Prevent a Data Breach in Your Senior Living Community. Follow These Steps.

Data is among a senior housing operation’s most valuable assets. Data stored in a senior living facility’s system includes critical business information, records on resident health and finances, and many other pieces of information that is central to the success of the enterprise. At the same time, data faces increasing threats from outside actors who may seek to steal or compromise information.

Employee training is the first line of defense, making sure that all users understand how their own behaviors can impact the security of data across enterprise systems. But that is only a first step. The following steps can help to minimize the threat of data breach in your senior living community.

Secure mobile devices.

Cell phone loss and laptop theft are among the most common causes of data breach. These devices should be fully encrypted and secured with passcodes to ensure data cannot be accessed by any unauthorized user.

Control computer use.

Many data breaches occur via the Internet, with attacks launched through fake or malicious web sites. Internet access should be limited to business needs, employees should not be able to file-share through peer to peer websites, and IT leaders should block all access to inappropriate or non-business related sites.

Control internal access.

All computers within the organization should be protected by password. Users should be required to log on after any period of inactivity. Moreover, a clear policy should spell out the parameters for a secure password, one that cannot be easily guessed, or cracked by some snooping algorithm.

Guard the barricades.

Standing watch is an essential step in the effort to prevent data breaches. This means implementing intrusion detection and prevention software across all mission critical systems. This applies especially to systems that face out to the Internet, including web servers, e-mail, active directory services and others.

Patch aggressively.

In today’s security environment, it is imperative to apply as much rigor as possible in staying up-to-date on patching. It is not sufficient to simply enable Microsoft updates and assume that things will take care of themselves. In a larger enterprise it is likely that other operating systems may also be in use, and is necessary to keep these patches up to date as well. Third party applications also must be kept current.

Get help.

Data breach is a high-stakes concern, with privacy laws, regulations and other pressures compelling senior housing operators to give the matter their utmost attention. With this in mind, some industry executives will opt to augment their own IT staffs with specially trained outside consultants, experts who come equipped with a deep knowledge of the present threat landscape.

It would be hard to overstate the severity of the data loss threat in the present cyber environment. As most senior housing executives have come to realize, the information stored in their databases can be both a significant business asset and also a potential risk. Handled correctly, data can go a long way in driving a business toward achieving its goals. Left unguarded, however, that same data can become a distinct liability. Taking basic steps toward data security, as outlined above, therefore becomes a business imperative.

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