Health Care Data Breaches: 5 Tips for Protecting Sensitive Information

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Establish KPIs

Establish key performance indicators to continually ensure all parties are complying with those SLAs.

SLAs can help you keep tabs on third parties and eliminate any confusion about who's responsible for what, but it can be tricky to determine if all parties are actually complying with the responsibilities and policies outlined in the SLAs. Establishing mutually agreed upon KPIs with all participating parties can help you gauge their impact and improve communication. By objectively measuring items like service-delivery effectiveness, performance efficiency or agility (i.e., ability to respond to changes), you can begin to prioritize the KPIs that matter most to your organization. You can also better detect early warning signs of problems with SLAs, and use your KPIs as the basis for a discussion about improving or expanding your SLA with a third party.

After high-profile data breaches at Anthem and Premera and a continual string of breaches at several smaller health care organizations, cybersecurity experts around the globe are dubbing 2015 the year of the health care data breach.

Why are all of these breaches happening? Simply put, the sensitive nature of personal health information makes this data a goldmine for attackers. Not only is the data itself appealing to obtain, but because of health care's extensive partner network — made up of providers, administrators, insurance companies, billing partners and more — health care data is often vulnerable at many points throughout the business process. According to a report from the Shared Assessments Program and Protiviti, third-party risk programs in the health care industry lack maturity and put confidential patient data at risk.

Additionally, with more and more health care organizations taking advantage of the accessibility and scalability of the cloud, the lack of focus on third-party security only creates more risk. Case in point: In September 2015, insurance claim data and other highly sensitive patient information was inadvertently posted on Amazon Web Services after an error was made by claims administration software provider Systema Software. So, what steps can health care organizations take to ensure their partner networks are not putting them at risk? In this slideshow, Brian Ahern, CEO of Threat Stack, provides five tips health care organizations can use to improve their security posture and better protect sensitive patient information.


Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

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