Under HIPAA regulations, health information or data that can be used to identify an individual patient is categorized as protected health information (PHI) and must undergo a wide range of practices explicitly designed to protect patient confidentiality. Covered entities must implement processes and controls to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of physical PHI and electronic PHI (ePHI). 

Cybersecurity alerts are increasingly issued to healthcare entities warning of the potential for targeted attacks on industry organizations. Threats to organizations’ networks, resources, and data come in many forms and create an ever-changing challenge for healthcare IT and Security teams to identify and protect against.

Ransomware, credential phishing, password spray attacks, and compromised credentials are some common methods for threat actors to achieve their goal of gaining access to sensitive and valuable information housed within the complex environment of a healthcare organization. 

Tips to safeguard ePHI and prevent a data breach

Are you concerned about ePHI getting outside of your healthcare organization? Understanding some effective ways to reinforce cybersecurity at your organization can help maintain HIPAA compliance and provide better protections to patients and data within your environment. A few tips for safeguarding ePHI include:

Conduct HIPAA Risk Assessment

One of the initial steps to strengthening a healthcare organization’s security program is to identify cybersecurity risks. A thorough HIPAA Security Risk Assessment evaluates the physical, administrative, and technical safeguards within a healthcare organization and assesses the likelihood of impacts should a successful attack occur. 

Proactively Mitigate Vulnerabilities

Upon identification of risks to the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of sensitive or protected information within the organization, actions must be taken to mitigate or lower the risks to an acceptable level. Described below are a few common risk mitigation processes and controls that should be present or implemented within your security program. 

There are many other security measures that should be implemented as part of a comprehensive program. Results of your specific HIPAA Security Risk Assessment will help identify potential gaps and risks that should be addressed in order to provide necessary protections around data and resources within your organization. 

For more insights on protecting your healthcare organization and ePHI, check out our webinar, The Regulatory Roadmap with HSCC.