Cybersecurity Services

Using the SLAM Method for Cybersecurity

Using the SLAM Method for Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity landscape is always changing, but one thing remains the same. Hackers target companies that use and store protected health information (PHI). There is evidence to suggest healthcare data breaches due to phishing are on the rise. Safeguarding sensitive patient data has never been more important. You should have a robust HIPAA training program and cybersecurity measures in place. 

It’s also important to empower your employees with easy-to-use tools that will help them protect PHI. That’s where the SLAM method for cybersecurity comes into play. Read on to learn how healthcare businesses like yours can leverage the SLAM method for cybersecurity to identify and mitigate risks.

What is Phishing?

One of the most common risks to PHI security is phishing. A phishing scam lures victims with convincing emails or messages, urging them to disclose information or visit bogus websites. Phishing has the potential to expose your entire electronic health record (EHR) and all of its PHI to hackers and jeopardize your company’s security and reputation. 

According to the HIPAA Journal, “phishing is the most used attack vector in U.S. healthcare cyberattacks… Phishing attacks frequently result in data breaches of hundreds of thousands of records, and in several cases, millions of records have been stolen after employees disclosed their credentials or downloaded malware by responding to phishing emails.” 

Utilizing the SLAM Method for cybersecurity acts as a powerful defense against phishing attempts by giving your employees a quick and easy way to spot red flags. Phishing attacks can have major financial implications for healthcare organizations. This simple acronym could end up saving your company thousands of dollars.

Strengthening Your Defense Against Digital Threats

Protecting your business from threats like phishing is essential when dealing with PHI. Even with recent advancements in technology, phishing remains a persistent threat because it’s so effective. Every day, people receive these messages, and many don’t think twice about opening them until it’s too late. How can you strengthen your defense against these digital threats? You’ll need to use a variety of methods and be consistent in training your employees.

How HIPAA Compliance Protects You Against Phishing

Good news! The first step is one you’re probably already taking! Achieving HIPAA compliance not only ensures adherence to regulatory standards but also helps to shield you from potential healthcare breaches and hefty HIPAA penalties. The HIPAA Security Rule mandates robust safeguards to uphold the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI, fortifying your data against unauthorized access or disclosure.

Best Practices to Protect Your Patient’s PHI

Protecting your medical business from cyber threats, especially phishing attacks and potential HIPAA violations, is critical. The primary technical defense against phishing attacks is a secure email gateway or spam filter. This first layer of phishing defense analyzes all inbound and outbound emails for malicious content, spam, and junk mail. 

According to Microsoft’s security blog, “You can help prevent some of these attacks by banning the use of bad passwords, blocking legacy authentication, and training employees on phishing. However, one of the best things you can do is to just turn on MFA. By providing an extra barrier and layer of security that makes it incredibly difficult for attackers to get past, MFA can block over 99.9 percent of account compromise attacks.” 

You should also consider talking to a company that specializes in compliance management. After scanning through your systems to ensure you meet compliance standards, they will be able to supply your company with actionable guidelines and specific rules and tasks for your employees to follow. By following these policies and procedures, your company will be one important step closer to compliance. By instilling a culture of cyber awareness and encouraging your employees to prioritize security, you can effectively combat phishing attacks and enhance your business’ defenses against evolving cyber threats.

Phishing Prevention Training

Integral to HIPAA compliance is employee training, a cornerstone in the defense against cyber threats. Beyond technological solutions for thwarting phishing attacks, well-informed employees serve as your frontline defense. Even when you implement all the technological solutions available, your employees can still be the weak link in your security chain. That’s where regular security awareness training comes in. 

Given that a significant proportion of breaches stem from human error, adequately trained personnel are adept at identifying and thwarting phishing attempts, safeguarding their email accounts from compromise. In essence, investing in comprehensive employee training not only fosters compliance but also reinforces the resilience of your healthcare business against evolving cyber risks. Teach your team how to spot phishing attempts and train them to report any suspicious emails to our security folks. Think of it like giving your team the superpower to sniff out those phishing emails before they can cause any trouble.

