Fending Off Virus Attacks

Nothing is more crippling to technology in a hospital than a virus. A virus can do anything from ruining your day, your business, or even a person’s life. It has capabilities of destruction much larger than what most people imagine. A hospital is a large target full of information that a hacker would love to have. There are many reasons why someone would attack a hospital network. A hospital is a gold mine of information and money. Your patients and staff trust you to keep their personal information safe and that is why you must be prepared to fend off potential attacks.

A virus is a program that attaches copies of itself to executable objects which then gives it the ability to control the whole computer or program. The virus can then spread and infect other computers connected to the network. A virus can not only enter your computer via an infected computer on your network, but can also enter through memory storage devices or through the internet. The virus will cause more than just headaches; it could cost emotional loss, time, personal information, and it could easily lead to financial loss as well. In the case of a virus in a hospital, damages could be enormous! As much as a virus is mainly preventable through proper virus blocking software, it is still possible for a virus to slip in. It is very important to be trained in virus management or to have a team of trained individuals that know what to do at the moment a virus hits your system. Once a virus has penetrated your systems a hacker could attack medical records, personal information such as social security numbers and home addresses which could lead to identity theft, insurance and billing information, security systems, medical supply shipping, and most importantly, the technology used to keep patients healthy and living. A successful attack on a hospital could be devastating to many people’s lives leading to a massive amount of lawsuits against the hospital from everyone affected by the attack.

Without proper protection, a hospital can be shut down if a virus spreads too far into its system. Recently in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Gwinnett Medical Center had to shuts its doors to all patients needing medical attention unless they were in critical condition because their system had been devastatingly hit by malware. The hospital had to switch to paper records with “runners” to take documents to different parts of the hospital for the patients already receiving medical attention there. The virus caused devastation to Gwinnett’s revenue and reputation. This was all due to employees not updating their own computers to the newest versions of their virus protection software. This is why it is so important to have a dedicated team or vendor do all of the updating remotely so that the fate of your hospital’s protection isn’t put entirely into the hands of your employees.

There are many types of viruses that can be deadly to a hospital computer or network which is why blocking a virus is much easier said than done. Potentials of a HIPAA virus breach are very possible without proper protection but you can stay virus free with proper protection. Virus protection needs to be broken down into three categories: prevention, detection, and elimination. Viruses threaten your systems through your technology and that is why it is so important to fight potential virus attacks with technology and support you can trust.

There are many companies that offer 24-hour monitoring and full virus protection to hospitals.  Offered services include virus protection on all network computers and the network itself, remote updating, and in the case of a virus breach, the capability to stop the threat remotely with early detection methods results in no damages. Prevention and training are the only ways to prevent a virus from attacking your hospitals technology. Proper virus protection software for your computers and your server is the best front line of defense for your hospital. Keeping all important information off of unsecured networks and establishing a system on your secured network that doesn’t allow downloading and surfing the web on un-trusted sites is another easy way to protect from a virus. Lastly, for when a virus does slip into the system, having a team of trained individuals that know what to do to kill that virus and the contaminated files along with being able to track it properly so that it doesn’t happen again. All of the tracking information should be documented and stored with a data management team because of the importance of keeping your hospital safe from viruses. If you know how a virus got into your hospital’s network, then you know exactly where to block it from coming in again and how to kill that particular virus.

With many options to choose from it is important to have proper support in protecting your practice or hospital. The majority of business’s that get attacked successfully are the ones that aren’t fully prepared for an attack. The key to beating the never ending threat of virus attacks is to not let it start to happen. With the proper protection software, strict rules on private networks, and a team of professionals to track and kill the virus, a hospital stands a chance to stay ahead in the war on virus protection.

~ Scott Poynter