5 Cyber Security Best Practices for Senior Communities

Putting robust technology into place in a senior community is crucial for numerous reasons, including better health monitoring, higher resident retention rates, and lower employee turnover. But if the technology and data isn’t secure, then all those benefits could disappear in one cyber attack.

Although it is often with big data breaches in banks and retailers that grab all the headlines, hackers are more likely to target smaller businesses, and increasingly, they’re going after healthcare data — the type that likely resides on your senior community system.

That’s why it’s vital to put some cyber security best practices into place. Here are five strategies to consider for your senior community:

1. Tier your access

The threat of hackers coming into your system is always a concern, but what if the risk is sitting just down the hallway? Inappropriate system use by employees and former employees is a significant concern. Whether resident and operational data is downloaded inadvertently or maliciously, you need to be able to limit what each employee can access based on job role. For example, an activities manager shouldn’t be able to look at payroll data or other financials.

2. Remove former employees from the system

Related to access issues, it’s imperative to turn off system entry when an employee leaves. Although this seems like common sense, disgruntled former employees who still have access to email, databases, and even network administration rights have hit many companies.

3. Update your applications

Hackers rely on software applications that haven’t yet been updated with the latest security patches. There’s a reason that software developers and technology companies issue so many updates — it’s because they’re in an arms race against cyber attackers. The only way you can stay on the side of the good guys is to make sure you’re regularly putting those updates into place.

4. Capture more spam

Unfortunately, seniors tend to be a major target for cyber attackers, especially in phishing attempts. As a senior care community, you can help by putting higher-level spam filters into place that stop the junk from getting through to residents. No spam system is perfect, so some legitimate emails may get blocked. But by regularly glancing through the spam filter logs, you’ll be able to recover the legitimate messages.

5. Offer security training to everyone

There’s no need for a deep dive into technical issues for security training, usually just a brief primer on email security, system use, web browsing, and other topics can be helpful, especially for seniors. Also, training doesn’t have to be an in-person event. You can put one or two cyber security tips into newsletters, activities updates, or even post a “tip of the week” on bulletin boards at your communities.

Security needs to be part of any senior living technology roadmap, and it can be helpful to lean on experts to make sure your security is in place where you need it. Consider getting an assessment of your technology setup, including a review of your network, data storage practices, hardware, software, and managed services. When it comes to cyber security, every component of your system has to be made bulletproof.

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