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HIPAA compliant file sharing

HIPAA compliant file sharing

HIPAA compliant file-sharing methods are more secure than standard practices, as they prioritize data security and ensure that sensitive health information is accessible only to authorized users. This form of file sharing safeguards protected health information (PHI), which includes any data that can identify an individual and relate to their health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care. 


Real-life example: Imagine360 reports large data breach

Imagine360, a provider of self-funded health plans in Pennsylvania, recently experienced two cyberattacks on its file-sharing platforms in January. The first attack targeted Citrix, affecting a vast user base. At the same time, the second happened on Fortra's GoAnywhere Transfer solution, which was previously reported to have compromised up to 1 million patients' data due to a zero-day vulnerability. The ransomware group Cl0p claimed responsibility for the Fortra attack.


Why Is HIPAA Compliance necessary in File Sharing?

HIPAA compliance in file sharing applies to covered entities and their corresponding business associates. When these healthcare providers and associated businesses share medical records and other patient data, HIPAA compliance requires this information be protected from unauthorized access and breaches. This compliance safeguards patients' privacy and personal health information, maintaining their trust in the healthcare system. It also prevents potentially devastating consequences, such as identity theft, fraud, and misuse of health data. 


How to ensure HIPAA compliant email file sharing

Organizations can create a secure environment for easy file sharing by methodically implementing specific steps:  

  1. Use secure file-sharing platforms: Employ file-sharing platforms or securely email attachments with Paubox specifically designed to be HIPAA compliant. 
  2. Sign business associate agreements (BAAs): If you're using third-party services for purposes such as HIPAA compliant email or file-sharing software, ensure you have a BAA with each service provider. This agreement ensures that the third party also complies with HIPAA regulations and is liable for maintaining the confidentiality and security of PHI.
  3. Implement access controls: Limit PHI access to authorized employees only via strong authentication and access controls.
  4. Regularly update security measures: Keep security measures updated with evolving technology and threats. Update software, patch vulnerabilities, and stay informed about new threats.
  5. Monitor and audit file-sharing activities: Regularly monitor and audit file-sharing activities to ensure policy compliance. Look for any unauthorized access or sharing of PHI and take corrective actions if necessary.
  6. Respond to incidents promptly: Establish a response plan for potential data breaches or non-compliance incidents. This plan should include containment, investigation, notification, and remediation steps.
  7. Document everything: Keep detailed records of all the steps to ensure HIPAA compliance, including risk assessments, policies, training programs, and incident response plans. This documentation can be vital in the event of an audit or investigation.

See also: HIPAA compliant file storage

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