Tag Archives: Network Security Associates

The Importance of HIPAA Network Security Assessments for Medical Organizations

Have you assessed your digital risk lately? With medical practices more reliant on technology now than ever before, there’s also more to lose from breaches, natural disasters, technical failures, and other digital threats. 

How Lack of Risk Analysis Can Hurt Your Business

Regulatory Consequences
The most straightforward potential cost of digital security failures for a medical practice is, of course, fines and other punitive measures resulting from regulatory violations. HIPAA network security is vitally important, and yet, a staggering number of small practices retain dated systems or practices which would result in fines if reported. HIPAA Risk Assessment

Negligent violations of HIPAA can cost anywhere from $100 to $25,000 per violation — and negligence doesn’t just include knowing carelessness, but failures that should have been identified. And that’s just for problems which might stem from your HIPAA network security. A network security assessment ensures you don’t have any of these basic failures of due diligence, which can cost you thousands of dollars in penalties. 

Recovery Costs
Recovery after a HIPAA network security breach, natural disaster or technical failure costs exponentially more in an unprepared system than it does in one properly safeguarded. With the proper measures in place, this means identifying the point of failure and rewinding the necessary components. Without proper measures, this can be an agonizing process of wiping systems, reinstalling and reconfiguring them and monitoring new systems to make sure you don’t reintroduce compromised data to your system.   

Civil Liability
Of course, let’s not ignore one of the biggest potential losses your business might face by not conducting risk analysis: civil liability. Breaches of the patient or employee privacy resulting from poor network security could open your organization up to any number of lawsuits. Risk assessments not only identify flaws that cause such breaches, but they also protect your organization against accusations of negligence; if you are diligence in your protection of records, then you have much less to worry about even if a breach were to occur. 

Loss of Reputation
The costs associated with a loss of reputation can be difficult to assess, but it’s potentially the greatest injury to your practice in the event of a security breach. Patients don’t like to hear the doctor they go to leaked personal information; medical professionals deal with some of the most private, sensitive information. Potential patients may associate your practice first and foremost with a data breach they heard about, and existing ones may seek care elsewhere. 

Safeguard Your HIPAA Network Security

A security risk assessment will analyze your existing HIPAA network security measures and identify areas of weakness. Network Security Associates also offer data protection services to ensure HIPAA compliance. Contact us at 702-547-9800 to learn more.

The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Network Security & Privacy

Data indicates that approximately 43 percent of cyber-attacks specifically target small businesses. Small businesses are particularly susceptible to data breaches due to intentional or inadvertent mishaps regarding network security.

The financial costs related to a data breach extend beyond the steps necessary to correct the breach. Many customers also take their business elsewhere after a breach, due to concerns over network security. Estimates state 60% of small businesses cease operations within 6 months after a cyber-attack.

Steps to Take to Maintain a High Level of Network Security

1. Activate Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication should be enabled when possible to make it harder for virtual thieves to log into your accounts. Here’s how two-factor authentication works: once you input your password, you’re sent a unique code to a device or account only you have access to. 

For example, you might receive a text message to your mobile device. You then have to input the code to resume logging on. If a hacker can crack your password, two-factor authentication acts as a secondary layer of network security.

It also acts as a notification if someone is trying to log into your accounts. You’ll know something is wrong if you receive an alert or message regarding an account you aren’t trying to access.

2. Fortify Your Browser Privacy
You should take multiple steps to maximize the privacy of your internet browser. Not only does this make it more difficult for thieves to steal private information, but it also protects your browser privacy. 

Start by using a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your data secure when accessing the internet or sharing information via a potentially unsecured connection. You should also make sure that you only visit websites that start with “https.” This indicates the site has an SSL certificate to encrypt user activity and information, keeping them secure. 

Add a firewall to your devices. A firewall prevents potentially dangerous visitors from accessing your website; it does so by acting according to a set of rules and stipulations regarding visitor traffic that you provide. You can also use the firewall to protect your email account. 

