How To Send HIPAA Compliant Email

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How To Send HIPAA Compliant Email

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) set the standard for healthcare providers in protecting sensitive patient data. Any organization that handles protected health information (PHI) must adhere to all applicable physical, network, and process security measures. HIPAA-compliant email solutions and all aspects of email security fall under this category. But HIPAA compliance for email communications (email accounts and email services) is often viewed as a baffling subject matter.

Organizations subject to HIPAA include covered entities (any company that provides treatment, medical practices, payment, or healthcare operations) and business associates (any company with access to PHI that provides support for covered entities). Even subcontractors (i.e. business associates of business associates) must comply with HIPAA secure communications rule. These organizations and entities have to overcome all compliance challenges that may come their way, in order not to breach HIPAA rules.

What is HIPAA compliant email?

In 2000 the HIPAA Privacy Rule created for the first time a set of national standards for safeguarding certain health information. It allows covered entities to disclose PHI to a business associate if it receives assurances that the business associate will use the information only within the scope in which it was engaged by the covered entity.

The HIPAA Security Rule was added in 2003 to set out what safeguards must be in place to protect electronic PHI (ePHI), which is health information that is held or transferred in electronic form.

In regards to email, covered entities are required to take reasonable steps to protect ePHI as it’s transmitted electronically to the recipient’s inbox.

Once the email reaches the recipient, the obligation of the sender ends, and it becomes the recipient’s job to secure any PHI they have in their inbox.

If you are using a third party to transmit or host ePHI, the company is required by law to sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with you. A BAA establishes that certain administrative, physical, and technical safeguards are in place to protect patient data.

While no certification makes an email provider HIPAA compliant, meeting the requirements set by the HIPAA Privacy & Security Rules is the best place to start, along with ensuring strong technical security measures to make sure ePHI is protected inbox to inbox.

 Does HIPAA require email encryption?

The terms “required” and “addressable” are used to describe HIPAA encryption requirements. Encryption protocols labeled as mandatory must be implemented if you want to remain in compliance with HIPAA. If a risk assessment determines that encryption is necessary to protect ePHI, addressable encryption protocols must be implemented.

This decision should be documented and an equivalent solution implemented to protect ePHI if your organization decides encryption is not necessary. Because there is no suitable alternative to encryption for protecting ePHI in an email, it is effectively necessary. Your patients’ information and your organization could be at risk if you don’t encrypt your emails.

 

There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your email is HIPAA-compliant:

Ensure you have email encryption (end-to-end encryption) for email

Email is a quick and easy way to communicate electronically for healthcare organizations, but it does not necessarily ensure security nor usually have extra security and compliant technology solutions. Even services that encrypt messages in transit may not have the required level of security to make them HIPAA compliant. To make your email is HIPAA compliant and ensure cloud-based email security, you should ensure you have end-to-end encryption, which encrypts both messages in transit and stored messages. Access controls are used to ensure only the intended recipient and the sender can access the messages.

Some email service providers require individual emails to be encrypted by clicking a button or using a portal. Since it is easy to forget to turn on encryption and accidentally send an unencrypted email, it is a better choice to encrypt all emails, not only those that contain ePHI. This will reduce the potential for human error.

The type of encryption used is also important. While previously Data Encryption Standard (DES) was considered secure, that is no longer the case. You should consult NIST for advice on suitable encryption standards. Currently, AES 128, 192, or AES 256-bit encryption is recommended.

For many HIPAA-covered entities, especially smaller healthcare providers that do not have in-house IT staff to ensure their email is HIPAA-compliant, the use of a third-party HIPAA-compliant email service provider is strongly recommended.

Research potential HIPAA-compliant email service providers to ensure that they provide a service that is suitable for your requirements. A search on Google will produce several potential service providers.

Enter into a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement with your email provider

In your compliance effort, before using a third-party email service to send ePHI, you should obtain a business associate agreement. As outlined in the business associate agreement, the service provider is responsible for ensuring ePHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability through the use of administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.

