A watertight data backup recovery process is essential for HIPAA-compliant healthcare businesses in the current environment.
The number of patient records breached in 2019 nearly tripled from figures the previous year, according to research by Protenus and DataBreaches.net.
Whilst human error (or malicious action) remain significant drivers of patient data breaches, 58% of data breaches were attributed to external hacking activity – especially ransomware attacks.
In a landscape of constantly evolving online threats, how can you tell whether your data backup and recovery plan is sufficient to protect your patients and your business?
Here’s what you need to consider to ensure your data backup recovery processes are up to scratch.
Do You Have A HIPAA Compliant Backup and Recovery Plan?
HIPAA compliant disaster recovery and data storage should be first on your list of priorities for your organization’s data backup recovery plan.
Robust data backup and security practices are essential for compliance with HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules, which were introduced in 2003 to regulate the storage and processing of protected health information (PHI) and electronic protected health information (ePHI).
For healthcare businesses, HIPAA compliance is everything.
A data backup and recovery solution can neither be considered trustworthy nor HIPAA compliant unless it provides adequate ePHI protection. This should be via administrative safeguards, physical safeguards and technical safeguards to preserve the confidentiality, integrity and availability of ePHI data.
Administrative safeguards concern the policies and procedures your organization has in place to ensure the adequate management and maintenance of ePHI protection.
Physical safeguards refer to physical security systems that restrict access to any servers or computer equipment where ePHI is stored.
Finally, technical safeguards protect ePHI via digital means, such as access controls, user authentication and data encryption.
External Data Storage Providers and the HIPAA Security Rule
Increasingly, healthcare organizations are using third-party cloud storage providers to back up their data.
Since these providers handle and have access to the ePHI healthcare organizations entrust them with, under HIPAA, they are classed as HIPAA business associates (BAs).
This means that they too must comply with the exact same data storage regulations as you do.
In particular, they must sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which “contractually requires the business associate to appropriately safeguard the ePHI, including implementing the requirements of the Security Rule.”
Many data storage providers will sign a BAA, but if you want your data backup and recovery processes to be as reliable as possible, it’s worth looking for specialist HIPAA compliant cloud backup solutions.
Specialist HIPAA compliant data storage providers have the in-depth understanding of regulatory requirements – and the experience working in a healthcare-specific setting – required to make your data backup plan as watertight as possible.
How Often Do You Update Your Data Backup Recovery Plan?
One of the main questions you should ask yourself when assessing your data backup recovery procedures is “When did we last update it?”
Creating a recovery plan isn’t a one-off exercise.
The types of threats faced by healthcare companies are evolving constantly, so it’s essential to review your security processes and data storage solutions at regular intervals.
You should also make a note to review your backup processes every time your business changes significantly.
If your practice adds a new function or department, for example, it’s important to assess whether you’ll need to collect any new data and, if so, how you can store this safely and in compliance with HIPAA regulations
The Importance of Staff Training
Ultimately, the first step in any data security plan should be preventative – and regular staff training is central to this.
Whilst staff training won’t eliminate all threats, it will help avoid accidental breaches and reduce potential weak spots for hackers to exploit.
As part of your data backup recovery practices, make sure your staff are fully trained on:
- Good security practices (including strong password management, email threat scanning, encrypted file sharing and locking computers when absent from desks)
- How to report a data breach
- Major disaster recovery plan steps – i.e. what their responsibilities are in the event of a breach and what steps they will be expected to carry out.
What Is Data Storage in the Cloud and How Is It Beneficial?
Cloud data storage means storing your organization’s data off-premises in third-party managed data centers rather than on servers located at your office which are managed by an internal security team.
Utilizing cloud backup and recovery solutions offers three main advantages over on-premise strategies:
- Technical expertise and cutting-edge technology. Unless you have a huge budget to employ a team of security specialists in-house – and the most up-to-date hardware to go with them – cloud storage providers make the most business sense in terms of both costs and security.
Unlike legacy on-premise solutions which are weakened by outdated hardware and inherently vulnerable to attacks, specialist cloud data storage providers utilize the most up-to-date technology, have unmatchable security expertise and through economies of scale can provide their round-the-clock services cost effectively.
- Security practices: Third-party data storage providers undergo rigorous audits regularly, employ white-hat hackers to anticipate threats, protect their premises with security cameras, wire fences and teams of security guards and employ top-notch encryption and cybersecurity technology to ensure your data is always protected from digital threats in all their guises.
- Physical separation: Storing backups of your data offsite makes you less vulnerable to internal threats, physical attacks and cybersecurity breaches.
If your on-premise data is compromised, you can quickly recover it from your off-premise storage to ensure business continuity (and avoid paying ransoms).
In addition, having your data backed up externally also makes your business more resilient to unexpected events like natural disasters– again, because any on-premise data lost as a result is easily recovered from the off-premise data center.
Central Data Storage – HIPAA Compliant Data Backup & Recovery for Your Business
Central Data Storage offers HIPAA compliant cloud backup, disaster recovery, encrypted file sharing and data storage solutions for business. We also offer data storage support for all our HIPAA cloud storage solutions.
With Central Data Storage, all your backups are performed automatically and our 448-bit end-to-end encryption exceeds military-grade standards to ensure your ePHI is continuously protected from all threats, both en route and at rest in our secure private cloud.
With data backup and recovery, archiving and data-sharing functionality, our solutions are specially designed to help healthcare businesses meet their data storage needs whilst maintaining HIPAA compliance.
See how we could improve your data backup recovery plan with a free expert-led data assessment. Call 1-888-907-1227 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.