3. Bolster Your Passwords
Make sure you password-protect all possible accounts and take steps to use strong passwords. Though a hard-to-guess password on its own doesn’t offer optimal network security, it’s a great first-level of protection. 

You should avoid using passwords that incorporate personal and easy-to-find information, like your hobbies, favorite sports team, birthdate, or social security number. A hacker who steals your info will likely be able to easily guess your passwords. See that your passwords use a combination of numbers, characters and letters. It’s also important to regularly change them. Avoid writing them down, and never share them with other individuals. 

Network Security Associates can help keep your data safe with ‘round-the-clock monitoring. We offer a variety of services to ensure you receive maximum network security at all times. Call 702-547-9800 to schedule a network security assessment today.

Take the Fear Out of Encrypted Email

When some people think of encrypted email, their minds conjure up images of secret codes, espionage, and a scene right out of Mission Impossible, where the message will self-destruct. Also, they may think that it’s just too difficult to send an encrypted email, as the recipient won’t open it, or their email simply doesn’t need to be encrypted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are 3 facts that you may not know about email encryption.

Tales of the Encryption

  • Email is like a postcard: it has no privacy.
    Many people believe an email is just sent from one computer to another, the reality is an email can travel along an intricate path from the time it’s sent to the time it’s received. Without proper encryption, there may be multiple opportunities for the email to be intercepted.
  • Avoid data leaks caused by human error.
    Email can be set to automatically be encrypted if sensitive and confidential information such as credit card numbers, bank account information, and social security numbers are detected in an email. Medical facilities must use encrypted email when sending PHI to be HIPAA compliant.
  • Emailing a large document can be cumbersome. Some email platforms limit the size of an attachment. A side perk of some email encryption services is that email file size limits can be circumvented (shh… don’t tell IT).

At Network Security Associates your data security is our Number One Priority. Adding email encryption to your email is easy and affordable. Contact Network Security Associates today for information by filling out the form below or call us at 702-547-9800.

Does VoIP Offer Better Network Security Solutions than Traditional Telephony?

The advantages of VoIP grow every year for businesses, but it’s important for practices with HIPAA security concerns to carefully vet this and other technologies before adopting them — or, barring that, carefully assess the technology they’ve already adopted to close loopholes and maintain stringent compliance. Here’s a look at how VoIP compares to traditional telephony for network security solutions, what VoIP security looks like and how to ensure your system is as safe as possible.

VoIP Vs. Traditional Telephony

Traditional telephone services operate using what’s known as the public switched telephone network (PSTN), but did you know even traditional PSTN connections now travel, in part, over the internet? This means, any vulnerabilities which exist in a VoIP system can exist in a PSTN system — with the added concern that it’s relatively simple for a determined attacker to physically hack into your analog telephone lines and record anything and everything that comes through. 

Exposure on PSTN only grows when you add various modern amenities, such as PBX used for business lines; in these cases, and many others, a well-encrypted VoIP system is far more secure and reliable. Add in PBX component failures, dated security protocols as PSTN and PBX fall out of favor, and VoIP offers a consistency that’s difficult to argue with — and far safer for your patient, vendor and employee data to travel on. 

Maximizing Security

Get the Best Network Security Solutions from Network Security Associates

Of course, all VoIP is not created equal. There are a few factors you’ll want to consider:

  • HIPAA-compliant service providers are a particular subsection of VoIP providers, so don’t assume just any business telephone service will be adequate. Certain VoIP features are wholly non-compliant and must be disabled, while other aspects of HIPAA compliance involve the technologies used by the company; encryption, handling of data between endpoints, etc. 
  • Otherwise, user error will be the biggest risk with VoIP security (and most other network security solutions). Make sure you educate yourself on digital best practices, then disseminate this information to everyone who will be using your networks — for their sakes and the sake of your practice. 

