Data encryption isn’t a requirement when dealing with healthcare data, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least consider its benefits.
Healthcare organizations are not bound by HIPAA to implement data encryption protocol, but this piece of the puzzle remains essential when considering the big picture of data security.
What Is Data Encryption Technology?
Data encryption technology is the process of turning regular data into coded text. The information is unreadable unless you have the key or code to unlock the encryption.
In healthcare, data encryption ensures that sensitive patient information isn’t accessed by unauthorized users – even if users hack into a database to steal the information.
There are two types of data in healthcare that can benefit from encryption technologies: active data and stored data.
Active data pertains to information that is being transferred from one user to another, such as an email or direct message. Stored data is any data that is not being actively used, such as a patient’s medical records.
In either case, data encryption’s goal is to ensure that only the intended, authorized user is able to view the information.
Why Isn’t Data Encryption Required?
Given the number of healthcare data breaches in recent years, it’s obvious that tighter security measures are essential in combating cyber crime. Data encryption seems to be a logical solution in rendering data unusable except for the intended parties. So why isn’t it required?
According to HIPAA safeguards, it’s almost impossible to determine a one-size-fits-all solution to data security.
HIPAA’s Security Rule doesn’t require specific solutions to be implemented. Rather, it suggests that each organization selects tools and products based on their unique organizational needs. Because access control can vary by organization, there is no easy way to mandate specific procedures regarding data access.
However, HIPAA does mandate that organizations enable data rights and privileges based on user role and job function. And, that organizations should follow a “minimum access necessary” approach when allowing access.
The Risks of Healthcare Data Encryption
The National Institutes for Standards and Technology mentions that organizations should rely on encryption features that work with existing systems, such as your current operating system.
When you deploy solutions that require a major change to your existing infrastructure, you could potentially increase your vulnerability to data protection issues.
In addition, it’s important to note that data encryption isn’t an infallible technology. Data encryption keys and codes may become inadvertently lost or deleted. In addition, encryption on removable media may prevent access unless the original keys are retained. Encryption practices require ongoing testing, analyzing, and validating to ensure encryption continues to function properly.
How Lifepoint Keeps Your Data Safe
Data encryption gives healthcare organizations a potential solution in enhancing their data security. In the event of a ransomware attack, encrypted data would be useless to the attacker. If a laptop containing sensitive information was stolen, the thief would also need an access key to view it.
Lifepoint solutions leverage advanced data encryption technology to give your data an extra layer of security. We integrate the approach to data protection in each of our products to take out the guesswork and potential vulnerabilities of encryption, so you can gain peace of mind that your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Contact us today for a demo or to learn more about Lifepoint can help you improve your healthcare IT security.