Category Archives: HIPPA

4 HIPAA Network Security Tips for Medical Offices

Technological advances have made it possible for medical offices to store more information on secure servers. This makes it vital for medical practices to implement procedures that encourage an optimal level of HIPAA network security. Not only will strong cyber security keep your patients’ sensitive information safe, but it will also promote adherence to HIPAA guidelines.

4 Ways to Foster Better HIPAA Network Security at Your Medical Facility

Improve Your HIPAA Network Security with These Tips

1. Place Emphasis on HIPAA Compliance

Whether you run a small, medium or large medical office, it’s important to emphasize HIPAA compliance to your employees. Even small offices can serve as the target for data breaches. Ensure you have the appropriate HIPAA network security procedures in place to prevent hackers from accessing your data. HIPAA violations can be extremely costly for your organization. Your company will have to pay to remedy the violation, and customers may be reluctant to use your medical office if they feel you can’t be trusted with their information.

2. Implement Strict Rules Regarding the Use and Creation of Passwords

Passwords are an essential layer of security for your medical office. You should make sure all your employees (regardless of their position) know to avoid using passwords that are easy to guess. Instead, they should create passwords that implement multiple items, like words, letters, numbers, and characters. Employees should keep passwords private and take care to change them regularly. They should avoid writing them down and use a secure password manager, like LastPass, instead. 

3. Utilize Safe Data Sharing Mediums

When you need to virtually store or share data, check that you always utilize a medium that encourages HIPAA network security. Stay away from programs designed for sharing and storing consumer data. Though these programs are effective for sharing files, they don’t contain the necessary safeguards to adequately protect private information. 

It’s also important to set up secure, encrypted networks that provide employees with a safe means of sending and receiving virtual files and data. Not only should your office use an internal Wi-Fi network separate from your guest network, but you must password-protect the network and use a strong firewall.

4. Make Sure Employees Understand Your Expectations

A set of comprehensive cyber security rules won’t be effective if your employees don’t understand your expectations. All employees should receive thorough training so they know what practices they’re required to adhere to, the steps they must take to document their adherence and how to use programs and safeguards designed to optimize network security. 

To keep your HIPAA network security up to date, Network Security Associates provides 24/7 monitoring of your systems, as well as frequent data backups and software updates. Contact us at 702-547-9800 to schedule your free network security assessment today.

HIPAA Data Security Breach Checklist

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) recently reported a HIPAA data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 350,000 Oregon residents. The source of this breach was a phishing email with a malicious link that multiple employees opened and clicked.

If your organization is the victim of a HIPAA data security breach, there are specific steps you must take to handle the incident in accordance with HIPAA regulations. The below is a checklist to follow.

1. Identify and Stop the Breach

Once a breach occurs, it’s vital to act quickly and identify the source. HIPAA guidelines state you must act to mitigate the effects of the breach. The sooner you know how it occurred, the higher your chances of lessening its impact. 

How you stop the breach will vary based on its source. You may need to revoke access privileges for certain employees, download critical security updates to your company’s programs or change how you retrieve and send private patient information. 

2. Notify the Department of Health and Human Services About the Breach

HIPAA rules require you to promptly report data security breaches to the Department of Health and Human Services. All notifications related to the data breach must be done within 60 days of discovering it. When you make the report, have the following information on-hand:

  • The nature of the breach and what information it exposed
  • The individual responsible for the breach (if known)
  • Whether any sensitive information was acquired or viewed by unauthorized individuals
  • The steps you’ve taken to mitigate damage related to the breach

3. Notify Patients of the Breach

You need to issue notifications to the patients whose information was exposed by the breach. The notification should let the patient know what steps they can take to protect themselves from the potential exposure of their information. It’s also required you tell the patient what you are doing to investigate the breach and prevent future breaches from occurring.

4. Issue a Notice to the Media Regarding the Breach

If the breach exposes the information of more than 500 patients, you must issue a notice to the media about it. This increases the likelihood affected patients will learn about the breach and understand what steps they should take. 

Take Proactive Steps to Protect and Increase Your HIPAA Data Security

Though it’s important for your organization to know how to properly handle a HIPAA data breach, you should take steps to prevent a breach from occurring in the first place. Working with a company well-versed in HIPAA data security, like Network Security Associates, can help you identify steps to take to secure your networks and boost adherence to HIPAA guidelines. Contact us at 702-547-9800 to set up a network inspection. This will identify any problematic areas and offer suggestions for better securing your patients’ data. 

4 Ways to Bolster Your Network Security for HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets forth standards to govern the handling of sensitive patient information. These standards apply to hospitals, medical offices and companies that handle insurance and billing. For businesses that must meet HIPAA standards, the ultimate goal is to protect sensitive patient information.

To do this, your organization must implement physical and network security measures to protect data according to HIPAA regulations. However, it’s not enough to simply enact these safeguards; adherence is another piece of the puzzle necessary for your company to comply with HIPAA security regulations. Here are a few things your business can do to fulfill HIPAA network security requirements and work toward compliance:

4 Ways to Get Your Organization Closer to HIPAA Compliance

Increase Your HIPAA Network Security by Employing These Tactics

1. Educate Your Employees

It’s important for your employees to understand the importance of following the necessary HIPAA network security procedures when handling sensitive patient information. Some workers may dismiss HIPAA regulations as “red tape,” but following them is essential to shield your company and its employees from lawsuits, criminal charges, professional sanctions, and financial losses caused by mishandling information.

