As a healthcare provider, it’s essential that your information security is top notch. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all organizations in the healthcare industry to take steps to keep their patient data safe. Are you doing enough to prevent a breach?
If you have any doubts about the security of your IT systems or if risk is mitigated appropriately, it’s time to perform an IT audit. An audit can identify gaps and expose issues with the controls in your current security systems, allowing you to address them before a cybercriminal takes advantage of the weaknesses in your systems. Because of this, IT audits can help reduce risk by helping keep sensitive data safe in your healthcare environment.
Let’s take a look at what is involved in an IT audit and why it’s so important for healthcare organizations to carry out this process regularly.
Benefits of an IT Audit for Healthcare Organizations
All healthcare organizations are required to handle data in a way that is compliant with HIPAA. In summary, that means specific data must be kept private. Organizations need to identify that data and use technologies such as encryption, firewalls and other security measures to prevent unauthorized parties from accessing any data that should be confidential – regardless if it is medical or not.
Unfortunately, many healthcare organizations have unknown and known holes in their security systems that leave their data vulnerable to access or theft. Cybercriminals look for these weaknesses and exploit them to steal sensitive client information, which they can often sell at a premium in illicit marketplaces.
If you don’t take action to ensure your IT systems are secure, it is only a matter of time before your healthcare organization becomes the victim of a cyber-attack. This could have devastating consequences for your practice or company, including financial costs in proving no breach occurred or in recovering the data, large financial penalties for not complying with HIPAA regulations, and a serious loss of trust among your clients.
An IT audit can help to avoid these negative consequences of a data breach. By exposing potential security risks, an IT audit allows you to take action to plug the holes in your security systems, making your client information much more difficult to steal. Although a truly determined attacker may be able to breach even the most advanced cybersecurity defenses of an organization, an IT audit ensures that your business won’t be seen as a soft target by criminals.
IT Audit for Healthcare Providers
In general, healthcare providers specialize in offering top-class care to their clients, but they often lack the IT skills necessary to perform a comprehensive IT audit of their own systems. Even if you do have IT professionals working in house, it’s a good idea to reach out to a third party for help with conducting your IT audit as it aligns with the common best practice of separation of roles or duties. An outside consulting service can take an objective look at your security systems and let you know about any aspects of security that your own IT staff may have overlooked.
During an IT audit, expert auditors evaluate your internal and external network to find out where attackers could gain access. When auditing the IT systems of a healthcare organization, auditors will also ensure that all data is being stored and internal governance follows compliance needs associated with HIPAA, as well as any other standards that are applicable in your situation. The auditors will also evaluate your organization’s servers and capabilities, and finally take a look at your data recovery plans to ensure that you could quickly restore all vital information to keep your business running in the case of a major data loss. Auditors work with you to make sure this process proceeds as quickly and smoothly as possible, with minimal disruption to your normal business operations.
Once you have the results of your IT audit, you can work with a cybersecurity consulting service to address any issues that were flagged up during the audit. For example, you may need to update your data recovery plans to reflect recent changes in the way your business generates, stores and uses data. Crucially, your security consultant will also help you improve your defenses against cyber-attacks, which can help to keep hackers out of your system.
Cybersecurity threats and best practices are evolving all the time. Hackers keep coming up with ingenious ways of breaching systems that were once thought secure. Therefore, it is important to carry out regular IT audits to ensure your systems are still as safe as you assume they are. This is particularly true if you add new technologies to your existing system, as these could open up new vulnerabilities to attack.
As a healthcare provider, your business relies on establishing and maintaining trusting relationships with your clients. By carrying out an IT audit, you can confidently reassure your clients that you are doing everything you can to keep their data safe.
To find out more about the IT audit process for healthcare organizations, contact Garland Heart today. Our experienced cybersecurity consultants have the industry expertise they need to ensure your current practices are HIPAA compliant. They can undertake a thorough audit of your entire IT system, letting you know about any issues you need to address. Don’t wait to become the next victim of healthcare-related cybercrime. Let us perform an IT audit to keep your organization safe and secure.