You should look for an alternative option if an email service provider or compliant email vendor refuses to sign a business associate agreement as one of the business requirements. To work with HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates, an email service provider should be willing to sign a BAA.

Ensure your email is configured correctly

It is possible to violate HIPAA rules even if a BAA is obtained because of the risks of email. It is not enough to use a BAA-protected email service to ensure that your email is HIPAA compliant, you must ensure that your email is configured correctly and take appropriate compliance security measures.

Develop policies on the use of email and train your staff

Training your staff on the proper use of email concerning ePHI and compliance with regulations is essential after you have implemented your HIPAA-compliant email service. Health care workers, in the busy healthcare environment, have been responsible for several data breaches, including the unintentional transmission of ePHI via email without encryption and the transmission of ePHI to individuals who were not authorized to see the data. Employees must be aware of their HIPAA obligations and trained on how to use the email service to comply with the law.

Ensure all emails are retained

Because email retention is not specifically mentioned in HIPAA legislation, HIPAA’s rules on email retention are a little unclear. Covered entities should maintain an email archive, or at least ensure that emails are backed up and stored because individuals can request information on disclosures of protected health information and email communications may be required when legal action is taken against a healthcare organization. Emails may also be required to be kept for a set period of time under state law. Because of this, you should check the laws governing email in the states where you do business. Consult a lawyer if you’re unsure about anything.

HIPAA requires covered entities to keep documentation related to their compliance efforts for six years, and the retention period for security-related emails and emails relating to privacy policy changes should be six years.

Storage space is required even for small and medium-sized healthcare organizations to store 6 years of emails, including attachments. When it comes time to back up your emails, consider using a secure, encrypted email archive instead. Additionally, since an email archive is indexed, searching for emails in an archive is a quick and easy process. Emails can be quickly and easily retrieved if they are needed for legal discovery or a compliance audit.

To be classified as a business associate under HIPAA, any email archiving service provider will be subject to the same regulations as email service providers. It would be necessary to sign a BAA with that service provider and obtain reasonable assurances that they will abide by HIPAA rules.

Obtain consent from patients before communicating with them via email

HIPAA-covered entities need to remember that even if a HIPAA-compliant email provider is used, the patient’s written consent must be obtained before any ePHI is sent via email, no matter how convenient it may be. Patients should be made aware of the potential dangers of sending confidential information via email. Emails containing electronic health information (ePHI) can be sent if the sender is willing to accept the risks.

Partner with Wheelhouse IT 

You may believe that you can meet the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on your own, and you may be right. A HIPAA-verified Managed Service Provider (MSP) makes it much easier to achieve HIPAA compliance than if you were to do it on your own.

To keep your organization and in-house IT department HIPAA compliant, you can rely on Wheelhouse IT. Some of the benefits of working with us include:

  • Conducting HIPAA security risk assessments
  • Encrypting all PHI and stored data
  • Implementing backup and disaster recovery plans to keep data secure
  • Identifying system vulnerabilities and providing high-quality solutions
  • Providing the necessary technology to ensure data security
  • Providing services such as Remote Monitoring Management (RMM), cloud-to-cloud backup, and authentication and access management 

If you are looking for the assistance of an MSP for your HIPAA compliance needs, call the team at Wheelhouse IT today!

What Are The Three Rules of HIPAA?

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What Are The Three Rules of HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lays out three rules for protecting patient health information, namely:

  • The Privacy Rule 
  • Thee Security Rule
  • The Breach Notification Rule

A national standard is established when these three rules are followed, and health information that could be used to identify a person is addressed by these standards and privacy procedures.

Failure to adhere to the three HIPAA rules, compliance obligations, and security policy–or any security breach of electronic information systems through unauthorized access to electronic health records, confidential health, and medical history, or electronically protected health information–can result in civil money penalties (and even criminal penalties), a loss of reputation for healthcare professionals due to intentional violations, and even the loss of employment for an employee.

