Cyber threats are feeling closer to home than ever before with more than 150 countries targeted in the largest known virtual software attack in mid-May, impacting and holding ransom to more than 200,000 individual systems. The greatest impact has been seen in the United Kingdom, with the National Health Service forced to cancel hospital operations, deter patients from presenting in E&T and diversion of ambulances from facilities struggling to cope, after computer access to patient files, scans and test results became frozen and inaccessible. Hospitals, general practices and allied health services were forced to shut down when access to patient records were unobtainable and prescription of medicines was near impossible.
In 2012, hackers undertook an attack on Miami Family Medical Centre, located on the Gold Coast, encrypting data and demanding $4,000 in ransom to release all systems. Although back-up disks and practice programs were corrupted, the functioning back-up system which was not connected to the server ensured all data was retrieved with no records stolen.
Following the peak of this global attack, the Australian Federal Government has confirmed three private businesses have been affected, stressing the importance of information security on computer systems and maintenance of antivirus software to protect against likely future attacks.
The attack exploited vulnerability in Microsoft Windows’ infrastructure infiltrating a software bug into those systems which had not been upgraded, after a repair patch was released in March of this year. The major issue highlighted by this occurrence is the limited understanding of IT infrastructure and security requirements by organisational staff.
As health care providers, computer systems play a central role in day-to-day activities within a practice setting and hold a wealth of personal and sensitive information regarding your patient population. With the looming threat of more cyber attacks set to occur in our digital world, this malicious incident indicates that now is the time to review your current computer security systems, backups and processes to ensure your practice is protected from a pending attack.
AGPAL and QIP’s IT team have identified the top 4 tips to start mitigating your risk when it comes to cyber-attacks and computer and data security.
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For more information regarding your accreditation requirements or the topics outlined in this feature, please contact our QIP team, call 1300 888 329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.