Healthcare News & Insights

Survey: Most businesses don’t protect against mobile security threats

Most organizations are starting to use smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, and health care providers are no different. Unfortunately, mobile security practices haven’t kept pace. 

According to one recent survey, 72% of doctors use smartphones and tablets in their practice. That can bring many benefits, such as the easy access to important patient information any time the physician needs it. However, that also means protected health information is being accessed on those devices, leaving that data open to potential mobile security attacks. Lost or stolen devices, mobile malware, and other incidents can lead to protected health information being breached.

Smaller practices are especially at risk of mobile security threats. Small businesses in general are rapidly adopting mobile devices — however their IT security practices aren’t keeping up with the increase in smartphone and tablet use, according to a recent survey from AT&T.

Nearly all small businesses (96%) use some type of mobile device. The majority (83%) also allow employees to use personal devices for work, and 41% let employees access business files with those devices.

Even though those businesses recognize the threat of mobile security breaches, most of them aren’t doing anything about it. Among the 623 small business owners or employees surveyed, 65% are concerned about the security of their mobile devices. However, only 32% said their company is doing anything to protect smartphones and only 39% are protecting tablets. That’s despite the fact that wireless devices appear to make organizations more vulnerable to attack — 37% of the businesses that use smartphones and tablets have been victims of breaches, compared to 18% of those that do not.

Protecting mobile security

Healthcare organizations must take steps to secure mobile devices if they’re being used to access protected health information. Here are some mobile security keys health IT departments should follow:

  • Use mobile device management (MDM) software to enforce security settings and manage and monitor employees’ personal mobile devices
  • Have a strict mobile security policy telling employees what they can and can’t do with personal devices, including what data they aren’t allowed to access with the device, and
  • Train users to be aware of the new security risks of using mobile devices.

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