When it comes to email correspondence, there’s nothing more annoying than spam. You log into your email to read messages from patients and business associates, but get assaulted with tens of spam mails that throw a wrench in your workflow. However, that’s not the worst that can happen. As a medical facility, spam emails can result in a breach of your patients’ personal data and medical records. In this article, you’ll learn how to protect your medical facility from spam emails.
Reasons to Protect Your Medical Facility from Spam Emails
Spam emails don’t just constitute a nuisance in you and your employees’ inbox. They can lead to catastrophic situations that will affect your facility and patients. Outlined below are some of the reasons why email spam protection is essential for your medical facility.
Prevent Malware Installation
Malware are malicious codes that can be installed and run undetected in your medical facility’s computer or system network. A Verizon study reported that 66% of malware attack on healthcare facility networks was delivered via email attachments. When you or your employees download an attached malware document in a spam email, your facility’s network system will be hijacked, giving the spammer easy entry access to information.
Prevent Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks occur when spam emails are disguised to look like they are from legitimate people. Let’s say your patients’ email data was breached with a malware attack; the spammer will then send a phishing mail to your contacts, impersonating you or your employees. The email will contain a link that, when clicked, will lead to a fraudulent web page where sensitive information, such as social security information and credit card details, will be collected. You and your employees may also be attacked with a phishing email to get the login credentials for your facility’s network.
Avoid HIPAA Fines
The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires healthcare organizations to ensure the protection and confidentiality of patients’ data. Spam emails can lead to the breaching of patients’ medical information, thereby violating the HIPPA law. Thus, you may end up paying a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for failing to prevent phishing attacks.
Top 3 Strategies to Prevent Spam Email Attacks
There are a couple of things you can do to block spam emails and prevent malware and phishing attacks. However, outlined below are the three top strategies you should deploy immediately.
Setup Spam Filters to Block Emails with Suspicious Content
First, only use email providers with spam filtering solutions that filter and block emails with suspicious content from getting to your inbox. Next, implement a web filter on your facility’s computers that scans web pages before opening them, and blocks access to known malicious web addresses. Furthermore, you can install malware detection solutions on your medical facility computers and network servers to detect and block malware threats.
Train Your Team to Recognize Spam & Prevent Attacks
Nothing is 100% effective, including setting up technical anti-spam protection for your facility’s emails and servers. Even when you’re constantly updating your protection software to tackle new cybercrime tactics, some spam emails may still slip into your inbox. Thus, you should organize cybersecurity awareness training to teach your employees to recognize spam emails with malicious intent.
Train your medical employees to always verify an email sender’s identity before clicking any link or downloading attachments - especially the part after the @ sign. Also, encourage them not to use official emails for other online activities, such as shopping or social media. They should also never reply to a spam email, even with the words stop or unsubscribe. Instead, they should mark the mail as spam BEFORE deleting it, to prevent another mail from the same sender from getting into their inbox.
Deploy Two-Factor Authentication for your Medical Facility Network
Two-factor authentication (a.k.a. 2FA) is a security measure that requires extra login credentials for individuals to have access to an online account or page. You've most likely added this to your personal logins on other sites. A 2019 Microsoft research reported that this type of multi-factor authentication blocks 99.9% of cyberattacks, including email phishing and login credentials compromise.
For example, after entering their login details for your medical facility network, employees will be required to enter a pin/code sent to their mobile or from a physical device in order to access your medical facility database network. This means that even if the login details are gotten after a phishing attack, the hacker will be unable to login into your systems.
Email spam protection isn’t just about preventing spammers emails from landing in your inbox. It’s also about blocking malware and phishing attacks to prevent a breach of your patients’ personal information and medical records. Hence, it is crucial to set up an effective email security solution to protect your facility against sophisticated phishing and malware attacks.