Locking in high quality care: cyber security fundamentals

Image depicting a web of technology

More adult social care providers than ever are making the transition to implement digital social care records. Going digital offers benefits that are making a positive change in our sector. However, in today’s digital world, new challenges emerge which emphasise the important duty care services have in protecting the information they hold. October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and a good time for care providers to think about their digital arrangements and consider the less obvious risks. 

Embracing technology for high quality care

The adoption of digital technology in care has introduced a range of possibilities. Care providers have embraced the digital shift for several reasons, and the advantages have reverberated throughout the sector. 

Efficiency and accessibility have improved as administrative tasks become streamlined, allowing care providers to access information from anywhere. Enhanced connectivity between care providers, residents and their families helps to ensure that everyone involved is well-informed about a person’s care needs. Data management has also been simplified and the risk of physical data loss considerably reduced. Additionally, data retrieval and analysis becomes much simpler for a care provider, contributing to more informed, effective decision making. 

Putting the lock on your digital systems

The benefits of going digital are tried and tested. But in the same way you would lock away paper files in a cabinet, you need to consider how to secure your digital systems. 

Cyber threats and data breaches are real dangers that could compromise sensitive information, damage reputation, and really disrupt a care service. As technology advances, so do the tactics of cyber criminals. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a cyber security expert to protect your digital systems. In fact, there are some simple steps you can implement to get started:

  1. Strong Passwords
    Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords for each account and ensure these are updated regularly. National guidance recommends using three random, separate words to form a strong password. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication for added security.
  2. Back-ups
    You should regularly backup your data to somewhere separate from your computer, like an external hard drive or on the cloud. In the event of a cyber incident, this could protect your data from being lost.
  3. Staff training
    Equip your staff with the knowledge they need to identify and prevent cyber attacks. Your staff are the first line of defence and it’s important they know how to spot a cyber threat. Better Security, Better Care have a useful list of training resources you can refer to.
  4. Regular updates
    Keep software, operating systems, and antivirus programmes up to date. Updates often include security patches to address vulnerabilities.
  5. Use the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT)
    The DSPT is a helpful self-assessment tool that all CQC-registered providers should complete at least once a year. It’ll help you take a bird’s eye view of your business to check and improve your data and cyber security arrangements. It’ll also help you evidence to clients and their families, commissioners, and regulators that you take data protection seriously. There’s lots of free support available to help you use the DSPT with Better Security, Better Care.

As Cyber Security Awareness Month comes to a close, remember that safeguarding your digital systems is not only a matter of protecting your business infrastructure but also protecting the privacy of the people in your care and staff who work for you. By implementing good cyber security practices and using the free resources available, you can adopt digital systems in your care service with confidence.



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