Logging and Proactive Protection

VoIP also allows for easy and effective logging of all inbound and outbound traffic, be it calls or other media. This makes it simple to identify problems when they arise, or catch them via monitoring if you pay for in-house or third-party network security solutions. 

Modern telephony, even traditional solutions, must have some level of exposure to hacks, accidental breaches and more. VoIP, by comparison, offers a wealth of protective measures that overlap with and integrate with existing network security solutions.

Get Better Network Security Solutions with VoIP

To put it simply, if you’re worried about secure phone lines, VoIP can be the stronger option for a modern practice. Make sure you take the proper measures to secure your lines, ensure safe end-user behaviors and track what’s happening in your system, and you’ll never be taken by surprise. To find out more, contact Network Security Associates today and inquire about our VoIP, HIPAA compliance checks and other network security solutions.  

Cloud Security and Remote Computing for Medical Practices

Increase Your Cloud Security with NSA’s Cloud Services

Cloud-based computing has been around for some time now, although it didn’t become heavily utilized until a few years ago. Cloud-based computing makes it possible to store any kind of data to an internet-based drive, and in return, access it anywhere in the world (as long as you are connected to the internet). As the owner of a medical practice, you may wonder if this is suitable for your day-to-day operations or have questions about cloud security. Here are some major benefits of cloud computing for medical facilities: 

Eliminate Local Storage
As your medical practice grows, you will need to expand the data storage available on-site. This forces you to invest in internal data servers. These servers are not only expensive to purchase and update, but as your internal server grows, more and more energy will be used (both to keep the hardware running and to keep it cool). With cloud-based computing, you can eliminate this internal bulk. You will no longer need to constantly purchase new server blades or update the hardware and software associated with it. 

Thanks to cloud-based computing you’ll free up space in your office, cut down on energy consumption and have 24/7 access to storage options you do not need to maintain or update yourself. By removing the local server, you create more space and save money in the long run.

Avoid Data Crashes
There’s nothing worse than a hard drive crash. If an internal server or hard drive crashes at your office, you’ll be forced to find ways to transfer the information to a new drive. Hopefully, you backed everything up prior to the crash. If you didn’t, you’ll need to find a professional service capable of extracting files from a damaged drive. If the files have been corrupted, it may be impossible to recover the information. 

With cloud-based computing you never again have to worry about this. Your information is continually backed up and stored off-site. In addition, the cloud can be accessed from anywhere, which makes it easier to work remotely.

Boosted Security
Data security is critical to protecting both your business and the personal information of your patients. Secure storage of information via the cloud reduces the risk of others getting access to your data. This can help keep your practice compliant to HIPAA regulations.

Get Ongoing Cloud Security You Can Trust

Network Security Associates offers an array of services to bolster your cloud security and safeguard the files you have stored on it. We continually monitor your systems to safeguard your information against fire, theft and natural disasters. Your servers and software will be updated on a regular basis, and you will have access to important files from virtually anywhere. For more information on our cloud services, contact us at 702-547-9800 today.

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.

Improve Your Network Security with Strong Firewalls

Hacks and network breaches have become commonplace, with corporations around the world constantly feeling the threat of external entities attempting to steal information. As a result, you need to implement the highest level of network security. One of the oldest, most essential elements of your network security is a firewall.

How Firewalls Strengthen Network Security

Maintain Your Network Security with NSA

Software and Hardware Firewalls
There are two forms of firewalls your business may want to implement:

The first is a software-based firewall. This is part of a computer’s operating system and functions much like anti-virus software. It establishes a barrier around the computer that blocks external applications attempting to gain access to the computer. Essentially, it is a software gatekeeper to a computer. 

A hardware firewall is another type, but this kind of firewall runs between the internet and your network. As a business, you’ll want a business-grade firewall. Because you have such a large quantity of data and numerous work stations and computers, you’ll want a hardware firewall configured and setup. This is designed to prevent malware, viruses and other undesirable files from moving into your network. Once inside the network, these files can wreak havoc on the entire system and move not only between stations but within the data server itself. 

