The Three Components of the HIPAA Security Rule

Written by Vivian Eden on March 8, 2021

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There has been a significant increase in investments in the healthcare space throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Crunchbase, $14.2 billion globally and $9.2 billion domestically in the United States were invested into this industry in 2020. The importance of mental health, distributing vaccines, and personalized care is only becoming more relevant in the world, leading to greater demand for health services of all kinds. But along with the increase in healthcare venture fundraising, we’re seeing a major influx of healthcare cybersecurity attacks. The HIPAA Journal reported in early 2021 that cybersecurity attacks are already up 45% globally on healthcare organizations — and it’s only March. 

With these stats in mind, IT professionals are under enormous pressure to prevent these attacks and detect threats quickly. For healthcare organizations based in the United States, this means adhering to the HIPAA Security Rule. Let’s walk through HIPAA’s three security components and identify how IT admins can utilize the JumpCloud Directory Platform to comply.

Components of the HIPAA Security Rule

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) writes, “The HIPAA Security Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ electronic personal health information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a covered entity.” These entities include all providers, health plans and health care clearinghouses that transmit any HHS information in electronic form. There are three components to this rule: Administrative, Physical, and Technical. 

Administrative Requirements

Administrative requirements include organization-wide actions and policies implemented to protect electronic health information and manage employee conduct. This generally means knowing which employees have access to certain data. It is recommended that organizations perform data security assessments annually and have a plan in place to fix compromised IT systems. Training is also usually a key requirement in this area as well.

Physical Requirements

Physical Security Requirements are meant to prevent any physical thefts or losses of devices that contain patient records. These breaches can involve stolen devices, but they also include simple actions like a malicious actor looking over a healthcare professional’s shoulder when at their desktop. The requirements for this component include keeping devices secured, such as training employees, maintaining IT management over devices, and other hardware security measures. 

Technical Requirements

Technical Security Requirements are controls put in place to protect networks and devices from data breaches. These controls include encrypting sensitive information, monitoring and alerting to protect networks, phishing training for employees, password rules, and other protections over access to important resources. 

Why Does Meeting HIPAA Standards Matter? 

Healthcare records contain information that is confidential between patients and providers. Jeopardizing this data by not having stringent security measures in place can be extremely harmful to both the organization as well as the patients they serve because the information is sensitive by nature and highly valuable on the black market. Creating a framework to implement and assess the validity of these controls is one of the greatest benefits of having the HIPAA Security Components in place. In short the HIPAA Security Rule is meant to provide patients confidence that their medical information is private and confidential.

Additionally, breaches in security due to a lack of cybersecurity rules is financially risky for health care organizations. A report by Hyperproof found that violating HIPAA can lead to large financial penalties and corrective actions. Certain violations can cost businesses up to $1.7 million which, especially for newer organizations, can be a business ender. Though this may seem harsh, the financial impact (let alone the risk to patients’ identities) of a data breach is much worse.

How JumpCloud Helps Admins Meet HIPAA Security Rule

The Zero Trust Model of trust nothing, verify everything is the recommended protection framework for all organizations. It is especially relevant for organizations wishing to meet compliance standards such as HIPAA. The model recommends that admins identify the vulnerable to “protect surfaces” within their organization and enforce policies to guard those surfaces. 

The JumpCloud Directory Platform helps IT professionals meet the HIPAA Security Rule with a Zero Trust Security mindset, providing configurations and policies to protect users and devices and track access to IT-controlled assets. 

In terms of meeting physical security requirements, JumpCloud allows administrators to apply security policies to ensure devices are kept safe in the event that a physical device is at risk of exposure. For example, admins can enforce lock screen timeouts for users, disable USB devices, and remotely lock and wipe Mac and Windows devices if necessary. Since the platform is cloud-based and device agnostic, IT admins can respond quickly no matter what kind of device is involved.

For meeting technical security requirements, administrators have the option to utilize those same security policies to encrypt the disks on their fleet of Mac and Windows devices. In addition, they can enforce password complexity rules and expirations, with the option to include multi-factor authentication (MFA) as another layer of protection when users attempt to access company resources. If necessary, administrators can enable Device and IP trust Conditional Access policies in order for users to access web-based resources only from trust devices and locations. 

Fleet-wide Visibility for Audits

Having records of these directory activities is very important when dealing with an incident or troubleshooting an end user’s issues, but it also is essential when security audits are performed. When it comes to the administrative components addressed by the HIPAA rule, JumpCloud Directory Insights allows admins to view and export a record of all authentication and administrative console events across each managed user, device, and resource. 

Directory Insights gives a detailed view of when and from where a specific user authenticated to a device, application, or other IT resource, and if they were successful in doing so. It also gives auditors the ability to see when a user is given access to a certain resource through tracking group membership. Lastly, if an administrator suspends or offboards an employee, this is reported in Directory Insights so that they can confirm that a user’s access was immediately revoked from company assets. 

See How JumpCloud Can Help Satisfy HIPAA Requirements 

The rise in cybersecurity breaches in the healthcare space makes implementing a zero trust framework exceedingly important. JumpCloud allows admins to get many of these controls in place from an easy to use, secure console independent of device type or user location. If you’re interested in seeing how JumpCloud can help your organization meet HIPAA (and other) compliance requirements, then try JumpCloud Free. JumpCloud Free grants new admins 10 devices and 10 users free to help evaluate or use the entirety of the product. Once you’ve created your organization, you’re also given 10 days of Premium 24×7 in-app chat support to help you with any questions or issues if they arise.

Vivian Eden

Vivian Eden is an Account Executive with JumpCloud. She has been with the company for a few years and enjoys learning and teaching others about the Cloud Directory Platform and how it can help companies. When not discussing JumpCloud, you can find Vivian walking her doodle, skiing or running in the great outdoors.

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