Over the course of 2021, over 40 million patient records were compromised by cybercriminals. This leaves patients susceptible to identity theft and financial issues. It also leaves healthcare facilities like yours susceptible to noncompliance-related legal issues and patient lawsuits.
Data encryption is one of the best ways that you can proactively battle common cyber threats. Here, we’re going to define data encryption and discuss why it’s essential in healthcare settings. Read on to learn how you can protect sensitive documents.
What Is Data Encryption?
Data encryption is a way that security teams encode data to prevent unauthorized users from accessing it. Data is secured using an encryption key, which is essentially a set of numeric data that the sender and recipient both have exclusive access to. These mathematical values must be available on both ends to decrypt the system and allow user access.
Basically, you can think of data encryption features like a secure door. The encryption key must perfectly match the keyhole on the door in order for the user to get ahold of the information behind it.
Many facilities also choose multi-factor encryption to secure their data, which means that multiple encryption keys will need to match the encryption wall. This is a great way to further protect the data against common cyber threats like hacking, malware, and phishing efforts.
The Importance of Encryption in Healthcare
Healthcare is one of the industries in which data encryption is the most important. This is largely because you will work with a plethora of sensitive patient information. Information may include (but is not limited to):
- Patient medical histories
- Patient’s family medical histories
- Psychiatric information
- Treatment plans
- Personally identifying information (birthdays, social security numbers, etc)
- Insurance information
- Employment data
Compromising this information leaves the patients that your facility is trying to assist vulnerable. It also leaves you open to medical malpractice lawsuits and legal disputes over identity theft. Data encryption is an easy and effective way to reduce the possibility of these issues.
Additionally, healthcare facilities have to take the duty of HIPAA compliance seriously. This means taking all reasonable action to secure and protect patient information and documentation.
If you fail to be HIPAA compliant, you may face fines of $50,000 or higher. In extreme cases, your facility may be forced to close its doors and stop accepting patients.
It’s best to take encryption action now and prevent these problems from costing you later.
How Does It Specifically Improve Security?
But why does data encryption in healthcare specifically protect your data? What makes it one of the essential ways to keep sensitive information safe?
For starters, data encryption is proactive. While disaster recovery plans are essential for knowing what to do after a breach, they should not be the first choice for a response. By the time your system has been breached enough to require disaster recovery, much sensitive information will likely have already been compromised.
Data encryption prevents breaches from happening in the first place. It secures data against common cyber threats and stops criminals from exploiting vulnerabilities in the first place. This means that no data will be lost and that you will remain consistently HIPAA compliant.
Additionally, encryption is by no means permanent if you don’t want it to be. It will last as long as you need it assuming that you perform frequent security software updates, but it does not prevent data destruction when hardware replacement is necessary.
You will still have the option to take down the encryption wall and shred data. This keeps you HIPAA compliant when destroying hard drives, switching software systems, and beyond.
The Basics of Protecting Business Data
Data encryption is beneficial because it’s easy to monitor and upgrade frequently. You can constantly test the system for vulnerabilities with ethical hacking and similar procedures. You can also set up more encryption layers so that more than one encryption key is required to enter a system.
Encryption also comes on multiple levels. You can give single-layer encryption to files that are less sensitive than others (or those that do not require high-level HIPAA compliance). This lets you focus on the files that require more care.
However, encryption is but one facet of a well-rounded security system.
Encryption and the Shred Cube
Additionally, data encryption goes hand in hand with other HIPAA-compliant data management strategies. Namely, it can help you to understand what data needs to be removed from your digital system. Certain types of digital files are more difficult to secure than others.
While any data can be encrypted, you may want to dispose of some more vulnerable file tips prior to setting up your encryption wall. The Shred Cube is a cutting-edge technology that permanently erases digital files from any system. It guarantees that data cannot be recovered, erases and organized files, and shreds digital documents that you want to put into a more difficult-to-compromise format.
The Shred Cube also lets you eradicate outdated and unnecessary healthcare documents. This will save you the need to encrypt items that you do not need so that you can focus on the sensitive files that you do. You can spend the time you would have wasted testing your encryption system for vulnerabilities and preventing their exploitation.
Get Your Shred Cube Today
Data encryption can be a challenge for healthcare facilities, but it’s necessary for patient protection and HIPAA compliance. Now that you know how you can start protecting business data from common cyber threats, it’s time to get started.
We’re committed to helping you shred sensitive healthcare information to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Contact Shred Cube today to learn more about our product and how it can help to protect your healthcare data from falling into the wrong hands.