The Hidden Vulnerability That Can Lead to Cyberattacks in Healthcare

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The U.S. saw a 57 percent increase in the number of cyberattacks in 2022 compared to the year before, according to data released by Check Point Research. In fact, U.S. healthcare organizations, in particular, averaged 1,463 weekly cyberattacks in 2022. That’s 74 percent higher than in 2021.

Hackers will investigate a healthcare organization, searching for possible vulnerabilities that they could exploit, particularly for ransom. For instance if a hacker is able to gain access to a healthcare organization’s Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, they may be able to infiltrate the organization’s internal network. Compromised devices could affect patient safety, data confidentiality or service ability.

While there are multiple different ways a hacker may look to enter your network, one you may not have thought about is unsecured endpoints such as printers, copiers and fax machines.

INFOGRAPHIC: Cybersecurity For Your Printer

Office Printers Are Typically Computerized

Just like any other computer at your organization, today’s office printers and related business technology typically have a hard drive, operating system, memory and the ability to be connected to your internal network. That’s why hackers will include printers on their list of targets. If left unprotected, a printer could be a potential gateway for hackers to enter your network. 

HIPAA and Zero Trust Printing 

In addition to hackers, there could be internal threats lurking within your organization. Healthcare organizations are required to follow Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy rules to ensure patient data safety. Since healthcare organizations frequently handle confidential patient data, many have begun to adopt zero trust printing practices to better ensure the safety of confidential printed materials.

The foundation of zero trust printing is based on the following three basic components:

  • Always Verify – Adding a secure printing feature (such as Follow Me printing) on a shared printer or multifunction device to assist in keeping sensitive information safe, will verify who is doing the printing before completing the request. A Managed Print Services (MPS) provider can install secure printing software that requires a user to swipe a programmed card or enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN) into the keypad on the printer before the device will print the document sent by the user.
  • Provide Least Privileged Access with Segmentation – Secure your organization’s print environment by only granting access to the print devices that the user needs and blocking access to printers that they don’t. If a user’s job functions change, their device access can always be modified.
  • Assume the Risk of a BreachZero trust printing is founded on the basis that every print job could contain security risk. Secure printing allows all print jobs to be tracked and provides analytics to security administrators to increase visibility, drive threat detection and use the data to improve future defenses. 

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Ways to Guarantee HIPAA Compliant Printing in Your Clinics 

How Managed Print Services Can Increase the Safety of Your Print Fleet 

A Managed Print Services (MPS) provider can assist healthcare organizations to stay compliant with HIPAA privacy rules and better secure your print fleet.

A needs assessment conducted by a trusted MPS provider will show where the business technology devices are located throughout an organization, what brand and functions each device provides and a survey of how staff use these devices. This assessment will determine if the current print fleet is meeting staff needs or if modifications could be made to increase productivity and ensure greater fleet safety.

In addition, an MPS provider will assist you with changing default passwords on new equipment and can install optional print security software which will require users to authenticate a print request by swiping their card at a card reader or entering their PIN on the device’s keypad before the document is printed.

We also suggest that organizations enact a policy requiring that employees do not leave documents behind when printing, copying, scanning or faxing. This will help to protect patient data. Also, remind employees about this policy by placing a sign at each device.

When it’s time to replace your print fleet, be sure to wipe the hard drives clean before disposing, recycling or reselling the devices. MPS providers often include this service as a part of their complete program. Want to know for sure? For more information, ask your MPS provider about the HIPAA compliant print protocols they perform.

Working with an experienced MPS provider can provide peace of mind by increasing the security of your print fleet and assisting to manage the healthcare data lifecycle. 

How Can Our Organization Increase Our Print Security? 

Whether you are looking to increase your printer security, go green or find additional ways to cut costs, contact the healthcare print professionals at Gordon Flesch Company to assess your current print infrastructure and develop a tailored strategy, all at no cost to you. 

In fact, Gordon Flesch Company ensures all printed document history is destroyed at the end of a machine's useful life or service, even if the machine didn’t come from us. We’ll also review any applications and service logs to ensure they’re properly configured and don’t contain a list of failed prints or previously printed data.

Looking for more information? Check out our helpful guide to learn more about Better Healthcare Through Intelligent Print Management and learn more about how to better protect personal data and adding security features to your printer fleet. Click the link below to download your guide. 

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