Multiple Defensive Positions
The hardware firewall will be installed to function as one of the primary points of defense. The business-grade firewall will oversee the flow of information into the network and protect individual computers from possible threats. When combined with the software firewall, which works separately on each computer system, the network and individual stations are protected with the multiple layers of protection. This way, if a computer has downloaded data and has it stored offline, this information is not at risk of being stolen. While not the only line of defense, firewalls provide important security measures for your entire business network. 

Schedule a Security Assessment

In addition to firewalls, a network security assessment can aid your existing security measures. Your systems will be analyzed to determine if there are any areas where security needs to be increased. This is an important proactive step to ensure all areas of your network are secure and protected. At Network Security Associates, we’ll not only perform a network security assessment, but we also provide managed IT services to monitor and maintain the safety of your data. Contact us at 702-547-9800 to learn more about our services today.

Keys to Making Excellent Conference Call Small Talk

Follow These Tips to Mitigate Awkwardness on Conference Calls

The beginning of the conference call is a particularly vulnerable period. It can take a few moments for all the callers to phone in, and it can be awkward to try to make conversation while you wait. Get your conference call off to a strong start with these small talk tips:

1. Make Sure Each Call Has a Designated Leader
An easy way to make sure your calls go smoothly is to assign a leader to direct each one. The leader will be responsible for initiating conversation if silence starts to emerge and will take steps to involve the other collaborators in the conversation if the same two or three callers are the only ones talking. If a team member begins to rant, the call leader can get the meeting back on track.

2. Consider Directing Questions to Specific People
It can be uncomfortable when one or two people knowingly or unknowingly take over the conference call. Prevent this from happening by directing questions to specific people on the call. If you know a team member has just returned from vacation, you might ask them about their trip. Someone may be working on a big project or undertaking; ask this person how it’s going (even if the project isn’t related to work). Not only does this mitigate any awkwardness, it also helps you build rapport with team members.

3. Check That Your Equipment Functions Properly
One of the easiest ways to help conference call small talk flow smoothly is to make sure that your equipment functions correctly. The last thing you want is for your conference call to begin with multiple individuals requesting technical assistance or asking questions about the equipment no one on the call knows the answer to. Encourage employees to test their systems before the call. You may even want to implement regular training sessions regarding the equipment and how to correctly use it. 

4. Broaden Your Conversational Topics
You want to avoid controversial topics (like politics or potentially volatile current issues), but don’t feel as if your small talk must be limited to the weather or company matters. It’s fine to branch out and incorporate more personal conversation. Some topics that are generally acceptable include travel plans, weekend activities, hobbies (especially activities that multiple team members enjoy), upcoming sporting events, and current entertainment (movies, TV shows and music). Use discretion; avoid bringing up an event, hobby or movie with mature or contentious subject matter.

These are just a few tips to help you make the most of conference call small talk. Remember, even on an internal call with colleagues, it’s important not to request or provide sensitive information, such as passwords. This, along with other network security best practices, will help ensure your data remains protected. To determine whether or not your company is in need of greater cyber security, contact us at 702-547-9800 to schedule a free network security assessment today.

How Much Would Network Downtime Cost Your Business? 4 Important Factors to Consider

As a business owner, you want to make sure you and your employees stay as productive as possible during working hours. When something goes wrong, it can cost you in a big way. 

Calculating the Cost of Business Downtime

When you calculate the cost of downtime, you need to look at more than just lost revenue. Your total cost also includes your recovery costs, the cost of lost productivity, and other intangible expenses. 

Lost Revenue

To calculate lost revenue, simply determine your weekly revenue and divide it by how many hours you operate each week. Multiply this by the number of hours your business was down and multiply your total by uptime. “Uptime” is simply the percentage of your business revenue that’s dependent on your internet access and other programs working correctly. For example:

$120,000 weekly revenue / 40 hours per week = $3,000/hr.

