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What is the HIPAA Security Rule?

In the 1990s, before HIPAA was signed into law, there were no specific security standards for protecting health information across the healthcare industry. As many processes became digital, so did the need to protect health care information and technology.

In 1996, the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was put into effect and stands today as one of the most influential pieces of legislation within the healthcare industry. It serves to protect against unauthorized access and ensure the security of sensitive information and health information technology. Just two years later, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed the HIPAA Security Rule and put it into effect five years later. The HIPAA security rule requires organizations to secure Protected Health Information (PHI) shared among healthcare practitioners, providers, health plans, and other organizations and comprises the privacy and security rule.

The HIPAA Privacy rule outlines and defines PHI requirements, and the Security Rule outlines requirements to protect Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI). Furthermore, the HIPAA security requirements mandated security standards to protect and access EPHI that is created, received, maintained, and transmitted. Focused on cybersecurity, the Security Rule utilizes a risk management focus and requires an organization to evaluate the likelihood and impact of potential security risks to electronic information systems and implement security measures to protect them. Additionally, the security rule is an administrative safeguard that is scalable to any organization’s size in the healthcare industry and can be explicitly scoped to an organization’s needs and function.

Maintaining good cyber posture is a constant and continuous practice, as regulation is continually changing and threats that could have detrimental impacts on an organization. Ensuring the protection of PHI and EPHI is as important as the protection of administrative, physical, and technical functions. Using integrated risk management with a solution like CyberStrong can streamline these processes, saving your cybersecurity team, time, effort, and resources to become and maintain HIPAA compliance. Being rooted in risk management, you will need to do more than just measure potential risks and vulnerabilities using risk analysis. You must also prove so by logging and auditing your compliance progress, performing continuous risk assessments, and using benchmarks to create a standard to measure from and create security incident logs and remediation plans in case of an event.

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