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Data loss prevention in healthcare

Data loss prevention in healthcare

Healthcare providers must prioritize data loss prevention (DLP) to safeguard sensitive information while providing quality care, especially with the increasing frequency of data loss incidents and the rise of remote work.


What is DLP?

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is detecting and preventing data breaches, exfiltration, or unwanted destruction of sensitive data. Organizations use DLP to protect and secure their data and comply with regulations.

It defends organizations against both data loss and data leakage prevention. Data loss refers to an event in which important data is lost to the enterprise, such as in a ransomware attack. Data loss prevention focuses on preventing the illicit transfer of data outside organizational boundaries.

Read more: What is ransomware and how to protect against it 


Strengthen DLP system visibility

Healthcare organizations must have a clear view of their data landscape to protect sensitive data. The more visibility DLP has in the organization's IT environment, the better it can identify and stop potential data leaks before they occur. Healthcare providers can proactively mitigate the risks associated with data breaches by implementing a DLP system.


Define permissions and set access controls

Healthcare organizations should ensure that individuals only have access to the patient records necessary for their job functions. Organizations can minimize the impact of potential breaches by limiting access and defining permissions based on specific roles. 

Read also: Access control systems in healthcare 


Deploy a cross-platform solution

Healthcare providers and administrators work from various locations, using different devices. Deploying a DLP solution that supports all company-owned and personal laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobile devices used for processing business data is important. By ensuring compatibility across platforms, healthcare organizations can effectively monitor and protect sensitive information, regardless of the device used.

Related: HIPAA requirements while working remotely


Enhance organization-wide user education

Healthcare organizations can leverage DLP to educate their staff on safe data practices. When an event triggers the DLP system, such as blocking an unencrypted email containing sensitive information, organizations can follow up with automated educational resources. 


Implement real-time monitoring and alerts

Organizations can promptly detect and respond to potential data leaks by monitoring data flows and network traffic. Implementing monitoring tools allows for the identification of abnormal activities and potential security threats. 

Additionally, healthcare organizations should establish automated alerts to notify IT teams of any suspicious or unauthorized data access attempts. Real-time monitoring coupled with proactive alerts ensures that potential security incidents are addressed promptly, reducing the risk of data loss.


Encrypt sensitive data

Encryption transforms data into an unreadable format, making it inaccessible to unauthorized individuals. Healthcare organizations should implement data storage, transmission, and rest encryption protocols. Encrypting sensitive data remains unintelligible and unusable even if it falls into the wrong hands. Encryption serves as an additional layer of protection, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of patient information.

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Regularly update and patch systems

Healthcare organizations should regularly update and patch their systems to address vulnerabilities and protect against potential exploits. Outdated software and systems are more susceptible to attacks, making them an easy target for hackers seeking unauthorized access to sensitive data. Healthcare organizations can minimize the risk of data breaches stemming from known vulnerabilities by implementing a patch management strategy.


Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Healthcare organizations should implement MFA protocols that require users to provide multiple forms of authentication, such as a password, a fingerprint, or a hardware key. By requiring multiple factors for authentication, healthcare organizations can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information. MFA serves as an effective deterrent against malicious actors attempting to compromise data security.

Read more: What is MFA? 


Foster a culture of data security

Creating a culture of data security ensures the success of DLP efforts in healthcare organizations. Establishing clear policies and procedures regarding data handling and security is necessary. Regular training sessions and awareness campaigns can help employees understand their role in protecting sensitive data. Healthcare organizations should encourage a proactive approach to data security, fostering a sense of responsibility among employees. 

See also: HIPAA Compliant Email: The Definitive Guide  

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