HIPAA Compliant File Sharing: 10 Tips to Keep Yourself Out of Trouble

Keep Yourself Out of Trouble

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HIPAA Compliant File Sharing

When it comes to document management and file sharing, the need for HIPAA Compliant File Sharing solutions becomes even more apparent. As healthcare providers know, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a set of compliance standards that helps healthcare providers protect patient privacy. Unfortunately, many businesses are not aware that file sharing applications can expose them to security risks from unsecured data storage and transmission methods — especially when dealing with sensitive information like health records. Major data breaches are in the news more and more—and they keep happening over and over again. In general, users tend to underestimate how seriously HIPAA takes personal information and breach notification requirements; as a result, the majority of people don’t even think about it until there’s already a problem. But if your company deals with PHI on a daily basis, you need to double down on your cyber security game ASAP. By adopting below mentioned tips, you can assure your data security.

1. Don’t Rely on Employees to Self-Report Breaches

Unfortunately, employees might not be as transparent about data breaches as you think. According to a 2017 survey, only 25% of respondents said they would notify their company if they suspected a breach. The survey also revealed that only 18% of respondents were confident they knew how to report a breach — and even fewer, 16%, could accurately identify what would constitute such a violation in the first place. In fact, the Health and Human Services department only advises individuals to report a breach if they are certain that the data has been removed from their control, the risk of unauthorized access has been eliminated, and the breach has been contained — not just if they think it has happened. Obviously, this is a very high standard If you have a HIPAA Compliance and breach notification policy in place, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by requiring compliance.

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2. Implement Strong Access Controls

The first line of defense when it comes to HIPAA compliance and file sharing is proper access controls. In other words, you need to control who has access to what data, when, and where. Ideally, your system should allow you to create user permissions based on job roles, including the right to add, edit, and remove other users. In the same way, it should allow you to create user roles based on the level of access they should have to the information — e.g., viewing, editing, deleting, printing, exporting, etc.

3. Be Careful with Cloud Storage and Collaboration Tools

While cloud storage platforms are convenient and reliable, they are also notoriously insecure. According to a 2018 study, cloud file sharing services were responsible for roughly 90% of data breaches in the previous year alone — and that number has been on the rise for the past decade. If you have no other choice but to use a cloud-based solution, make sure to select one that has been certified by either the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) or another certification organization. Additionally, make sure to select a solution that has a rigorous auditing and monitoring process to ensure that only authorized users have access to the data.

4. Install a File Storage-Sync Solution

There are numerous file-sharing solutions on the market that claim to be HIPAA compliant. However, not all of them are equally secure. If you’re looking to avoid the potential pitfalls of cloud storage, consider a file-storage-sync solution to keep your data in-house. This hybrid approach allows you to manage your data in one centralized location while still having the flexibility to work remotely on other devices. To ensure your data remains secure, make sure that your solution meets all of the following criteria: – 

  • It is fully encrypted in transit and at rest. 
  • It uses two-factor authentication.
  • It has a user management system that controls who can access what data.
  • It has an auditing system to track who accessed what data and when.
  • It has a log that shows when and where data was uploaded/downloaded
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5. Automated Protection Is Key

You also need to take regular backups to ensure you don’t lose data in the event of a breach. – Make sure your data platform allows you to back up your data preferably in real-time. You should also schedule regular backups as a failsafe measure against sudden data loss or a forgotten manual backup. – Consider adding extra protection against data corruption and malicious software by installing antivirus software, firewall, and anti-malware programs on your file server. – If you are using a file sharing solution, make sure it has active malware scanning and file integrity monitoring capabilities.

6. Ensure you’re using a secure platform

As mentioned above, you need to make sure your file sharing platform is HIPAA compliant. Hucu.ai is offering a fully HIPAA compliant platform that you can trust for file sharing. However, you should also make sure that your data has been encrypted before being uploaded to a third-party server. The same goes for your file transfer methods. For example, if you are sending documents via email, make sure that they are encrypted. In addition, if you are using a virtual private network (VPN) to send data, make sure that it is HIPAA compliant.

7. Be ultra-selective with whom you share info

One of the best ways to avoid sharing data with people who don’t need to see it is by creating data access rules. By doing so, you’ll ensure that only those who have a legitimate reason for accessing your data will be able to do so. – Ensure that your data access rules are based on user roles, not job titles. That way, you can easily adjust access to reflect any changes that may occur in the future — e.g., if someone leaves the company or changes positions.

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8. Stay On Top of Regular Software Updates

Unfortunately, many people wait until they are in a crisis situation before they think about updating their software. This can leave you at the mercy of malicious hackers who may have discovered a software vulnerability in your platform. – Do your best to keep up with the latest software updates by setting automated reminders for your team members. That way, they won’t forget to update their software during their busy work schedules.

9. Don’t share files in-place

While you don’t have to avoid sharing files altogether, you should avoid sharing documents in place. This means that, whenever possible, you should avoid sharing documents directly on a local file server. Instead, you should store these documents in a separate location, such as a secure cloud platform. This will help you avoid violating HIPAA’s rule against storing PHI in a reusable format.

10. Keep your data integrity in check

Last but not least, you need to keep your data integrity in check. This includes monitoring your log files to make sure that your data hasn’t been accessed or modified by unauthorized parties. If you take these simple steps, you’ll find that it’s easy to meet HIPAA compliance standards while also enjoying the benefits of file sharing.

Your HIPAA compliance efforts should be top of mind right now. In the midst of a high-stakes data breach landscape, healthcare organizations are under more pressure than ever to ensure patient privacy is protected at all times. If you’re working with vendors or suppliers that have access to sensitive patient data, you need to take extra precautions when deciding how and where to share those files. According to recent research, the risk of a data breach is even higher for vendors. To cope with the above mentioned problems you must need a secure platform like Hucu.ai. 

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