HIPAA Rules for Database Security

There are several instances of late, where hackers have accessed an organization’s database to gain access to their sensitive data. Healthcare organizations are particularly appealing targets as they generally lack adequate security, and the wealth of information they hold on their patients is vast. HIPAA rules for database security require healthcare organizations to adopt advanced security practices. 

What are HIPAA Rules for Database Security?

HIPAA requires the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI) to be maintained with administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. 

The following HIPAA rules for database security must be implemented:

  • Data Encryption: data at rest (stored data), and data in motion (transmitted data), must be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access. Encryption masks data, making it illegible to individuals without a decryption key.
  • Encryption Key Management: requires decryption keys to be adequately protected, and backed up, to prevent unauthorized access to PHI.
  • Unique Login Credentials: allows access to PHI to be tracked and managed. Employees should never share their login credentials.
  • User Authentication: unique login credentials allows for user authentication.
  • Access Controls: designate different levels of access to PHI to employees based on their job functions. HIPAA requires PHI access to adhere to the minimum necessary standard, meaning that access to PHI should be restricted to only the information an entity or worker needs to perform their job role.
  • Audit Logs: track access to PHI to ensure that it is not being accessed without authorization, or accessed excessively. Audit logs establish normal access patterns for employees, utilizing unique login credentials. Tracking access to PHI limits the risk of insider threats to PHI, as it makes it easier to determine if employees are abusing their access privileges.
  • Data Backup: ensures that in the event of a breach or natural disaster, data can be restored quickly.
  • Dedicated Infrastructure: HIPAA rules for database security require sensitive data in a high-security infrastructure.
  • Patch Management/ Software Updates: ensure that all software is up-to-date, mitigating the risk of hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in software. Without managed updates, it may be difficult to implement software patches in a timely manner.
  • Data Disposal: requires PHI to be adequately destroyed, preventing data from being reconstructed. Paper records should be shredded, pulped, or burned. Electronic protected health information (ePHI) disposal requires harddrives to be either shredded, or degaussed to permanently erase data. Degaussing is a method of using a powerful magnet to wipe data from a harddrive.
  • Business Associate Agreements (BAAs): must be executed with all business associates (BAs) before they are permitted to create, store, transmit, or maintain PHI on behalf of a covered entity (CE). This can include third party database administrators, development teams, and software support vendors. A BAA is a legal document that determines the safeguards that a business associate must have in place. A BAA also determines which party is responsible for reporting a breach should one occur. BAAs limit the liability of both signing parties, as they state that each party is responsible for their own HIPAA compliance.

Do You Need Help Implementing HIPAA Rules for Database Security?

Compliancy Group gives healthcare providers and vendors working in healthcare the tools to confidently address their HIPAA compliance in a simplified manner. Our cloud-based HIPAA compliance software, the Guard™, gives healthcare professionals everything they need to demonstrate their “good faith effort” towards HIPAA compliance.

To address HIPAA cybersecurity requirements, and HIPAA rules for database security Compliancy Group works with IT and managed service provider (MSP) security partners from across the country, who can be contracted to handle your HIPAA cybersecurity protection.

Find out more about how Compliancy Group helps you simplify compliance and cybersecurity today!