Businesses can face fines of up to $1.5 million for failing to comply with the law and addressable implementation specifications. As a result, if you are one of the covered entities under HIPAA, you must follow the three HIPAA rules and security management processes, taking appropriate corrective action when necessary.

Why are the three rules necessary?

For Private Healthcare Information (PHI): there wasn’t much of a consensus on what the best practices for PHI should be. But things began to change after the introduction of HIPAA.

In the beginning, there were privacy and security rules. Protected health information (PHI) was the focus of HIPAA’s new standards, which applied to the entire healthcare industry.

In addition to this, HIPAA’s primary goal was to improve the patient experience. Covered entities were given a variety of policies and procedures to ensure that their clients’ information was protected without a lot of hassle. Reduced paperwork, in addition to improving workflow, is a benefit to the covered entity.

To meet HIPAA’s requirements, code sets must be used in conjunction with patient identifiers. Health insurance portability is aided as a result of this ease of information transfer. With the Portability and Accountability Act in mind, healthcare providers are attempting to make the patient’s experience more pleasant.

HIPA’s rules also serve some much more minor purposes. Life insurance loans may be exempt from tax deductions, depending on the circumstances. It also improves the efficiency of healthcare services and makes it easier for patients to interact with them.

Who needs to have HIPAA compliance?

Private hospitals, health insurance companies, medical discount providers, and other business associates are all included in the scope of HIPAA’s application.

This type of business is known as  “covered entities,” and must abide by the HIPAA regulations and security standards. Exceptions to the HIPAA rules for covered entities are extremely rare.

A company or organization that provides third-party health and human services to a covered entity must adhere to the HIPAA regulations. As “business associates,” these companies are subject to the same regulations as the covered entities, even though they do not provide direct services.

The business associate agreement must be signed by both business associates and covered entities. Before undergoing any procedures, the confidentiality and integrity of PHI must be preserved, and the business associate agreement does that.

The three main rules of HIPAA

As mentioned earlier in this article, HIPAA legislation is made up of a few rules that outline what you must do to comply with the law. We’ll now discuss them in detail below:

1. The HIPAA privacy rule

HIPAA defines the circumstances under which a person may disclose or use PHI. Everyone has a right to privacy, but as we all know, there are some situations in which the rule might be applied. Those who are covered by this policy must adhere to a set of rules.

The standards set by the privacy rule address subjects such as: 

  • Which organizations must follow the HIPAA standards
  • What is protected health information (PHI)
  • How organizations can share and use PHI
  • Permitted usage and disclosure of PHI
  • Patient’s rights over their health information

In 2003, the HIPAA Privacy Rule was first put into place. That includes healthcare providers, as well as clearinghouses, and other health insurance entities. Healthcare-related business partners joined the list in 2013.

For the most part, the rule on patient privacy restricts the extent to which medical records can be shared without explicit consent. Allows patients and their next of kin (representatives) to access their medical records under the HIPAA privacy rule These requests for access and disclosure must be responded to within 30 days of receipt by the Covered Entities. 

Healthcare entities covered by HIPAA include:

  • Health plans 
  • Health care clearinghouses 
  • Health care providers 

The privacy rule restricts the usage of health information, which could identify a person (PHI). Covered entities cannot use or disclose PHI unless:

  • It’s permitted under the privacy rule, or
  • The individual has authorized it in writing.

The privacy rule does not restrict de-identified health information. 

2. The HIPAA security rule

The HIPAA Security Rule sets out the minimum standards for protecting electronic health information (ePHI). To access that information in electronic format, even those who are technically capable of doing so would have to meet those standards.

The HIPAA security rule covers the following aspects:

  • The organizations that may need to follow the security rule and be deemed covered entities.
  • Safeguards, policies, and procedures that can be put in place to meet HIPAA compliance
  • Health care information that is under the protection of the security rule

To put it simply, anyone who is part of the BA or CE and can access, alter, create or transfer recorded ePHI will be required to follow these standards. These technical safeguards will involve NIST-standard encryption in case the information goes outside the firewall of the company. 