Teach Your Employees the SLAM Method for Cybersecurity

While technology solutions like multi-factor authentication and continuing HIPAA and phishing training are essential, those solutions are not enough. Especially when it comes to training, effectiveness wanes over time. You need a protection method that remains fresh in your employees’ minds and is easy to implement. Your employees are busy caring for patients and their data. They need frequent reminders and simple techniques. Enter the SLAM method for cybersecurity. This is an intuitive approach to identifying phishing attempts that is easy to teach and remember.

What Does the SLAM Acronym Stand For?

The SLAM method for cybersecurity offers a simple yet effective approach to identifying and thwarting phishing attempts. But what does SLAM stand for? 

  • S stands for Sender Verification
  • L stands for Link Examination
  • A stands for Attachment Caution
  • M stands for Message Content Analysis

S for Sender Verification

Before opening any email, your employees should check the sender’s email address for authenticity. Hackers often impersonate trusted senders to trick recipients into opening phishing emails. It may seem unnecessary, but take the time to carefully examine the sender’s email address, as it can be a crucial indicator of a potential phishing attempt. Look for any discrepancies or irregularities, such as misspellings, unfamiliar domains, or variations in the sender’s name. Hackers are getting more sophisticated and may use tactics like spoofing or creating email addresses that closely resemble legitimate ones. Even though it may look like the email is from the company CEO or your manager, the email address might be slightly different. Always double-check!

L for Link Examination

Phishing emails generally contain links that enable hackers to steal a recipient’s login credentials and infiltrate their network. For instance, many phishing emails wrongly state that your login credentials for a particular company were compromised, providing a reset link in the body of the email. Just like with the sender’s email address, links contained in an email should be hovered over to check the legitimacy of the link. Is the URL directing you to the page it says it will? Are there misspellings in the link address?

A for Attachment Caution

Hackers still commonly use attachments in phishing emails. Your employees might see a familiar word document and open it without thinking. Cybercriminals have become savvy about infecting all types of documents with malware. There have even been PDFs with malware embedded. While you should never open an email attachment from any sender that you do not know, even when you do know the sender, you should not open unsolicited email attachments. 

To check the validity of an email attachment, you should reach out to the sender directly to confirm that the attachment sent was legitimate. It’s also a good idea to invest in an antivirus/anti-malware application to scan all attachments before opening them.

M for Message Content Analysis

If your company is anything like ours, your employees receive many emails every day and have to process them quickly. We’ve gotten great at scanning text, which helps us quickly process a lot of incoming information each day. But if you rush through a phishing email, you can miss some telltale signs that it’s fake. While phishing emails have become more sophisticated over the years, the content of the message itself can often be a dead giveaway. Emails that contain urgent requests for personal information, generic greetings, misspellings, grammatical errors, or strange wording should not be trusted.

What to Do When You Recognize a Phishing Email

When you identify a phishing email, it’s important to respond promptly and appropriately. Follow these three simple steps: 

  1. Mark the email as spam to prevent further exposure within your organization. 
  2. Report the phishing attempt to management immediately to ensure they can disseminate awareness and caution among other employees. Informing your IT department or Managed Service Provider (MSP) is vital; they can blacklist the sender’s domain address to block future malicious emails.
  3. Don’t forward the email to anyone, as this could inadvertently spread the threat.

Get Help Combating Phishing Attacks

Phishing stands as a formidable threat to the sanctity of healthcare data, often leading to significant breaches. Yet, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to thwart these attacks. What’s imperative is a multi-layered defense approach, known as defense-in-depth. For healthcare business owners, this means implementing a suite of protective measures, including a cybersecurity risk assessment, routine phishing awareness training for your team, and the adoption of multi-factor authentication. 

We offer expert guidance and protection to safeguard both you and your staff. Compliance management services from Alexonet help your business by constantly checking and testing your systems to make sure they meet the needs of your clients, the standards of your industry, and, of course, the laws in your area. Enhance your defenses against phishing attacks with tailored awareness training and robust security software solutions. Connect with Alexonet today or schedule a meeting to fortify your company’s resilience against phishing threats.

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