$3,000 x 8 hours downtime x 80% uptime = $19,200 in lost revenue.

Recovery Costs

Until you fix the problem, you will continue to lose revenue. Recovery costs include repair and replacement services, data recovery and other expenses. This can vary greatly depending on the situation.

Loss of Productivity

While your business is down, you won’t earn revenue, but you’ll still have to pay your employees. To calculate this cost, look at the number of employees you have, each employee’s hourly salary, and the percentage of each employee’s productivity that’s dependent on uptime. 

Assume you have 10 employees who each make $25 per hour and all of their jobs are 50% dependent on uptime. 

10 employees x $25 per hour x 8 hours downtime x 50% uptime percentage = $1,000 in lost productivity.

The Impact of Interruptions

You don’t need a full outage to experience a serious loss of productivity. Even if your systems are running slowly or are working intermittently, every time there’s an interruption, it costs you. This may include employees contacting you to let you know a system is down, taking calls from clients who would normally do their business online or stopping work to call your IT company.

Studies suggest after every interruption, we need approximately 23 minutes to get re-focused on the task at hand. This can add up quickly and end up costing your company greatly.

Intangible Costs

Your intangible costs can include the loss of a potential lead who has no patience for your 404 error, loss of customer trust, and issues with employee morale. If the interruption is serious enough, publicly traded companies may even see their stock prices plummet. 

Reduce Downtime with Proactive Measures

While some causes of downtime, like power outages or natural disasters, can’t be avoided, you can still take steps to reduce damage. One of the most common problems is a lack of updated software programs and computer equipment. Fortunately, this hazard is easy to reduce or eliminate. 

Many small and midsized business owners try to save money by avoiding investments in IT upgrades, but this can end up being a far costlier choice, as your data will not be protected, and your company will be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Contact us at 702-547-9800 to schedule a network security assessment.

3 Process Documentation Best Practices

Though comprehensive process documentation is beneficial for many tasks, it’s essential when implementing technology to enhance your network security. Your process documentation must report the required steps to successfully complete a task or project, and it should also state who is completing the necessary tasks to fulfill a process. Proper process documentation ensures there is a sense of standardization every time a task is completed.

3 Process Documentation Best Practices

If your organization is in the gaming or healthcare industry, efficient process documentation provides evidence that your organization strives to adhere to the guidelines set forth by gaming or HIPAA standards. Follow these best practices to thoroughly document your processes.

1. Implement a Variety of Tools for Documenting the Process

It’s important to integrate multiple types of media when documenting your processes for maximizing your network security and enhancing your technology. Don’t feel as if you must stick to written content when documenting or explaining a process. Videos, interviews, group collaboration, and photographs are just a few items that can assist with documenting how to complete a process and determine whether the proper protocol is being followed. If you feel like your process documentation is lacking, Network Security Associates can offer tips for enhancing your documentation procedures.

2. Check the Quality of Your Documentation

For process documentation to assist your company with bolstering its technology and network security procedures, it’s essential to use high quality documentation. Your documentation should be well-written, explain the purpose or goal of the task, and reiterate why the task is essential for a secure organization. You should also remove information that feels redundant or no longer applies to the process. 

Any documents and media should be well-organized; ideally, you should include a table of contents and written headers to make it easier for employees to efficiently use the document.

3. Re-evaluate the Process as Needed

Process documentation can also assist your company with revising or updating its procedures to boast a higher sense of network security. This makes it vital for your organization to periodically re-evaluate the process, using the documented procedures. It’s also wise to make sure your documentations contain only up-to-date information and don’t cover outdated or old procedures. 

You can eliminate or revise steps that aren’t efficient, or you might utilize steps that have proven themselves helpful in other processes. Thorough process documentation makes it easier to identify what is and isn’t working for your company.

Network Security Associates can help you develop or improve your company’s process documentation. Contact us today at 702-547-9800 to get started.