NIST Updates Guidance for Health Care Cybersecurity | NIST
    • By being compliant and within standards, we decrease our chances of being audited and ensure a more secure infrastructure for the organization. Be sure there is room for NIST and HIPPA certifications in your Public Health Department’s budget to protect the data within your system and the people whose lives the data represents.

At NACCHO’s Preparedness Summit we learned that when local health officials engage in IT decisions other staff members take on a larger role, which helps make the workplace safer. When we train the workforce to protect themselves and their families at home, it will flow into the workplace ensuring a safer environment.

If you are interested in cybersecurity or other topics, connect with our LHIT Community of Practice at http://www.naccho.org/lhit.


About Celeste Wylie

Celeste Wylie is a temporary website specialist at the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

More posts by Celeste Wylie

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