November 10, 2022

Keeping us cyber-secure

Recently, there have been a number of cyber-attacks on prominent service providers – from telcos to health insurance providers.

These breaches resulted in personal data including names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, and email addresses of millions of users being exposed.

Ironically, many of them happened during Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The sobering fact is that there may be more. The Australian Cyber Security Centre received 67,500 reports in the 2020-21 financial year – up 13 per cent from the previous year. That is roughly one report every eight minutes.

Our Chief Information Officer, David Calvo, tells us that as a sector reliant on technology, we are just as vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

“Hospitals are increasingly reliant on computer systems to store and manage patient records, schedule appointments, and communicate with patients and other healthcare providers,” said David.

“However, these systems are also vulnerable to cyber-attacks that could jeopardise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patient data. A breach could result in the disclosure of sensitive patient information, the disruption of hospital operations and the loss of patient trust.”

“We all play a role in preventing this from happening and awareness is the best way for staff to understand how to protect their patients’ information from being accessed or stolen,” David said.

Northern Health provides a cyber security training module with this in mind, found here. The training module gets updated regularly to ensure Northern Health keeps up to date with the latest threats, like scams or phishing attacks. Phishing starts with a fraudulent email or other communication that is designed to lure a person into clicking on a link or giving personal information. The message is made to look as though it comes from a trusted sender.

The training helps our staff to understand how to protect themselves and our health service from online threats. It also helps to raise awareness of the importance of cyber security in the workplace.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) team is working in conjunction with the Department of Health to run a phishing awareness campaign that will commence in the coming months, to educate our staff on how to identify emails that could create a security breach.