HIPAA, Cybersecurity

When looking at the most common security intrusions, many people immediately think of banks and other major consumer organizations. Although healthcare institutions are becoming prominent targets for hackers, the number of attacks is rising astronomically.

Healthcare providers must be proactive by deploying suitable cybersecurity safeguards to ensure HIPAA compliance and secure patient data as threats become more and more sophisticated.

What Is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 safeguards Patient Health Information (PHI) and electronic documents held or communicated by Covered Entities (CE) or Business Associates (BA). It encompasses paper, digital, and oral PHI. PHI includes name, patient records, demographic details, contact info, SSN, etc.

Any CE or BA working with PHI must have the physical, network, and process security to comply with HIPAA. Denver’s public health facility paid $400,000 in HIPAA breach penalties after a phishing assault compromised 3200 patients’ data. A compliance program including cyber security training and skills development could have prevented this.

Why Is Cybersecurity Important For HIPAA?

HIPAA imposes tight restrictions on the transmission, storage, and processing of patients’ health information. HIPAA compliance does not, however, protect a business from cyberattacks or breaches. Additional safeguards must be put in place to secure the electronic health records of your patients.

While a robust cybersecurity plan can help achieve your compliance goals, the following practices should be considered to prevent data breaches or other complications:

Protect Patient Data

A patient’s medical record contains exceedingly private information. Protecting patient data in transit and at rest is essential to ensuring its safety. Encrypting critical files before storing them or encrypting the storage device helps secure data at rest.

Secure Remote Care

Providers must define explicit rules for remote deployment of healthcare products and comprehend how HIPAA affects remote work. Organizations can also assist remote care security by equipping personnel with pre-configured devices and using encrypted VPNs to secure internet activities. VPNs enable a safe, encrypted connection between the workplace and home networks.

Protect IoMT

Updating or extending network passwords can help safeguard IoMT devices. Companies can also fix security weaknesses, use detection mechanisms to proactively manage network activity, or segregate systems to prevent unauthorized users from accessing data. These can assist healthcare providers in avoiding assaults and securing the network.

Use Firewalls

Firewalls secure your company and ensure HIPAA compliance. Firewalls defend the network against early assaults by limiting the traffic entering and departing, thereby creating a secure perimeter. Any data on your network can be accessed by anybody or any software if you don’t have a firewall in place.

Restrict Access

Network access restrictions may appear straightforward, but many businesses approve outside access without knowledge because of hyper-simple network technologies. To prevent data leakage, visitors’ devices should not have network access until inspected. Use zero trust security to verify everyone and everything accessing your network’s resources.

Prepare for Disaster Recovery

“Expect the unexpected,” especially when it comes to your company’s sensitive information. Developing an effective disaster recovery strategy is critical to ensuring that employees know what to do if an incident occurs and are ready to respond swiftly. Having this in place will make the recovery process for companies after an attack much more manageable.

Conclusion

Monitoring cybersecurity and the essential preventative steps to stay HIPAA compliant are becoming increasingly challenging as the healthcare business relies more and more on internet-connected devices. Continuously monitoring your cybersecurity posture, taking control of third-party vulnerability, and ensuring compliance with legislation is critical to preventing sensitive healthcare information.

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