How HIPAA Compliance Prevents Hacking
Hacking should be a concern for any business, but especially those working in healthcare. Hackers often target healthcare organizations to gain access to the sensitive information held on patients (protected health information). While hacking incidents seem to be unavoidable, there are certain ways in which you can better prepare your organization against hacking.
Conduct an Annual Security Risk Assessment and Implement Remediation Plans
As part of HIPAA requirements, organizations working with patient information must conduct an annual security risk assessment (SRA). SRAs enable healthcare organizations to better protect themselves against hacking incidents as they assess the organization’s security practices to identify risks and vulnerabilities to sensitive data, such as PHI. To be HIPAA compliant and bolster cybersecurity, it is important to implement remediation plans to address deficiencies identified by conducting your SRA.
Security Policies and Procedures
HIPAA security policies and procedures dictate minimum measures that organizations must take to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI). These measures include encryption, user authentication, access controls and audit logs, all of which make it more difficult for a hacker to infiltrate your organization’s systems.
Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Employee error is one of the leading causes behind breaches. Hackers often target employees through phishing emails by posing as a trusted entity, meant to trick employees into clicking a malicious link or divulging login credentials. As a major risk factor to your organization’s security, it is important to regularly train employees (HIPAA requires annual training) on cybersecurity best practices, and particularly, how to recognize phishing attempts.
Business Associate Agreements
Healthcare providers are often targeted by hackers through their business associates, as many fail to adequately safeguard PHI. This is why the HHS requires business associates to be HIPAA compliant and enter into business associate agreements (BAAs) with their healthcare clients. BAAs are legal contracts that require each signing party to be HIPAA compliant, and be responsible for maintaining their compliance.