In addition to technical safeguards, the security rule will include several physical safeguards. If you’re in a public area, you won’t be able to see the screen because of a workstation layout. Only a specific area within the company’s network allows you to do this.

Administrative safeguards are also checked, and they are combined with the security rule and the privacy rule. A privacy officer and a security officer are required to conduct regular (an ongoing process) audits and risk analyses as part of these safeguards.

These evaluations are critical to the safety of the system. When considering possible threats to the PHI, they don’t care if it’s just a theory. Consequently, they plan to implement a risk management plan based on it to avoid any potential risks that could occur in the future. 

A covered entity must take the following steps to ensure the security of all ePHI they create, send, or receive:

  • Ensure the confidentiality integrity and availability of the PHI
  • Protect against improper uses and disclosures of data
  • Protect the ePHI against potential threats, safeguarding their medical records
  • Train employees so that they are aware of the compliance factors of the security rule
  • Adapt the policies and procedures to meet the updated security rule

Confidentiality, integrity, and availability rules in health care must be met by the covered entity.

3. The HIPAA breach notification rule

Occasionally, there may be a breach. The breach notification rule comes into play here. The Department of Health and Human Services must be informed as soon as possible if there has been a data breach. Regardless of the nature of the breach, this must be done within 60 days of its discovery, this is where a good risk management plan comes in handy.

If a breach during administrative actions involves a person‘s personal information, that person must be notified within 60 days of the discovery of the breach.

In the event of a large-scale breach that affects more than 500 patients in a specific jurisdiction, the media should be informed as well.

An immediate announcement of a privacy violation is required by the HIPAA rule for breach notification. The Office for Civil Rights may impose fines if you don’t comply.

Alternatively, the Covered Entity may decide not to send a breach notification if it can show that the critical element of the PHI has not been compromised. A violation of privacy and security rules would be warranted if they are found to have been compromised.

Reportable Breaches and Exceptions

A breach of PHI occurs when an organization uses or improperly discloses PHI. However, they are only required to send alerts for PHI that is not encrypted. In addition to this, there are three additional circumstances in which the breach notification rule is more lenient, during such compliance violations and PHI breaches.

  1. If it was unintentional or done in good faith, and was within the scope of the authority.
  2. If it was done unintentionally between two people permitted to access the PHI.
  3. If the organization has a good faith belief that the person to whom the disclosure was made would not be able to retain the PHI.

Under such a case, the organization should ensure that such incidents don’t reoccur and take corrective action plans. Breach alerts are required only for unsecured PHI. If you secured it as specified by this guidance, then you don’t need to send the alerts. 

Partner with Wheelhouse IT 

You may believe that you can meet the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on your own, and you may be right. A HIPAA-verified Managed Service Provider (MSP) makes it much easier to achieve HIPAA compliance than if you were to do it on your own.

To keep your organization and in-house IT department HIPAA compliant, you can rely on Wheelhouse IT. Some of the benefits of working with us include:

  • Conducting HIPAA security risk assessments
  • Encrypting all PHI and stored data
  • Implementing backup and disaster recovery plans to keep data secure
  • Identifying system vulnerabilities and providing high-quality solutions
  • Providing the necessary technology to ensure data security
  • Providing services such as Remote Monitoring Management (RMM), cloud-to-cloud backup, and authentication and access control

If you are looking for the assistance of an MSP for your HIPAA compliance needs, call us at Wheelhouse IT today!

Why Is Technology Important In Healthcare

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Technology has unquestionably altered virtually every facet of our lives. Each of these aspects–including when we wake up with morning alarms, communication methods, how we shop for ingredients for our recipes, and how we travel–has been impacted by the adoption of technology. Technological advances have made life easier for all of us. One area where these advantages have been particularly beneficial is in healthcare (medical technology).

