In the last 10 years, data breaches have led to the loss, theft, or exposure of over 250 million healthcare records. In the process, they’ve exposed sensitive patient health information (PHI) and business records for many healthcare destinations, independent pharmacies included.

In the digital age, there are more opportunities than ever for hackers to track your pharmacy’s data and sell, store, or manipulate that data. Luckily, you can be on the defense to keep yourself — and your patients — safe from cyberthreats of all kinds.

Here are just a few strategies you can use to do it.

1. Implement Strong Access Controls

You already have a security system for your pharmacy, so why wouldn’t you have one for the patient data it protects? Strong access controls are one of the best ways to keep your data safe. There are a few types of access controls you’ll want to configure in your pharmacy. 

First up is role-based access control (RBAC). RBAC assigns specific roles to your team members, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access particular parts of your data systems. It's like having an office key that doesn't work anywhere else in the building.

In addition to RBAC, there's also two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA is an extra security measure that you use when logging in and out of your network. When you log in, you not only use a regular password, but you also get a unique code sent to your phone or email. 

2FA adds an extra layer of protection, making it harder for anyone who shouldn't be there to gain access to your data.

Finally, make sure you use strong passwords and update them regularly. With strong passwords in place, you can keep your data out of sight from prying eyes.

2. Encrypt Sensitive Data

Data encryption can be a complicated process, but think of it like this: encryption essentially turns your data into a secret code that only you and your team can decipher.

Encryption scrambles your data and makes it unreadable to anyone who doesn't have the right key. This means that even if someone were to intercept your data, they wouldn't be able to make any sense of it without the encryption key.

Data encryption isn’t just good practice; it's often a legal requirement under regulations like HIPAA to protect patient privacy and maintain the integrity of your pharmacy’s data.

There are a few different encryption protocols that can keep your data safe, such as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman). These protocols determine how the encryption and decryption processes work.

Work with your team to find the right protocol and implement it to better protect your data.

3. Update Software and Systems

Outdated software can create weak spots in your defenses that leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks. As such, you should keep any and all software in your pharmacy up to date so any bugs, glitches, or other hindrances aren’t an issue for your pharmacy.

Your pharmacy software system is among the most important systems to keep updated. The best software systems utilize automatic updates to keep you up to date without disturbing your workflow.

To learn more about top software vendors and which ones offer automatic updates, visit our Compare Software page.

Other systems you’ll want to update are your operating system, telehealth and digital communication tools, automation and packaging tools, and customer management solutions such as your point of sale.

4. Get Your Employees On Board

In the fight for data privacy, you can’t go at it alone. Get your team on board — from pharmacists to techs to clerks and delivery drivers — so all members of your team stay up to date on pharmacy data protocols.

Take part in team training sessions and regularly have conversations about security best practices.

Educate your team on access controls, phishing and scamming, and patient privacy guidelines from HIPAA. When everyone participates in data protection, your pharmacy is in much safer hands.

5. Use Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems

Firewalls are an excellent defense your pharmacy can use to ward off unauthorized access and external threats. When setting up a firewall, make sure you enable network segmentation, stateful inspection, and application layer filtering to have a better idea of who’s accessing your network.

Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) systems are another tool that you can use to your advantage. IDPS systems monitor network traffic for suspicious activity and unauthorized access. As an added bonus, you can also get real-time alerts for any suspicious activity in your pharmacy.

When you implement these systems, make sure that you also have a well-defined incident response plan in case you do experience a data breach. Test your systems periodically so you can identify vulnerabilities and ensure you’re getting the most out of them.

6. Comply with Data Protection Regulations

Finally, if you want to keep your pharmacy data safe, make sure you’re compliant with current rules, regulations, and guidelines surrounding data protection and patient privacy. 

Achieving compliance involves continuous effort from everyone on your pharmacy team. This includes risk assessment, safeguard implementation, staff training, incident response planning, and ongoing audits.

Non-compliance with data protection regulations can lead to severe consequences, including fines, legal action, and losing patient trust.

At the end of the day, patient trust is what matters, and patient privacy is one of the most important ways to maintain that trust.


In the digital age, cybersecurity threats are around every corner. But with the right protocols in place, you can keep your pharmacy data safe.

In this effort, make sure you have the right tools by your side — including a secure software system — and a team to support you. Take preventative measures, prepare action plans, and always prioritize patient privacy.

A few simple steps make all the difference.