If you are looking to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), then a strong security posture is essential.
Having a strong security posture means implementing a comprehensive strategy for protecting data, networks, and systems. This involves using various measures such as encryption, access control, and vulnerability management and setting up a robust monitoring architecture to detect any security breaches or policy violations. Ultimately, having a strong security posture is all about your organization having processes and procedures in place to enable you to quickly and appropriately handle cyber incidents.
How does a strong security posture help with HIPAA compliance?
While having a strong security posture is not a guarantee that you’ll achieve HIPAA compliance, the following five benefits can help you get there:
1. Robust access controls and authentication measures
Access controls determine who can access protected health information (PHI), when they can access it, and what they can do with it. Authentication measures, meanwhile, validate an individual’s identity before allowing them to access PHI. Implementing both security controls is essential for organizations looking to achieve HIPAA compliance, as it creates a strong barrier against unauthorized access.
By ensuring that only authorized individuals can view and use PHI, you can quickly detect and address any potential data breaches or policy violations before they become more serious issues.
2. Stringent encryption protocols for storing and transferring PHI
Having strong encryption protocols helps organizations meet their obligations under HIPAA’s Security Rule, which stipulates that covered entities should take reasonable steps to protect PHI from unauthorized disclosure or use while in transit via electronic communication. This is because encryption takes plaintext data like PHI and converts it into ciphertext using an algorithm. The ciphertext is then decrypted with a key that only authorized users know or have.
|Read also: Why you MUST protect your customer data|
3. Established breach reporting procedures
HIPAA’s Breach Notification Rule requires covered entities to notify affected individuals within 60 days of discovering a breach involving unsecured PHI. Having predetermined protocols can help you identify a breach more quickly and thus meet this deadline.
After all, having streamlined procedures for when an incident occurs enables organizations to quickly gather the necessary information, assess the situation, and take action as needed. This helps guarantee that all involved parties, such as healthcare providers, patients, and insurers, are aware of the breach and receive timely notifications about any steps being taken to mitigate damages.
4. Regular system monitoring processes
Regular system monitoring involves using various tools such as network scanners and security analytics to quickly and efficiently detect vulnerabilities or policy violations in your network and systems. For instance, if data backup is not running correctly, regular monitoring allows you to identify the problem right away and take immediate steps to correct it. This proactive approach ensures that you are meeting HIPAA regulatory obligations while also maintaining customers’ and other stakeholders’ trust.
Having visibility into potential risks through regular monitoring also helps you keep abreast of the latest security threats and trends so that you can update your policies and procedures to remain HIPAA-compliant.
5. Thorough documentation regarding any IT infrastructure changes
Keeping documentation regarding any infrastructure changes — especially those made in accordance with HIPAA regulations — is a critical part of achieving HIPAA compliance. This is because a detailed report allows you to easily keep track of any modifications made to your systems or policies and help ensure that your infrastructure is up to par with the latest HIPAA requirements.
In the event of a breach, you can also use documentation as evidence that your business took the necessary steps to secure your data. Also, documentation serves as a key reference point during audits and helps your organization prove its commitment to protecting privacy.
At predictiveIT, we understand the importance of building a strong cybersecurity posture to ensure HIPAA compliance. This is why we offer comprehensive and customizable solutions that will help you protect PHI and meet regulatory standards. Contact us today to learn more.