Technology can, and should, play a vital role in health. In fact, when used effectively, technology can become a major driver for health innovation. Some of the reasons why technology is such an important part of healthcare today are:

The efficiency of real-time record accessible at any time

Nearly all medical records are now electronically available via the cloud, secure shared network, and a variety of digital devices, so there’s no need to “check out” the chart from the chart room anymore. It is now possible to act on critical patient data in ways that would have been impossible without EHRs and other platforms’ comprehensive, real-time data along with communication features, safety alerts, reporting capabilities, and remote access.

Significant clinical data for analysis and treatment

Technology generates a large amount of data that can be used in the management of patient care. The Internet is used to automatically update pacemakers and stents. Some gadgets allow patients’ weight and blood glucose levels to be transmitted. Wearables transmit data on one’s sleep and exercise patterns.

There is also an increase in the amount of Big Data being used to produce reports and analytics that look for population trends and gaps in care management. By combining analytics with technology, it is now possible to identify best practices for improving outcomes on both a clinical and economic level. No doubt collecting and integrating all of this data is making it possible to provide patients with better, more individualized care. But until reimbursement, liability, and capacity issues are resolved, the data flood could be a double-edged sword for clinicians.

Improved medication safety

Because of technological advances, clinicians are now warned before prescribing drugs that could interact with one another or to which a patient has an allergic reaction. Technology has replaced books and human memory with automated safeguards that save lives, from CPOE systems (computerized physician order entry) to EHR alerting features.

 Higher quality communication and connectivity

Technology has also made it possible for physicians and care managers to communicate with patients between doctor visits and after hospital discharge. For instance, some apps send automated reminders that ask patients to answer questions after surgery or during healing, and algorithm-driven alerts identify patients at risk for hospital readmission or infection. Patient portals give patients online access to their medical records and medication histories and provide features such as registration, online scheduling, and bill payment. And telehealth platforms allow clinicians to conduct post-op visits, follow up after hospital discharge, or discuss medication adherence issues, all without requiring the patient to come into the office – a significant advantage for patients who have mobility or cognitive issues, or who live in rural areas.

The importance of the use of technology in the health industry

Some of the ways technology has impacted healthcare include:

Electronic Health Record Software

As medical technology improves, hospitals are turning to electronic health records to centralize patient information, ensure accurate patient records, and access to health information, as a result of the complexity of health information. These EHR programs make it easier for doctors to share patient data and an array of health information.

In the delivery of health information, patients can, for example, access their health records from home using electronic health record software. People can use these tools to find out what prescriptions, in the various aspects of patient care, they need to fill or if a doctor’s visit is necessary, enhancing comprehensive medication management.

Telemedicine

Many health organizations are starting to use telemedicine to improve adaptive health care system now that it is becoming more widely accepted. It’s already being used by a few health tech firms. Patients in remote areas can now use apps to communicate with doctors or specialists in other countries, making accessibility of treatment easier in clinical processes. Real-time video calls between these medical professionals are possible thanks to the Internet.

In other cases, health care providers can conduct examinations and issue medication prescriptions over the internet. Health centers will be able to offer more services without having to hire more staff if they use this type of technology. Because of this, they will be able to continue serving rural communities around the world with healthcare.

Big data In healthcare

Big data refers to complex and large data sets that have to be carefully processed and analyzed to identify valuable information that can help form future policies and streamline processes. Concerning the healthcare industry, big data can help in the following ways:

  • Better hospital staffing – Big data can study the current hospital admission rate and help the administration identify possible future admission rates (based on past data). Depending on the information, it can also highlight which facility might face the maximum admission allowing the hospital to better prepare and allocate ample staff and resources to manage all the patients. This reduces the emergency room wait times, saves money, and improves the overall quality of care.
  • Fewer medication-related errors – By studying patient records and medical history, big data can analyze inconsistencies in the level of care and flag any error or gap that’s coming between drug prescriptions and patient’s health in the medical field. It can alert the doctors in advance to the patient history if there is a potential risk of a medication error, as well as other medical errors. For example, if a certain kind of medication is causing adverse effects in diabetic patients, big data analysis can highlight this human error so it can be avoided.
  • Fostering preventive care – Often a large percentage of people coming to the emergency room are recurring patients (also known as “frequent flyers”). Big data can identify this section of patients and help the staff create preventive plans to keep them from coming regularly.

