Companies handling health information that is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must find a way to avoid any security breaches that could affect their compliance with the law. Although cloud computing is often viewed as a less secure kind of technology, it actually works to reduce the risk of HIPAA breaches and improves the ability to remain compliant.
By using cloud computing, organizations concerned about unauthorized access to patient data can lessen the burden of having protected health information. Preventing security breaches also helps to avoid the liability and reputation damage that can result from noncompliance with HIPAA.
Data Protected Under HIPAA
Organizations handling the kind of data protected under the HIPAA are compelled to implement systems that will prevent breaches as much as possible. They do not want to suffer the repercussions of having to report these breaches that have compromised private health data. One of the reasons that cloud computing actually works as a system preventing these kinds of breaches is because of the methods of unauthorized access to data that typically occur.
Most large security breaches have been a result of lost or stolen equipment and storage media. In many of the bigger cases, nearly 66% of HIPAA breaches have been linked to a lost or stolen laptop or flash drive containing protected health information. Breaches associated with hacking on the other hand only account for about 8% of the incidents.
Physical Equipment Loss
Because so many of the security breaches affecting compliance with the HIPAA have been linked to physical equipment loss, cloud computing offers a solution that could prevent these types of incidents. Through cloud computing, the majority of the private information would only be available in the cloud. Data would remain on secure servers with access available to users only through a web browser.
This reduces the risk of the data being lost because it is stored on a laptop or flash drive that can easily be stolen. Cloud users can also enforce encryption requirements much easier than they would with an onsite data center. This makes it more difficult to hack into information without the encryption key.
Reduced Costs Of A Security Audit
Using cloud computing can make it easier to cover the costs of security audits, certifications, and assessments to demonstrate an organizations efforts to comply with HIPAA requirements. This kind of certification can be valuable in case of any liability issues associated with an unavoidable security breach.
The physical security measures implemented by cloud services can also be a benefit to complying with security requirements. Physical and technical safeguards are implemented automatically for data confidentiality.
In spite of many companies’ concerns about the security level of cloud computing, it actually proves to be a superior way to maintain the integrity of protected health information.
Private data in the cloud is better protected because it is not in a physical form that can easily be lost or stolen. Security measures are easier to implement using the cloud and the possibility of instances with HIPAA breaches will be reduced significantly.
- License: Image author owned
Leo Hart is an expert at cloud computing from his years of experience helping companies through customized dedicated virtual servers http://www.customcloudhost.com/solutions/virtual-dedicated/.