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Minimize disruption: Senior care and cybersecurity during COVID-19 pandemic

May 27, 2020 Article 1 min read
Phillip Long Joe Oleksak

Senior care facilities and CCRCs are helping residents stay connected with family and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic with technology. But there’s a dark side. Our experts share six steps to protect your clients and improve cybersecurity.

An elderly woman sitting at a table holding a coffee in one hand a tablet device in the other hand.Senior care facilities and CCRCs (continuing care retirement communities) have been helping residents stay connected with family and friends throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These connections are critical to residents’ well-being, and fortunately, wireless technologies, mobile devices, social media networks, and virtual assistants make them possible and easily accessible.

But there’s a dark side to virtual socializing — for residents and for your organization. If not properly managed, cyberthreats can harm unsuspecting residents who may lack cybersecurity awareness and the tech-savviness to protect themselves. And, if your facility’s IT infrastructure isn’t properly secured, hackers can penetrate your networks and, among many other risks, access resident and other sensitive data.

Protecting seniors from cyberthreats

To ensure your residents have a safe experience online, protect their identities, and keep their PHI data  secure, CCRCs and other senior care facilities should consider these six actions:

  • Hold regular cybersecurity awareness workshops for residents to help them understand the risks of, and to identify, unsecured wireless hotspots, phishing scams, friendship scams, spoofed emails, and other current threats.
  • Perform wireless security assessments to detect rogue access points, malicious wireless hotspots, and disingenuous target marketing campaigns that use geofencing technology to target unsuspecting residents (as well as staff).
  • Conduct network security assessments to detect rogue devices connected to the organization’s internal and guest networks.
  • Use system security reviews to assess your IT safeguards, and be sure security measures are working effectively to protect against unauthorized access to your computer network, systems, and residents’ personal and PHI data.
  • Initiate periodic vendor assessments of business partners and service providers to ensure  they’re not introducing unnecessary risks and security exposures to your organization.
  • Conduct business impact assessments of various scenarios to create appropriate contingency plans that minimize disruption of operations, IT services, and residents’ quality of life and well-being.

Don’t let cyberthreats wreak havoc with your business or the residents you care for. Consider taking the steps above to protect your seniors and your organization, particularly mission-critical and resident-facing operations. The last thing you need is more disruption or risk in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis — a time when hackers are on the lookout for common vulnerabilities.

As always, if you have any questions about how to improve your cyber risk posture and strengthen your cybersecurity programs, including workshops to help your residents understand the threats, please give us a call.

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