Wearable medical devices

As of 2017, the global wearable medical device market had a value of USD 7,859.4 million. By 2023, the market is expected to reach USD 27,255.6.

Once upon a time, having a physical exam once a year was considered sufficient. Patients would only visit the doctor in the event of an emergency. Patients, on the other hand, are more concerned with prevention and maintenance than damage control in today’s information and technology-driven world. They expect more frequent access to up-to-date information about their health.

As a result of increased demand, new ideas begin to emerge. The healthcare industry is now taking a proactive approach by investing in wearable technology that can provide patients with up-to-date data on their health and alert them well in advance of a major health event.

. Some of these include:

  • Exercise trackers
  • Calorie trackers
  • Heart rate sensors
  • Sweat meters – mostly used by diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels.
  • Oximeters – monitors the amount of oxygen carried in the blood. This came in handy during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. It’s mostly used by people with respiratory illnesses.

Investing in these smart wearable devices can offer various benefits to the healthcare organizations such as: 

  • Some fitness trackers gamify the whole experience of staying fit by adding goals and awards that you win when you complete a certain activity. This encourages users to be mindful of their diet, nutrition, and exercise.
  • These devices put the patient’s health into their own hands. They feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to track and improve their health.
  • Information obtained from a wearable device can help insurers rate a patient’s risk for illness more accurately.

Chatbots

Chatbots are artificially intelligent devices that communicate with you (AI). Customer service and marketing campaigns already make use of these devices today. Health tech firms are now using them as well. Asthmapolis, for example, is a mobile app for asthma sufferers. People with asthma who forget to take their medicine will be reminded by this chatbot-enabled app. This aids patients in achieving their wellness objectives.

In addition, hospitals can better track patient health information with it, without having to hire more medical professionals.

 Health tech industry jobs and careers

The health industry employs thousands of individuals who work on health tech products every day. Health organizations and healthcare practitioners also employ health care workers who provide health services for patients. With so many health tech jobs available, it’s easier now than ever to enter the health industry and contribute to this growing field.

Artificial intelligence (AI) in health

Using artificial intelligence (AI) in the medical field has already helped diagnose cancer, heart disease, and lung neoplasms. In fact, the FDA has given the green light to an AI program that aids doctors in their diagnostic process. As a result of this technology, human subjectivity is reduced, and patients’ health problems are more easily identified.

Studies have shown, for example, that radiologists are only 50% accurate when it comes to reading mammography reports. Additionally, they only read about 10 slides each day on top of all of the other demands. As a result, their work is boring and monotonous, and they have no motivation to do it.

It’s understandable why so many experts think AI will have a positive impact on healthcare. In fact, healthcare is one of the most likely industries to be disrupted by AI, according to health experts. And this is because health care is a multifaceted subject with numerous untapped potentials.

 

The role of information technology in healthcare is rapidly evolving. As a whole, technology has revolutionized healthcare. Moreover, this transformation is expected to continue for many more years. Healthcare is about to undergo major changes thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as deep learning, blockchain, healthcare mobile apps and wearables. There is no limit to how far technology can go in healthcare as long as healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals keep their minds open and create the necessary infrastructure and systems.

A stable and adaptable healthcare technology is the bedrock on which IT services for the healthcare sector are built. With our managed IT services from Wheelhouse IT, your business can meet today’s needs while also preparing for the possibilities of the future — and save money in the process.

Healthcare providers of all sizes have benefited from scalable technological solutions that have allowed them to incorporate new technologies into their operations. For instance, without a reliable network, electronic health records, electronic billing, and comprehensive staff management systems cannot operate. Slow and unreliable networks hamper operation in the healthcare environment.

