The number of HIPAA violations have been rising over the last decade, and the penalties have been rising. In 2018, there were 11 violations and almost $30 million in penalties.
Your organization can’t afford to be one of these statistics. Not only will it reflect poorly on you, but it’ll also take a huge financial toll. Here are 7 ways to improve your infrastructure security to prevent data leaks and HIPAA violations.
1. Give Your Employees Regular Training
Your staff is the first line of defense when it comes to cyber attacks. Social engineering is on the rise. If your employees can’t recognize signs of an attempt, they can inadvertently give away key information.
This means having a digital security officer on staff is a must. They can train your workers to identify anything that’s awry with communications. They can also be the point of contact should anything suspicious arise.
In addition, digital security officers can periodically administer phishing tests. The results can tell them how well your employees understand cyber attacks. Not only that but how well they respond to a threat.
2. Practice Good Digital Hygiene
Having good practices in place is vital to your infrastructure security. Make sure your employees understand how to have good digital hygiene. Examples include using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and keeping personal information out of public reaches, such as on social media.
The main reason why social engineering is so successful is that data is readily available on the internet. If you and your staff take the proper precautionary steps to restrict personal information found online, it’ll be harder for cybercriminals to construct convincing scams.
3. Keep Your Software Up-To-Date
Nowadays, it’s common sense to install basic antivirus software to protect against digital attacks. While the majority of devices have antivirus programs on them, they’re not necessarily running at their full potential.
How many times have you been working diligently on your computer, or giving a presentation, only to have an annoying popup telling you that an update for your antivirus is available? You dismiss that pop up and then forget about it as you go about your busy day.
When you don’t update all of your software, this leaves you open to attacks from cybercriminals. They’re constantly trying to find vulnerabilities in your network, and these updates plug those vulnerabilities up.
Every moment that passes by without updating your software, this is another opportunity for scammers to seize. Don’t give them that chance and always install updates when you’re prompted.
4. Limit User Access Privileges
It may be simpler to give every employee access to every room and every file, but that increases the chances of your data being compromised. By having fewer people who have access to important documents, you’ll lower your risk dramatically.
Have your IT department implement something called “policy of least privilege” (POLP). With this policy, when employees log onto your network, they’re restricted to the least amount of information they need to access. For instance, an orderly won’t have the same access to files an attending would have.
5. Use Encryption
Encryption is the process of transforming any messages or transfer of information into a secret code. This won’t prevent cybercriminals from potentially intercepting your messages. But it adds an extra layer of security by ensuring they can’t read anything they’ve hijacked.
With encryption, only those with the “key” can decode the contents of those messages. Encryption is easy to implement in your communications systems. So if you haven’t already, have your IT department enable encryption for things such as your email accounts.
6. Think About Physical Security
Much of infrastructure security emphasizes digital security, but you have to think about the physical side of things as well. As a medical practice, you get lots of foot traffic in and out of your location. While the majority are employees and patients, a few can potentially be scammers trying to gain access to your valuable data.
Implement physical ways to keep cybercriminals out of your network. This can include locking rooms, giving keycard access to only those who require it (instead of every employee) and locking physical files in cabinets with the keys allocated to the appropriate personnel.
Also, you should carefully logging every visitor and have an employee escort every person, regardless of whether or not they’re a patient. Anyone on your premises who are left unsupervised has the potential to wander into rooms with sensitive data, especially if locks aren’t used.
7. Disable Unsecured Wi-Fi
On unsecured wi-fi, any information transferred on it can be intercepted. For example, all a scammer needs to do is be near your premises and plug in an antenna to grab that data.
Not only should you disable unsecured wi-fi networks, but if possible, you should create two separate networks. One network should be for your employees and one for guests and patients. That way, if anything malicious infects the guests and patients network, it won’t compromise any vital data you have on your employees’ network.
Infrastructure Security Is a Necessity
As technology advances, it’s inevitable that things become more and more interconnected. This is the future; while interconnectivity introduces vulnerabilities, there are ways to address them so growth isn’t hindered.
With proper infrastructure security, you can protect your medical practice or hospital from cyber attacks and prevent HIPAA violations from occurring. By investing in preventative rather than reactive measures, you can save yourself both time and money in the long run.
To ensure your medical practice or hospital is HIPAA compliant, please get in touch with us today.