5 ways DLP helps secure healthcare data
By Mr. Filip Cotfas, Channel Manager, CoSoSys
Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions, successfully used in many industries that need to protect personally identifiable information (PII), have been increasingly gaining traction as part of healthcare cybersecurity strategies for quite some time already. Designed to protect sensitive data rather than the systems where the data is stored, DLP security solutions offer flexible, customizable data security policies, templates, and workflows that allow companies to control and monitor patient data within and, most importantly, these days, outside of the work environment. Let’s take a closer look at how DLP solutions help secure healthcare data!
1. Blocking unauthorized health data transfers
Most health data is forbidden from leaving an organization’s premises without being encrypted or transmitted through secure, authorized channels. This ties into the need to limit data access on a need-to-know basis. Employees, particularly those working from home, may be tempted to use unauthorized third-party apps and services to perform their duties efficiently. They might use tools such as popular instant messaging applications, personal emails, cloud storage services, or one-time web transfer services. With the security of these services not tested by healthcare organizations’ IT departments, there is a high risk of data leaks occurring.
Using powerful contextual scanning, content inspection tools, and predefined policies, DLP solutions identify health data in files and in the body of emails in real-time before they are sent, blocking their transfer through unauthorized channels.
2. Controlling removable devices
Employees often use removable devices such as USBs or external drives to copy large files or amounts of information. Due to their size and portability, these devices can easily be lost or stolen and, in recent years, have also become popular tools for malware attacks. Their usefulness is undeniable, but how can healthcare organizations continue using them without endangering health data security? DLP offers an answer.
Many DLP solutions come with device control options, which means organizations using them can block or limit the use of USB and peripheral ports to authorized company-issued devices. Some DLP vendors even offer enforced encryption options that ensure that any data copied onto a USB is automatically encrypted and access to it is restricted to those with a decryption key.
3. Restricting access to data
One of the many ways health data becomes vulnerable is when it’s locally stored on employees’ hard drives. Many times, files with such sensitive information are used once and forgotten or archived, although they should be deleted when no longer needed. This also greatly increases the risk of losing this data in phishing cyberattacks since local files are easily accessible for malware such as trojans and ransomware.
DLP tools can scan data stored locally for healthcare information, and remediation actions such as deletion or encryption can be taken when it is identified on unauthorized personnel’s computers. In this way, the healthcare sector can reduce the digital trail of health records and ensure they are only stored where needed.
4. Monitoring and logging
DLP solutions help control how health data is transferred and stored and continually monitor its movements. All attempts to violate a policy are logged. DLP monitoring and logging features allow healthcare organizations to identify weaknesses in their cybersecurity strategies, discover cybercriminal tactics, as well as identify insider threats and other security risks. As a result, they can save money through more effective IT security training for employees and more cost-effective cybersecurity strategies that address known vulnerabilities.
5. Health data protection while working remotely
Depending on the level at which they are applied, DLP security measures will work not just on-premises but also remotely, for example, on company laptops. Hitech DLP solutions are implemented at the computer level, working closely within operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and macOS, and continue to guarantee data privacy and prevent data theft whether a computer is connected to a healthcare provider’s network or the internet. In this way, healthcare data protection is uninterrupted.
This is especially important now after the COVID-19 pandemic. Although regulations have been relaxed to allow for remote work, which has become popular during the pandemic and is here to stay in many organizations, none of their requirements have been waived. It is, therefore, essential for healthcare organizations to ensure continuous compliance.