If your company works in the healthcare industry, you're surely aware of HIPAA guidelines. Put in place by the U.S. government, these rules exist to help protect patient information from unauthorized access.
Naturally, many of these guidelines pertain to your business's IT infrastructure. Following our best practices ensures that your company's technology stays within HIPAA guidelines. But even if you aren't in healthcare, following these practices is important in order to take care of your clients.
Let's take a look at why.
A Proper Backup Plan
HIPAA requires that compliant companies can "restore any loss of data." In addition to this, you must have offsite copies of the backup, perform backups frequently, encrypt the backups to keep them secure, and have a written procedure in place.
From HIPAA's perspective, this helps prevent the loss of patient data. Failing to follow any of these rules means that the backed-up information could be open to attack by a malicious party, outdated, or incomplete.
By knowing exactly what you're backing up, when you're doing it, and keeping it encrypted, our backup practices help meet HIPAA guidelines. But even if you don't deal in healthcare, keeping strong backups is vital. Without them, a natural disaster, theft, or physical damage could cause you to lose years' worth of valuable data. Restoring from a backup usually takes less than a couple hours, compared to extensive time to build back what you had from scratch.
In the event your company experiences a data loss, backing up saves you lots of time. This in turn helps your clients because they won't experience major interruptions if they need service when you don't have their information.
Traceable System Activity
Another HIPAA guideline requires compliant companies to have mechanisms in place that record activity in your systems. This is so you can figure out who's responsible in case of information theft or deletion.
Our best practices include several layers of security to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information in the first place. Many solutions also allow for review and retrieval of activity later to assist with investigations.
Wireless Access Security
Wireless internet access is convenient, but it comes with some security concerns. Because of this, HIPAA includes many requirements about the security of your business's wireless equipment. This helps prevent unauthorized users from accessing your network and potentially gaining access to sensitive information.
Our best practices include using business-grade equipment. These devices allow you to change access controls for every user, allowing you to block former employees from connecting to your network. In addition, guests have an internet-only connection to help prevent access to your network files.
Physical security of wireless equipment is also vital. With access points in easily-accessible locations, anyone could reset the device and cause a problem. These issues slow down business and could open up your network to attack.
HIPAA Rules Make Sense for Everyone
The above are three specific examples of HIPAA requirements that apply to all businesses, but the overall concept is applicable too. While HIPAA regulations exist to prevent unauthorized access to protected health information (PHI), every company has information they want to protect:
- HIPAA requires you to analyze the company's potential risks to PHI. A security audit is a good idea for any company to see where their weak points are.
- HIPAA limits users to a "minimum necessary" guideline for access. Even in non-health companies, maintaining a similar policy for internet access, file usage, and more helps limit potential leaks.
- Under HIPAA, companies must be able to protect PHI from modification or deletion. Every company should want the same for their private information.
HIPAA may seem like a lot of work to implement, but it's all for the good of your own business. By protecting your company's sensitive information, access to computer systems, and more, you in turn protect your clients. An attack on your company's internal data from a former employee, malicious party online, or similar not only makes more work for you, but delays services for your clients.
At Houk Consulting, we put our best practices into action to help our clients operate as smooth as possible. Whether this helps you become HIPAA-compliant or just increase the security of your company, we'd be happy to talk with you about our managed services.