By Daniel O’Shaughnessy, Delivery Manager at Better Security, Better Care
In the modern world, cyber attacks are a case of ‘when, not if’, and social care is no exception. During National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, Better Security, Better Care will be encouraging all care providers to check and improve their cyber security arrangements.
The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2023 reports that 59% of medium sized businesses recall breaches or attacks in the last year. Smaller organisations are identifying them less, but this may reflect that managers in smaller organisations view cyber security as less of a priority in the current economic climate, so are undertaking less monitoring.
As most care services are small or medium sized businesses, with valuable data such as staff, clients’ and the company’s bank details, they can be particularly vulnerable.
The impact can be significant and costly such as:
• loss of access to care plans and rosters, putting care delivery at risk
• financial losses due to theft from bank accounts, fake requests for payments, and ransomware demands
• the time lost through having to fix systems.
Many more care providers are using the free Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DPST) for social care to assess and improve their arrangements. That is real progress. The challenge is to be continuously alert to less obvious or emerging risks.
For example, if a software supplier is the victim of a cyber attack, it can impact on organisations using their systems. This happened last summer when a cyber-attack impacted NHS and social care software systems. One care provider had all the appropriate cyber security infrastructure in place, but they were still disrupted because the attack on the software company blocked access to their system. Fortunately, the care service had a strong business continuity plan in place.
As the manager explains: “We had already been backing up and downloading our employee rosters as part of this plan, so when the attack happened, we were able to check our downloaded rosters and move these over to a spreadsheet.”
We strongly encourage providers to take up the benefits of going digital – and plan for the potential risks. The DSPT brings you through all the issues you need to consider. And you don’t have to do it alone. You can access free support from the Better Security, Better Care programme – including 28 support organisations across the country.