The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a set of standards for protecting the privacy of patients and the security of their personal health information. HIPAA-compliant cloud services are essential for healthcare organizations that need to securely share patient EMR records among different providers and departments. A cloud computing service may not be HIPAA compliant if it doesn’t offer the right security settings and access controls, or if it doesn’t meet other requirements of the law. As more businesses store data in remote storage systems, cyber threats have increased. The main problem with moving data into the cloud is that it can actually make it less secure. This article explains 5 ways you can optimize your data security by using cloud technologies that are also HIPAA compliant.
Use the right cloud service provider
One of the first steps in optimizing your data security is to choose the right cloud service provider. While many providers offer HIPAA-compliant cloud storages, not all of them offer the same level of security. For example, some providers offer only encryption on the storage level, while others encrypt data at the network level as well. Some providers offer a higher level of security because they specialize in storing healthcare data. When choosing a provider, look at the security they offer and how they meet the requirements of HIPAA. You can also get a list of references from other healthcare organizations that use the same provider. If possible, work with a provider that has a certification in information security.
Implement an effective data governance and management strategy
An effective data governance and management strategy is critical for protecting data in the cloud. First, an organization needs to define who is responsible for protecting the data. It also needs to decide who can access the data and under what circumstances. Next, the organization needs to create a data inventory, making sure to include all data, both on-premises and in the cloud. Then it should establish data retention and disposal policies, controlling how long data is kept and when it is deleted. If an organization has a virtual data environment, it should create a data governance plan for this as well, ensuring that the environment is properly managed. For example, you can use an identity and access management tool to control who can access the data. You can also use a data classification tool to label data, as well as a data discovery tool to find all the data that exists in the organization. A data discovery tool can also help you create a data inventory.
Use the right encryption techniques
Encryption is the most important way to protect data in the cloud, and it is also one of the requirements of HIPAA. There are several ways to encrypt data when using a cloud service, including encryption at rest, encryption in transit, and hybrid encryption. For encryption at rest, you store the data in an encrypted format, meaning it cannot be decrypted unless it is first moved to a decryption device. For encryption in transit, data is encrypted as it moves between devices, such as when it is sent over the Internet. Hybrid encryption uses both methods. For hybrid encryption, you can use end-to-end encryption for sensitive data, such as EMR data, while storing other data in an encrypted format. You can also use server-side encryption, where the cloud service provider encrypts the data before sending it to you. Another option is client-side encryption, where you encrypt the data before storing it in the cloud.
Establish a proper incident response plan
Another important step to optimizing your data security is to establish a proper incident response plan. This helps you respond quickly to any cyber threat, including ransomware and other malicious attacks. Your incident response plan should include details on how to respond to specific threats, such as which law enforcement agency to contact if data is stolen, and who should be contacted if the server needs to be shut down. During an incident, you need to collect information about the incident, such as what data was affected, what caused it, and who was involved. You also need to determine what to do next, such as whether to notify the authorities and whether to restore the data from a backup.
HIPAA compliance and cloud technologies go hand in hand and have become increasingly important as cybersecurity threats have grown. There are 5 ways you can optimize your data security by using cloud technologies that are also HIPAA compliant. When choosing a provider, look at the security they offer and how they meet the requirements of HIPAA. You can also establish a proper incident response plan to respond quickly to any cyber threat.