One of the HHS cybersecurity best practices recommends that organizations implement network management processes to improve data security. Network security in healthcare is more important than ever. Healthcare organizations are vulnerable to hacking incidents when they fail to implement network security practices.
What is Network Management?
Network management is the process of securing and maintaining a network by implementing security practices. Healthcare network management requires organizations to implement measures that meet HIPAA requirements. These measures must ensure electronic protected health information (ePHI) security.
To protect ePHI, healthcare network security requires that administrative, physical, and technical safeguards be implemented.
When referring to network management, safeguards include:
Network management allows organizations to implement administrative safeguards in the form of user authentication and audit controls.
User authentication: healthcare organizations must be able to track user access to their network. To accomplish this, it is essential to provide each user with a unique user ID to access your organization’s network. A network setting known as “Wifi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)-Enterprise” can be used to set this up. WPA2-Enterprise is the easiest and most secure method to manage user access.
Audit controls: allow organizations to monitor user activity on their network. Monitoring ePHI access is required by HIPAA to ensure that it is not accessed inappropriately or excessively. Through audit controls, administrators can easily monitor suspicious activity on a network, such as a user accessing a network from a suspicious location or multiple failed login attempts by an individual user.
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Physical safeguards addressed by network management include physical site security and storage site security.
Physical site security: prevents device tampering. Installing cameras, alarm systems, and keypad locks that give each user can utilize a unique code.
Network security management: allows administrators to manage firewalls to prevent unauthorized access.
Network management addresses technical safeguards with data encryption and data backup and recovery.
Encryption: encodes data ensuring that unauthorized entities cannot read the information. Although not explicitly mandated by HIPAA, encryption is the only way to protect ePHI.
Data backup and disaster recovery: the process of keeping copies of important files and having a plan to recover those files when needed. HIPAA requires that exact copies of ePHI be backed up and stored in an offsite location. Healthcare organizations are also required to implement a disaster recovery plan and have a way to access data in emergency situations. To be HIPAA compliant, you must back up data frequently to prevent patient data loss.
Securing Your Network
Healthcare network security is one of the most effective ways to prevent breaches. Hackers that gain access to an organization’s internal network can spread malware throughout an organization’s entire system, infecting any device that connects to the network. Failure to implement effective network management can be detrimental to a business.
Implementing an effective network management system protects organizations and their patients. However, it’s challenging to do so without a dedicated IT staff. Organizations without IT staff should consult a managed security service provider (MSSP).
Before choosing a vendor to work with, it’s crucial organizations vet vendors to ensure they are HIPAA compliant. Compliancy Group partners with MSSPs across the country to provide clients with HIPAA compliant security.