Protecting Patient Information From Healthcare Data Breaches
When it comes to the important task of ensuring sensitive patient information remains secure, explore how to prevent healthcare data breaches.
Are you concerned about healthcare data breaches? Perhaps you suffered a data breach within your network.
Regardless, you can protect patient information by upgrading your network routinely. An outdated network leaves your system vulnerable as cybersecurity threats evolve.
Plus, test your network regularly to see if your system can respond to threats accordingly. Above all, encrypt your data wherever possible.
Encrypted data makes it harder for hackers to access information. Regardless of your security choices, ensure that your team is aware of the latest protection measures.
This article will give further insight into healthcare data protection.
Encryption is one of the most important assets that will protect patient information. Even though HIPPA doesn’t require data encryption, it’s a useful asset in your arsenal. Data encryption is virtually impenetrable, and hackers normally struggle to decode the data.
You should encrypt the data that’s in motion and at rest. In-motion data entails data moving from one device to another. Data at rest means the data isn’t in motion.
Regardless, both steps can lead to vulnerabilities without the encryption process. To prevent data breaches, the data should contain encryption so the data remains protected across the board. For example, it protects remote workers or patients if they access information using unsecured devices.
Moreover, data encryption is a viable safeguard if someone steals a remote device. Additionally, data encryption can give your organization some cover. Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, stolen encrypted data doesn’t constitute a breach.
In addition to encryption, patients should have private networks. A private network provides encryption via the Internet.
The patient can plug their device into a virtual network, protecting their data in the process. A virtual network allows patients or other parties to transmit the data safely.
It’s a step above public networks, where the data is exposed and prone to hacking. Further, the user can use the network without anyone eavesdropping.
Routine HIPPA Training
In addition to protecting health data, your organization must adhere to HIPPA standards to avoid penalties. Your employees may already know about HIPPA compliance, but they could benefit from routine refreshers. Educate your workforce on the following standards:
- Accessing workstations and devices safely
- Establishing limited access to mitigate the risk of a data breach
- Implementing stricter authorizations
- Using tracking logs or audit reports to note all activity within the software and hardware
The main takeaway is that only authorized personnel should access the data. You can also ensure that all qualified parties have unique login credentials. Unique logins dispel the need to share usernames and passwords, which could end up in the wrong hands.
Moreover, take the time to introduce new cybersecurity threats that should be on their radar. Research threats that are specific to the healthcare industry. Above all, remind them about the consequences of data breaches.
If you work in a large medical center or hospital, you may have a public network. However, the network can leave your patients vulnerable, especially if they access sensitive information on the system.
An IT upgrade allows you to create sub-networks. Subnetting is the partitioning of a larger network. In addition to protecting patient health data, subnetting provides the following benefits:
- Enhancing network performance and speed
- Managing network growth and easing administrative burdens
- Lowering the amount of network traffic
- Streamlining your workflow
Overall, you can create subnetworks reserved for specific tasks.
- Example: You can create a sub-network for patient activity and another space for applications involving the transference of data.
To make sub-networks possible, upgrade your IT infrastructure. If you have the modern infrastructure in place, review the network to root out underlying vulnerabilities.
To be on the safe side, hire an IT team to foster the necessary upgrades. With that, ensure that the infrastructure abides by HIPPA standards.
Test the Network
Testing your network routinely is paramount, especially at a time when hacking attacks are on the rise. Further, test the network frequently. You should also apply different types of threats. For instance, you can implement a yearly test.
Also, conduct random tests to see how the network responds. If you’re proficient in technology, you can try to penetrate the network yourself.
If not, you can hire experts who can test the system on your behalf. They determine the viability of your system in several ways. For instance, they can conduct ethical hacking exercises.
These experts can adopt the mindset of a hacker and use the latest techniques to penetrate systems. Otherwise known as penetration testing, an expert can test the strength of:
- Web applications
- Mobile devices
- Network devices
They can also test the effectiveness of all passwords and provide recommendations on the best types of passwords to use. Additionally, experts can scan for central weaknesses in your system.
For example, they can use a port scanner to pinpoint all network users. As a result, you can ensure the ports remain configured to secured networks.
Is There a Foolproof Way to Prevent Healthcare Data Breaches?
Unfortunately, there’s no way of preventing healthcare data breaches entirely. A data breach can happen to any organization, regardless of the tightest security protocols in place.
However, you can decrease the chances of data breaches through strong encryption, employee training, IT infrastructure, and network testing. To get the best security upgrades, hire a security company.
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Author: Mike Cynar
Mike Cynar brings buyers and sellers together by producing reviews and creating non biased webpages allowing users to share their experiences on various products and services. He and his staff write informative articles related to the medical field, legal, and other small business industries.