Healthcare Data Security Breaches: Ways to Protect Private Health Information

Despite implementing all the security measures, protected logins – Healthcare has increasingly fallen prey to data security breaches. In most cases, it happens due to internal negligence but sometimes providers become vulnerable to data hacks due to low security. Various health data security breaches have caused serious damages to healthcare organizations when they compromised the protected health information of millions of patients. Here are a few examples of the most common types of healthcare data security breaches.

Hacking network server password: In a data breach incident, a hacker broke into the service’s server and hacked personal data (SSN, contact information, PHI) belonging to thousands of patients stored on the server. The hacker was successful in breaching the security of the server by intercepting a weak password.

Health data security threats and technical safety measures: Clinical records of 2,850 individuals were compromised when a third party found documents containing the information in a recycling container (instead of paper shredders) behind the building of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. In a similar incident, a provider disposed of patients’ Protected Health Information in a dumpster outside of a doctor’s office.

Lost portable devices and backup drives: While in transit on public transportation, a laptop was lost by an employee that contained PHI of 3,800 individuals. In another reported breach, a provider lost a server backup tape containing roughly 375,000 individuals as it was being sent via courier. Another provider lost two USB storage devices containing ePHI of 1,474 individuals.

Theft: A desktop and four laptop computers were stolen from a locked facility. Following the breach, the covered entity installed new office door locks with assigned keys, installed security cameras with alarms, and physically secured computers to desks. Moreover, several incidents of laptop theft and external hard drives stolen from cars have been reported.

Unauthorized access or disclosure: According to a breach report, former employees took protected health information (PHI) pertaining to 13,000 patients and disclosed it to a competing medical practice. Moreover, there are incidents of passing on PHI through Email to third parties and other misuses.

Sybrid MD can help you maintain the security of health information by strictly maintaining HIPAA’s security and data encryption standards. A review of security procedures at every level including management, clinicians and IT staff, the technical team can help you with:

  • Risk management procedures and review of external accesses to your network.

  • Analyze threats to confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected information.

  • Establish measures to identify future security risks.

  • A process for integrating continuing security updates.

Technical Safety Measures

It is promising to see the benefits of encryption and the use of blockchain technologies in healthcare. Health managers are convinced that patients should have greater access to their health information. Providers are required to exchange health information electronically with patients, laboratories, and pharmacies. Consequently, health information data is floating on different networks and its confidentiality gets vulnerable.

A data breach is the major concern of the government and all the stakeholders benefitting from the interoperability of electronic health information. Let us sum up a few technical safety measures through which providers can ensure the protection and integrity of private health information.

Encrypt the information before sharing it on other networks. Encrypted data means that only that person can decrypt it that has the key or code to the information.

Malware and suspicious software on your network help hackers getting access to your protected data and network. Moreover, do not suppose that your network is secure. Avoid using cost-free applications because there is nothing free in the cyber world.

Allow limited access to users by providing unique logins and strong passwords. It would ensure role-based access control, which means nursing staff, billing department, and physicians, all have their own domains to move in.

Unauthorized network access and E-mail hacking are among the major types of cyber-attacks. Make sure that guest devices are not allowed to access network and the computer containing record have no peer-to-peer connection.

Secure laptops and handheld mobile devices because they are easier to poke. These devices exchange data through Wi-Fi and wireless signals and can transmit health information on public networks.

Synchronize and backup data in routine but avoid making multiple copies. In case of emergency or damage to the data, restore it from the backup server. The integrity of the data requires that it remains unaltered.

On software updates and maintenance, ask the vendor and IT staff not to enable remote file sharing and remote desktop connections over a long period of time.

HIPAA security rules require confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patients’ health information. Conduct an accurate ‘risk analysis’, as well as, determine if 500 or more patients are affected because of a data breach, inform them by issuing notifications.

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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