Not everyone with an account on your network needs access to every file and folder. In fact, giving someone access to everything can be dangerous. That’s why security experts recommend a strategy called privileged access management (PAM). With this policy in place, each user is only granted the access necessary.
Privileged access creates a hierarchy of users based on their roles. An I.T. systems administrator might be a super user, for instance, with access to everything. But the majority of accounts in your organization should have access as a “user,” giving them the rights to read and even edit certain files for example, but not the ability to delete the folder or change access for others.
Privileged access management and HIPAA
PAM works on the principle of least privilege, which states that each user should be granted the lowest level of access necessary. This is especially important for healthcare providers.
Covered entities or business associates that store electronic protected health information (ePHI) are subject to HIPAA regulations. That means that if your patients’ health data is compromised, regulators could ask questions about your network access policies. So it’s important to pay close attention to how HIPAA looks at user access.
HIPAA’s minimum necessary standard
One key provision in the HIPAA Privacy Rule is the minimum necessary standard. This standard states that PHI should not be disclosed unless necessary. This standard also requires that practitioners limit access to records and information to only the necessary people.
The goal of the HIPAA Privacy Rule is to protect patients, but it’s also important for your practice to be able to operate efficiently. With privileged access management, you limit access with the understanding that you will review any requests for access and approve them.
Why is PAM useful?
There’s a reason HIPAA set a minimum necessary standard. Security breaches often come as a result of stolen credentials through phishing email attacks. Your employee clicks on a link in an email and then enters credentials into a site that looks legitimate. The bad actor now has the information necessary to infiltrate your network.
With PAM, though, that employee would have a lower-tier level of access, which limits the damage a hacker could do. With an administrator’s access, for instance, a hacker could access folders containing ePHI or install malware, increasing the scope of a breach.
SEE ALSO: The Complete Guide to HIPAA Violations
Using PAM to reduce HIPAA violation risk
Under the HIPAA Security Rule, any entity dealing with PHI must have security protocols in place. This includes having a process for managing security and a designated security official responsible for overseeing it.
Your security official shouldn’t just randomly decide who gets super-user access and who is designated as a standard user. There should be documented processes that the Department of Health and Human Services could review if you ever have a data breach.
Paubox Email Suite Plus encrypts your messages by default, allowing you to protect any information you send, including PHI, with no extra effort on your end. Our solution includes ExecProtect which protects your organization against one of the most widespread types of phishing attacks, display name spoofing.
Best of all, HIPAA integrates with both Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, or Microsoft Exchange. Your recipients will receive the encrypted messages directly in the inbox, with no password or portal login required. When combined with PAM policies, Paubox Email Suite Plus will help keep your patient health information safe.