Technology integration in healthcare isn’t only a means of complying with new regulations. Technological services are helping facilities compete more effectively in their markets. Doing more with fewer resources is the new normal for them. It has resulted in better patient outcomes and fewer errors as a result of better use of their staff’s time. Using data-driven, collaborative processes, they’re finding new avenues.

Partner with Wheelhouse IT 

Partnership with an IT service provider can help you meet your current needs while laying the groundwork for the ever-changing role of technology in in the healthcare industry. 

At Wheelhouse IT, we can resolve all of your IT issues and bring your systems back to full operation.  Even further, we’re well-positioned to help with HIPAA compliance issues, disaster recovery, and loss prevention. The effective operation of your facility depends on your technology and network. Our solutions will keep your data backed-up, private, and secure, even when the unexpected happens.

 

5 Ways Law Firms Can Better Protect Their Data

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Law firms have access to vast amounts of confidential data from their clients, making law firm data security crucial. Unfortunately, some law firms are operated by more traditional, less tech-savvy individuals who lack the knowledge of modern security requirements and threats.

Fortunately, law firms can take some simple steps that will help them better protect their data without overhauling their entire process.

Consider the following five methods for protecting confidential data.

1. Train Employees to Counter Threats

Law firms’ employees are the first line of defense against security threats. Yet, your law firm’s security is only as good as the training workers have received to counter threats to your systems. A frequent means of ingress for hackers and malware is through phishing emails.

Your workers must learn basic office security measures like how to identify a phishing attempt, how to secure their workstation before leaving, and to avoid plugging in random USB or other storage devices they find around the office. Along with additional training, your employees can prevent themselves from becoming victims to the most common threats.

2. Make Sure You’re Using Multifactor Authentication for Apps and Emails

Damage mitigation is an essential aspect of law firm security, too. Essentially, you want to limit what someone can do with small yet valuable bits of data that are relatively easy to obtain. For example, if someone gets access to an email address, they could try to access your company’s applications with it.

By enabling multifactor authentication on your systems, you can thwart most attempts at gaining access in this manner. After all, even if they have an email and a password, they’ll still need access to the user’s phone or biometrics to access an adequately secured program in your office.

3. Limit Your Guest WiFi

Most law firms with a waiting room for clients offer to share their WiFi by providing a password to their clients. Although WiFi is a nice amenity to offer, it also puts you at risk.

If you allow guests onto your law firm’s WiFi, they could access other devices on the network or create and exploit vulnerabilities for malware. Limit your guest WiFi systems and separate them from the WiFi used by your employees to be safe.

4. Consider Implementing Managed Security Services

Not all law firms have IT services on staff, which can leave them vulnerable if they don’t perform timely system updates or have someone available to counter an incursion. Some firms are too small to keep IT workers on the payroll. Sadly, that does not mean that they are less likely to be attacked by hackers than larger law firms.

An excellent approach to this situation is to get a managed services provider (MSP) to implement IT security, provide training, and update your law firm’s systems without having to employ them long-term. MSPs can implement protections that will make a law firm more secure and a less-likely target for criminals.

5. Follow a Proper Data Storage Plan

Although it may feel like modern computers are infallible compared to the systems of the past, hard drives failures, ransomware, and simple storage devices losses are still vulnerabilities for law firms that keep a single copy of valuable data.

A better storage philosophy to abide by is the 3-2-1 policy. Essentially an employee will:

  • Create three copies of important data
  • Use two different forms of media to store the data (Hard drive, USB, external hard drive, cloud)
  • Keep one copy of the data off-site for data recovery (safes or shadow)

This storage plan can ensure a law firm has much better protection for its data and a means to bounce back in the event of a disaster.

Law firms have too much important data to lack a necessary form of security in their offices. Each of the methods mentioned here should be considered or implemented depending upon the existing security state within one’s law offices.

Remember, your business is never too small to benefit from the help of security professionals, and in the case of security, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Learn more about law firm data security and determine if your data is truly secure with a free risk assessment from WheelHouse IT!