This site is intended for health professionals only

‘Cyber security is as important as health and safety’, says NHS Digital

by Beth Gault
5 October 2022

Share this article

Health and social care workers must be vigilant about cyber security because it is ‘as important as health and safety’, according to NHS Digital.

As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month, NHS Digital is urging health workers to understand security risks and what they can do to reduce them.

‘Here in the NHS, getting cyber security wrong has the potential to cause significant impacts across the health and care system,’ said executive director of national cyber security operations, Mike Fell.

‘If a GP can’t access their system, they may not be able to share life-saving prescriptions with pharmacies or critical information with hospitals.’

They have made several recommendations for health workers to be aware of, including:

  • Use a strong password
  • Be aware of phishing scams and report any suspicious emails as an attachment to [email protected]
  • Be mindful of what you share. For example, don’t share your ID pass on social media
  • Watch out for tailgaters, where a person gains entry to protected areas by following a member of staff through barriers
  • Keep up to date with data training
  • Never leave computers or devices unlocked
  • Be careful when using public Wi-Fi

Mr Fell added: ‘I understand how busy everyone is across the NHS right now, but I would encourage everyone to make sure cyber security is a top priority.

‘Once you start taking these small steps, they will become a natural part of your day-to-day work, which will in turn help to make a massive difference to protecting crucial information as well as the safety of patients.’

NHS Digital is also looking for a supplier to help health and care organisations to implement network segmentation solutions, which would divide networks into subsystems or segments. This aims to help improve cyber resilience as it increases the difficulty for an attacker to reach their goal.

In a recent email to suppliers, NHS Digital said: ‘We are keen to engage with vendors/suppliers who either already provide such solutions to the NHS or have the capability to do so.’

Earlier this year, practice managers were urged to switch browser after Internet Explorer became unsupported by Microsoft and NHS Digital in June.

Practices were also told to install authentication software NHS Credential Management to improve both data protection and security.