The Importance of Data Encryption in Healthcare

Healthcare businesses and providers have a lot of sensitive data to secure. It’s important to encrypt data at rest (on servers, hard drives, and other devices) and in transit to prevent costly data breaches. However, many smaller healthcare organizations need help implementing encryption solutions. This is because they need more resources and expertise.

Data Loss Prevention

Healthcare facilities must have a layered solid security strategy, including encryption, to reduce the risk of losing patient data. In addition to violating HIPAA, unsecured ePHI puts patients at risk of identity theft and exposes healthcare businesses to litigation over privacy issues. Even if healthcare providers take all the suitable precautions, the risk of losing data remains high. Hospitals and clinics share information with doctors who aren’t employees, billing staff, insurance, payment processors, pharmacies, and labs, all of which can be a target for cyber-criminals. Remember that 88 percent of ransomware attacks target healthcare, and you can understand why cybersecurity in healthcare is essential for hospitals and other healthcare organizations. Hackers who breach a hospital’s system can quickly find valuable PHI to sell on the dark Web. They can also use compromised accounts to breach other systems, putting patients in jeopardy of identity theft, health insurance fraud, and more. Encryption prevents unauthorized access to files by masking them with layers of scrambled characters that can only be read with the proper key. DLP solutions work at the file level and continue to guarantee data protection even when working remotely on a company laptop.

Encryption Requirements

As the medical industry becomes more technologically advanced, you must ensure your systems are safe from threats like hacking and ransomware. It’s especially crucial in healthcare facilities to protect patient data and follow strict governmental regulations such as HIPAA. Implementing a solid encryption solution should be one of your top priorities. Encryption is one of the most effective ways to protect sensitive information. It masks files into an unusable string of characters that cannot be deciphered even by unauthorized individuals. This way, even if hackers access your work devices, they won’t be able to read any information or use it against you or your patients. Healthcare entities should also consider implementing a robust security system to detect and halt anomalous activity. This can include preventing web uploads, unauthorized email sends, copying to external drives, etc. These capabilities are critical in the healthcare sector, where many employees have access to sensitive information, and a single breach could cost your organization millions. Fortunately, many solutions on the market are designed to be secure and easy to use.

HIPAA Compliance

Protecting patient data and documentation is up to you whether you work in a doctor’s office or hospital. Not only does compromising this data leave patients vulnerable to identity theft and financial issues, but it also leaves you open to noncompliance-related lawsuits and medical malpractice claims. Data encryption is the best way to combat common cyber threats and remain compliant with HIPAA. Encryption scrambles sensitive data into only decipherable characters with a unique code. Encrypting data at rest will prevent hackers from accessing and reading personal or financial details, even if your device is stolen or lost. The U.S. Government increased enforcement due to the growing threat of cyber criminals and hackers targeting healthcare. This is why the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) imposes higher penalties for healthcare organizations that violate HIPAA rules. To maintain the integrity and confidentiality of ePHI, all covered entities must use and maintain the appropriate security measures as part of the HITECH Act. Your facility may be subject to heavy fines and civil lawsuits without proper security measures. Your healthcare organization must adopt a comprehensive security strategy, including data encryption because HIPAA violations are expensive.

Data Privacy

Healthcare practices transmit data using various technologies, such as electronic health records (EHRs), mobile devices, and other types of technology. Data encryption transforms the information into a form only accessible with a code or key. This additional layer of protection helps protect PHI from online threats that can lead to costly data breaches. Cybercriminals may use the stolen data in several ways. They may, for example, sell the data on the dark Web or use it in healthcare fraud. These details could be used to hack digital systems in medical facilities and cause more damage. Encrypting data is a vital part of protecting healthcare information. To reduce the risk of data breaches, encryption must be used with monitoring and access control. These tools ensure that any risky activity can be flagged in real-time and blocked. These tools can help healthcare organizations to prevent malware, ransomware, and other common attacks. A compromised network can force a healthcare organization to stop operations or even shut down. It is particularly true in hospitals that have patients with critical illnesses. It can be life-threatening for those who require care and treatment. Healthcare organizations must take security very seriously. Data encryption can be used to protect patients and comply with HIPAA regulations.