HIPAA Compliance and Cybersecurity: How the Two Work Together

July 2, 2019 | BY Apptega

When you think of network security breaches, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you think of a bank or a major consumer organization. And for good reason - these organizations have indeed been the victims of significant data incidents in the last several years. Look no further than Target’s data breach or the infamous Wells Fargo data breach, which affected more than 24 million financial and banking documents.

There’s another common target of data breaches, though, and it’s one few people tend to think about: the healthcare system. In fact, ransomware and cyber attacks targeting health care are on the rise, and the tactics are getting scary. In early April of 2019, Israel-based researchers announced they had created a computer virus that added tumors into MRI and CT scans. These viruses intentionally promote misdiagnosis and are quickly starting to pose a major health concern.

When a network security breach hits a healthcare organization, it can wreak havoc. The biggest risk is the release of personal information, which a breach would crack wide open. If hackers managed to get in, they’d have access to endless patient health data, which they could sell to global entities with bad intentions.

This is where the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, comes in. HIPAA outlines requirements to keep the personal health information of clients and patients safe, even where hackers and spammers are concerned.

In this post, we’ll break down what you need to know about cybersecurity, HIPAA, and how the two intersect in our modern digital world. Let’s dive in.

Compliance is not Enough

In the modern world of digital information, simply complying with HIPAA rules is not enough to prevent data breaches. In fact, HIPAA compliance of yesteryear may actually decrease an organization’s healthcare cybersecurity defenses.

According to HIPAA Journal,

“The use of technology and data sharing are essential for improving the level of care that can be provided to patients, yet both introduce new risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of healthcare data. While policies are being introduced to encourage the use of technology and improve interoperability, it is also essential for cybersecurity measures to be implemented to protect patient data. Any policy recommendations must also include security requirements.”

Today, healthcare organizations that comply with HIPAA rules have met the minimum standards for security and healthcare data privacy as determined by the HHS. Unfortunately, simply being HIPAA-compliant does not mean a company is adequately protected against cyber attacks.

Organizations who want to ensure their patients’ electronic protected health information is safe have to go a few steps further.

Maintaining HIPAA Compliance and Digital Security

When it comes to cybersecurity, the healthcare industry has been slow to adjust. In many ways, it has lagged far behind other industries in adopting robust cybersecurity controls. Today, though, organizations are beginning to pursue new technologies and investing in new ways to keep patient data safe.

Fortunately, the steps to create solid cybersecurity for healthcare organizations are not outlandish. In fact, HealthcareIT recommends organizations simply take the following steps:

business hand pull rope open wrinkled paper show COMPLIANCE design text as concept
Establish a culture of security
Protect all mobile devices
Maintain good computer habits - both on and off campus
Use firewalls
Install and maintain high-quality antivirus software
Expect (and plan for) the unexpected
Control access to sensitive information
Limit network access
Use strong passwords and change them on a regular basis
Control physical access to devices

While the healthcare industry increasingly relies on internet connected technology, cybersecurity becomes more and more important. By implementing the ten tips above and following the HIPAA requirements, healthcare organizations can protect their data and ensure security for years to come.

For many healthcare organizations, it’s also wise to invest in cybersecurity management software to manage any of your frameworks. Apptega sells best-in-class software for healthcare organizations and a whole host of other companies. Request your free trial today!

Schedule My Demo

 

Subscribe to Get Regular Email Updates for Apptega's Blog