How to Achieve HIPAA Compliance for Data Storage

5 min read
James Mignacca
November 29, 2023
James Mignacca
November 29, 2023
Related Resource
Take Cavelo for a Spin
Screenshot of the Cavelo dashboard
See how our platform can manage your company's digital assets and sensitive data, all through a single pane of glass.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is just one of the many regulatory requirements that businesses must align to. HIPAA compliance for data storage in particular is crucial for healthcare-related businesses, and any other businesses or entities that handle protected health information (PHI).

There are countless cybersecurity risks associated with data storage, and organizations must be vigilant in addressing these risks to safeguard sensitive information.  

Here are a few of the most common risks:

Unauthorized Access and Insider Threats — Unauthorized individuals gaining access to sensitive data, either through external hacking or insider threats, pose a significant risk. Insider threats can come from employees, contractors, or anyone with legitimate access to the data.

Ransomware Attacks — Ransomware is on the rise, and healthcare organizations with sensitive patient data are an attractive target.

Insecure Interfaces and APIs — Weaknesses in application programming interfaces (APIs) or insecure interfaces can provide attackers with a pathway to compromise stored data.

Supply Chain Vulnerabilities — Dependencies on third-party vendors, especially those providing cloud storage services, introduce additional risks. Compromises in the supply chain can impact the security of stored data.

Complying with HIPAA requirements

Efforts taken to mitigate cybersecurity risks make compliance an easier task to tackle. Organizations can start with a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes robust access controls, encryption, regular security audits, employee training, and a proactive approach to identifying and addressing potential vulnerabilities. Regular risk assessments and staying informed about the evolving threat landscape are also critical components of a strong cybersecurity posture.

This robust mix of processes and controls can ensure your business complies with HIPAA requirements for data storage.

Here are 10 key steps you can start with:

01. Understand HIPAA Requirements

Familiarize yourself with the HIPAA regulations, particularly the Security Rule and the Privacy Rule, which outline the standards for the protection of electronic PHI (ePHI). Stay updated on any changes or updates to the HIPAA requirements as they tend to be revised on a regular basis.

02. Conduct a Risk Assessment

Perform a thorough risk assessment of your data storage systems to identify potential vulnerabilities and risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI. Regularly review and update risk assessments to address changes in your environment.

03. Implement Administrative Safeguards

Develop and implement policies and procedures that govern the use, access, and disclosure of PHI. Train employees on HIPAA compliance and security awareness, and designate a Privacy Officer and a Security Officer to oversee compliance efforts.

04. Physical Safeguards

Ensure that physical access to servers and data storage facilities is restricted and monitored. Implement measures like access controls, surveillance, and visitor logs to secure physical locations where PHI is stored; this includes medical equipment.

05. Technical Safeguards

Use encryption to protect PHI during storage and transmission. Implementing access controls to restrict access to PHI based on job roles and responsibilities as well as regularly auditing and monitoring system activity, including access logs and security incidents, are important activities to maintain.

06. Data Backup and Recovery

Establish a comprehensive data backup and recovery plan to ensure the availability of PHI in case of data loss or a security incident, and regularly test them to verify their effectiveness.

07. Business Associate Agreements

If you work with third-party vendors who have access to PHI, ensure that you have signed business associate agreements (BAAs) with them. These agreements should outline their responsibilities regarding the protection of PHI and support accountability in the event PHI is mishandled or exposed.

08. Incident Response Plan

Develop and implement an incident response plan to address security incidents promptly and establish a process for reporting and documenting security incidents, including breaches of PHI.

09. Regular Audits and Monitoring

Conduct regular internal audits to assess compliance with HIPAA requirements.

10. Documentation

Maintain comprehensive documentation of all policies, procedures, risk assessments, and security measures implemented to demonstrate compliance in case of an audit.

Remember that achieving and maintaining HIPAA compliance is an ongoing process that requires diligence and continuous improvement. Engaging with legal and security professionals who specialize in healthcare compliance may also be beneficial for ensuring that your specific circumstances are adequately addressed.

The Cavelo platform continuously scans cloud applications, cloud hosted servers, and on-premises servers and desktops to identify, classify, track, protect, and report on sensitive data, including PHI. It automates data discovery and classification, producing an up-to-date and accurate data inventory that supports HIPAA audit and reporting requirements.

Take a self-guided tour and see how the Cavelo platform supports HIPAA compliance for data storage and more.

Share this post
Our blog. Your inbox.

Receive thought leadership content, advice from industry experts, and news about events with your peers. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Want to schedule a demo?

We’re confident you’ll love Cavelo. But if we’re not a good fit for your unique business security needs, no hard feelings.