Employees who understand the importance of these policies and the consequences of non-adherence (either intentionally or accidentally) are more likely to follow security procedures, like making sure antivirus and work software are always up-to-date. 

2. Enact Written Policies

HIPAA security rules require businesses to have written policies regarding their HIPAA network security procedures. Make sure your company’s guidelines are clearly defined in writing. Review the policies to make sure they thoroughly state your expectations. As your business evolves, update your written policies to reflect your company’s changing needs.

Another benefit of putting your HIPAA network security policies in writing is it helps you prove your business strives to comply with HIPAA guidelines regarding the treatment of sensitive information; during a HIPAA audit, you need evidence your company has made a strong effort to maintain compliance. Written policies offer proof that your company has specific procedures in place to protect sensitive patient information.

3. Document Everything

Many security breaches occur because employees fail to follow the company’s written procedures. One way to ensure your staff are acting in accordance to policies that promote HIPAA compliance is to require documentation of their adherence. Your documentation should also include any HIPAA violations that occur and the resulting consequences. During a HIPAA audit, your documentation will demonstrate employees are following your organization’s written policies and striving to act in ways that are compliant with HIPAA guidelines. 

4. Utilize Encryption Whenever Possible

Encryption is the process of converting data into a code readable only by parties that have the “key” to de-crypt the code. Make sure all your company devices, including laptops, tablets and smart phones, are encrypted. When employees work remotely, they should only use encrypted devices capable of adding protection to sensitive information. 

Boost Your HIPAA Network Security

The above are just a few ways to help get your company closer to being HIPAA-compliant. If you’re in need of increased network security for HIPAA, contact the experts at Network Security Associates. Our technicians will consistently monitor your network to ensure your data is secure and all systems are up-to-date. Contact us today at 702-547-9800 for more information and to schedule a network security assessment.

HIPAA-compliant Cloud Hosting Solutions for Greater HIPAA Network Security

When you set up cloud hosting for your business, you want to ensure your provider can help you follow HIPAA regulations regarding the security and exchange of sensitive information. Due to the complexity of HIPAA regulations, it is important for healthcare entities to work with a hosting provider who has experience adhering to these guidelines.

Utilizing a company well-versed in HIPAA network security makes it easier for your business to remain compliant and prevents consequences associated with HIPAA violations. Here’s what you need to know about HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting solutions:

Qualified Service Providers Have Distinguishing Characteristics

Get HIPAA Network Security You Can Trust with Network Security Associates

Hosting providers proficient at adhering to HIPAA rules have a few traits that set them apart from their counterparts. They conduct at a minimum annual audits to verify they follow HIPAA guidelines. You can also expect these hosting providers to use infrastructures qualified for use in HIPAA-compliant environments. Qualified providers know what steps your business must implement to protect and secure information covered by HIPAA. When initially setting up your hosting, a provider experienced with HIPAA network security can help you identify and remedy problematic areas.

HIPAA-compliant Cloud Hosting is Necessary to Avoid HIPAA Violations

Though penalties for inadvertent HIPAA violations are typically less severe than intentional breaches, they can still affect your business. Your company may have to pay a fee that varies from $100 to $50,000 for each violation. Extreme HIPAA violations can even warrant criminal charges or civil suits against your company. 

Consumers and other businesses may view a company with known HIPAA violations in a negative light, potentially causing your company to lose clients, putting your business’s financial health at risk. 

Avoid Penalties and Fines With a Company Well-versed in HIPAA Network Security

When it comes to HIPAA network security, you can rest assured your data is safe with Network Security Associates. Our technicians possess the knowledge and experience to keep your network secure while adhering to the strictest of HIPAA regulations. Contact us at 702-547-9800 today!

How to mitigate cyber threats for healthcare organizations with a hipaa risk assessment

Get a HIPAA Risk Assessment From Network Security Associates

When it comes to information security, healthcare organizations face multiple obstacles that make proper data security a challenge. Not only do healthcare entities have to follow HIPAA guidelines, but they also must ensure medical professionals have constant access to current patient information around the clock. 

The large amount of sensitive data makes it imperative for healthcare organizations to take multiple steps to mitigate cyber threats. You can increase the security of your organization by ordering a HIPAA risk assessment. This examines both technological and physical processes to ensure they adhere to HIPAA guidelines.

How a HIPAA Risk Assessment Works

Some of the technological processes reviewed by the HIPAA risk assessment include firewalls and the security of internal and external web pages. This assessment also looks at your written security procedures and whether your employees adhere to the guidelines for protecting confidential information. Your organization will receive input concerning what areas are potentially putting patient information at risk. 

What to Do After You Receive Your Assessment Results

Once you know what areas are at risk of a cyber threat, it is time to implement the necessary changes to bolster their security. Many organizations find it beneficial to outsource their IT work to a team of qualified professionals, like those at Network Security Associates, who specialize in HIPAA compliance. We offer solutions to improve your data encryption, increase the monitoring of your data access points, back up your data, and better the processes for maintaining equipment. Regular system checkups continue to safeguard your data from new or evolving cyber threats.

To schedule your HIPAA risk assessment, contact us at 702-547-9800 today.