One of the most common questions from clients looking for website design for medical professionals is, “how do we keep our website secure.” Medical website design can be complicated because we have to create an attractive, user-friendly website that clients can access from their phone or desktop without issue, while still maintaining security. HIPAA is typically at the forefront of every medical professional’s mind because of the fact that their practice’s reputation, as well as patient safety is at risk.
One violation of patient trust and security and no amount of medical marketing can help bring your reputation back to what it was before. The key to protecting your patients and your practice is to plan and prepare before an attack happens, not after.
When planning a design for healthcare websites, it’s important to think about how users will interact with it and what they want from it. Many practices choose to allow patients to access certain records and lab data and pay bills online. All of this requires a complex and thorough website protection plan to ensure that when a hacker comes along, they won’t be able to access your database.
But how do you protect your patients? Starting with these tips could help.
Tips to Protect Your Medical Website from Hackers
- Stay up to date. Regularly scour the web and talk to your marketing team about the very real threats that exist in cyberspace. Every bit of information you get will help you stay on the defense. And never be afraid to bring worries up to your marketing team. You may have noticed a threat that they could have missed. As soon as you notice a website update is available, make sure you install it. As hackers scan thousands of websites and hour searching for vulnerabilities, they alert other hackers to what’s vulnerable. If your website is flagged, you could be facing an attack from more than one hacker.
- Keep your site updated. Routine updates performed by your web team will help make sure your firewall and all other security measures are ready to protect you from any attacks that come your way. Just like you need to update your phone or tablet, your security system needs updates to understand new threats it may not have been protecting against.
- Make your network security as close to air-tight as possible. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods. You can have your login sessions expire after a certain period of inactivity. Ensure your requirements for a password are strong and include a capital letter, special character, and at least six other characters. Require passwords to be changed every 90 days or four times per year.
- Make sure you have a strong firewall. A firewall is almost like a bouncer at a bar. It screens every bit of data coming into your website and determines whether it is safe enough to let in or not. Firewalls help by blocking hackers and by filtering out unwanted traffic, including spammers and bots.
- Use robot.txt. Your robot.txt file on your website can help direct search engines to know what pages on your website should be ignored. This helps with your search engine rankings. But you can also use your robots.txt file to hide certain pages, making them harder for hackers to find.
- Limit uploading. As a medical professional, you’ll likely want to use your website to communicate with patients. This might include having them upload photos of something that’s afflicting them or exchanging messages with them. You can help prevent viruses from being uploaded and sent to you by limiting the number of uploads permitted, limiting the file size allowed, and scanning every upload before it’s allowed through.
- Don’t allow auto-fill as an option on your forms. This can be troublesome if a patient has this enabled on their computer and someone gets a hold of their device, accesses your site, and then manages to get the patient’s information from the auto-filled form. Instead, keep your forms simple so they’re easy to fill out and less in need of auto-fill.
- Use SSL. SSL (Secured Sockets Layer) allows information to be transferred between your website and database, without being read while being transferred. This both helps protects patients and, as recent hints from Google suggest, could help improve your website’s SEO ranking because of the trust that comes with an SSL.
- Always back-up your website. Backing up your website will help maintain the integrity of your data and makes restoring a website easier should information become compromised and the website needs to be temporarily taken down, then put up again. Your website should be backed up at least once a day, and every file should be backed up one added to the website.
- Disable right click. While some tools claim that they can hide website code and make it impossible for hackers to get in, this is far from the truth. A website’s ability to be rendered on a device depends on the code being able to be accessed. But one way to make it harder to view the code is to disable the ability to right-click on your site. This can also help prevent people from copying content on your site and saving images from it.
- Limit admin access. It might seem easier to give anyone who needs to access the backend of your website admin access, but be wary of being too liberal with rights. Limit who has admin access, what their user names can be, password requirements, the number of times a person can login (login attempts), and password resets. Hackers know how to get around rules, so you need to create new rules that make it nearly impossible to penetrate.
Protecting your medical website from hackers take a lot of thought and consideration. You have to get into the mind of a hacker and develop a site that is ironclad to their sneaky techniques. With a solid marketing and web team, and well-designed website you can stay ahead of them. Your patients and staff will thank you for the extra security that comes with knowing their data cannot be accessed and abused.