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The role of employee education in email security for healthcare organizations

The role of employee education in email security for healthcare organizations

One necessary aspect of a comprehensive approach to email security is employee awareness training. Email security refers to a layered set of safety measures that keep email correspondence secure, from end-to-end, against unauthorized access.

Every aspect of email security, from utilizing a HIPAA compliant email platform to employee training, is vital to safeguarding protected health information (PHI).

Employees that lack training and awareness must be a top concern. So how do healthcare organizations create an environment in which their employees want to learn? What is HIPAA employee awareness training? And what best practices should healthcare organizations follow when it comes to email security training?


Healthcare and a culture of security


A strong culture of security is one in which all employees actively participate in cybersecurity. The idea is that if you feel included, you care more and work harder at blocking cyberattacks. Something crucial within vulnerable industries like healthcare.

Organizations with a solid security culture respond quickly and decisively to breaches while those unprepared may experience devastating results. For healthcare, that could mean downtime, stolen PHI, a ransom payment, and/or a costly HIPAA violation.

Employees who are trained properly can better understand what can cause a breach and prevent them from happening in the first place. This is especially important given the fact that employees are the weakest link and easiest to compromise in any organization.


What is HIPAA employee awareness training?


Under HIPAA, strong cybersecurity program must ensure that staff is aware and vigilant and that they understand how to prevent breaches and respond properly when an attack occurs. While HIPAA rules largely focus on physical and technical safeguards, there are also administrative safeguards employees need to be trained on as an essential part of HIPAA compliance.

According to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, healthcare organizations must provide employees with HIPAA compliance training on “privacy policies and procedures, as necessary and appropriate for them to carry out their functions.” Such training must include an explanation of what HIPAA is and why it is necessary to safeguard PHI.

The HIPAA Security Rule states that training is mandatory under its administrative safeguards. Moreover, a healthcare organization “must have and apply appropriate sanctions against workforce members who violate its policies and procedures.”

While the HIPAA rules are flexible on training specifics, they make it clear how valuable education is to HIPAA compliance. HIPAA cybersecurity training defines what is needed from employees to increase breach readiness.


HIPAA employee awareness training best practices


While not defined completely by HIPAA, a good cybersecurity training program means a covered entity follows certain best practices. This includes:

  • Identifying all requirements for training
  • Determining the best method for you and your employees
  • Setting expectations at the beginning and following through
  • Covering such topics as current threats and defensive procedures
  • Ensuring that your employees know who to contact if a breach occurs
  • Looking for feedback and reevaluating your program as needed
  • Repeating as necessary


High-quality cybersecurity training is repetitive, always up-to-date, and constantly tested. What is important is setting expectations upfront and ensuring employees follow them.

RELATEDHow to ensure your employees aren’t a threat to HIPAA compliance

With training, employees will learn how to recognize and block malicious cyberattacks. Moreover, they will learn what to do in case of a cyberattacker makes it through defenses.


Email security training


Considering the importance of securing email communication, training on proper email use is crucial to strengthening any security program. Such email training should focus on five main topics:

  1. Reinforcing the top risks and vulnerabilities of email
  2. Providing information on what makes a good password
  3. Training employees on how to recognize red flags in suspicious emails (e.g., anti-phishing training)
  4. Making cybersecurity email training positive and engaging
  5. Boosting protection with HIPAA compliant email

Such training and other facets of a layered email security program will keep any organization’s private information locked away. Especially HIPAA compliant email with strong inbound and outbound cybersecurity tools to protect all parts of employee’s emails.


Employee training goes hand in hand with HIPAA compliant email


Promoting smart cybersecurity training helps protect against malicious threats, but human error is still ultimately inevitable. With email a top threat vector, it’s key for healthcare providers to cover all bases with HIPAA compliant email.

Paubox Email Suite provides needed email protection and requires no change in email behavior. No extra logins, passwords, or portals. All emails are encrypted directly from existing email platforms (such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace) by default.

Our Plus and Premium solutions include robust inbound email security tools that block malicious emails from even reaching an inbox. In other words, Paubox works with employees to secure email rather than make communication harder.

Ultimately, the best approach to email security is layered and comprehensive. That means enabling security features while teaching employees how to protect themselves.

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