Healthcare organizations store massive amounts of Protected Health Information (PHI) on their servers. It is crucial to store this data in a safe place. Data breaches have a 320% year over year increase in healthcare organizations. Thus, making them a severe threat to data security. In the event of a data breach, unauthorized personnel gain access to confidential patient information. They can then use this information to commit serious crimes.
In addition to cyberattacks, storing PHI on an un-secure server can result in hefty HIPAA non compliance fines. These legal ramifications can often put healthcare companies out of business. In fact, 60% of small healthcare organizations are successfully attacked by a hacker during any given year. Of that 60%, 90% will be put out of business as a result.
Cloud Storage Data Breaches
How can you, as a Covered Entity (CE), properly safeguard your patient’s valuable information? HIPAA compliant cloud storage services are the only viable way for healthcare organizations to safely store patient information.
What is HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage?
For the last decade, cloud storage has become an industry standard when storing confidential information securely. HIPAA compliant cloud storage saves data in an off-site location instead of on a hard drive or storage network. It can be accessed on demand by a user through a public internet or private network connection.
Cloud storage can easily be compared to clouds in the sky, hence the name. A regular cloud is a dense cluster of water molecules that appear to be a singular floating object.
In the same way, a computing cloud is a dense cluster of computers that appear to be a singular computer resource. Files and data that appear to be running on a mobile device or desktop are actually running over the internet. A multitude of computers work together to share resources with each other.
What are the Benefits Associated with HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage?
Cloud computing is a stronger, more cost effective method to secure data storage. HIPAA compliant cloud storage eliminates certain risks that are commonly associated with alternative methods of data storage.
Storing information on a flash drive, for example, was once highly regarded as a secure method of storing data. However, because a flash drive is a physical piece of hardware, it can be lost easily. If the flash drive is lost, so is all of the data that was stored on it. Additionally, it can easily fall into the wrong hands. Thus, the integrity of sensitive information becomes compromised.
Unlike its less effective counterparts, “the cloud” is not a physical device, but rather an electronic storage system. It can be accessed from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device at anytime. Data can be uploaded to the cloud and downloaded from it. The user just needs to have proper login credentials and a network connection.
How does the Cloud Work?
HIPAA compliant cloud storage is ultimately the most effective method of data hosting for healthcare entities. It is universally more accessible to its users, saves storage space, improves disaster recovery, and promotes collaboration.
HIPAA Compliance and Cloud-Based File Storage
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is a piece of legislation that was passed in 1996. It oversees and regulates how personal medical information is used and disclosed. As a CE, healthcare providers and Business Associates (BA’s) are required to follow the guidelines set by HIPAA. They are responsible for safeguarding the privacy and security of confidential medical information.
HIPAA compliance is a shared responsibility between the CE and the cloud storage service provider. A CE is responsible for securing the data they want to store in the cloud. The cloud storage service provider is responsible for securing the infrastructure on which that data is stored.
Maintaining HIPAA compliance is crucial for healthcare organizations. Penalties and fees for non-HIPAA compliance are often so detrimental, many organizations are not able to recover afterwards. Investing in data security not only combats these devastating financial impacts, but also establishes a strong reputation for your medical practice.
Under HIPAA rules, cloud storage needs to be properly safeguarded from unauthorized personnel. There are requirements covered entities and business associates must adhere to in order to keep their data protected.
What are the Requirements for HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage?
Under HIPAA regulations, a CE is required to implement and uphold technical, physical, and administrative safeguards. These safeguards are enforced to maintain the integrity of PHI. These safeguards were enacted specifically to protect the integrity of electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI).
- Secure data while it is in motion, or being transmitted
- Control who has access to PHI
- Maintain the integrity of the data security system
- Focus on controlling the hardware
- Implement practices to protect the device from unauthorized access
- Control the facility’s access to PHI
- Assess the integrity of the cloud-based storage system
- Regulate staff management and training standards
- Implement data access management tactics
- Predict crises and assess damages
Data Breaches in the Healthcare Industry
Why is it so important to follow HIPAA regulations and safeguard a patient’s medical information? The healthcare industry is the most heavily regulated industry in regards to data security, but this is for a good reason.
Data breaches are among the most common types of cyber attacks, affecting 94% of healthcare organizations. During a data breach, unauthorized personal gain access to a patient’s medical information that is meant to be kept private.
If a healthcare entity stores PHI on an un-secure server, they are at high risk of a data breach. Medical practices that fail to secure their data as regulated under HIPAA can face millions of dollars in penalty fees. In addition, patients are subject to identify theft, blackmail, and Medicare fraud.
Why are Data Breaches so Common in the Healthcare Industry?
Cyber crimes cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars every year, but healthcare is the most highly targeted industry.
Healthcare organizations typically fail to upgrade their security systems as quickly as other businesses. As a result, it is easy for a hacker to bypass their firewall. Additionally, PHI is particularly valuable for hackers to exploit.
In fact, credit card numbers are only sold for $1-2 on the Black Market. Health insurance credentials, on the other hand, go for as much as $20 a piece.
HIPAA covered entities and business associates need to maintain the integrity of PHI. Otherwise, sensitive information could fall victim to a cyber attack. A business associate and covered entity must sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) before handling PHI on a cloud service. This contract requires that both entities maintain HIPAA compliance.
HIPAA compliant Cloud Storage at Enterprise Guardian
At Enterprise Guardian, we are committed to providing our clients with the best security practices to safeguard their confidential information.
Our HIPAA compliant data storage system gives our clients secure, on demand access to their patient’s medical information. This gives you positive control over your data in a highly secured environment. That’s not where our services stop, either.
We have implemented the best data security practices and access controls for HIPAA secure cloud storage to protect your sensitive data. These include end-to-end data encryption, regular back ups, multi-factor authentication, and complimentary U.S. based support.
Are you looking for a user-friendly, HIPAA cloud storage and file sharing service to protect your confidential data? Don’t become another shocking data breach statistic. Contact our office today to learn more about how our HIPAA approved cloud storage system can benefit you!