HIPAA and the Cloud
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If you’re in the healthcare industry and thinking about the pros and cons of switching over to the cloud, then one of your top concerns is following HIPAA regulation, or ensuring the confidentiality of your patient information. So the question becomes: is it more secure switching to the cloud?
This depends on a number of factors, especially the specific security protocol of your cloud service of choice, but we’ll try to break it down for you here.
Traditionally, your IT workflow is based on physical, on-premise servers and storage devices. What this means is that there are essentially two points of access for hackers: 1) your hospital or office’s local network—the security of which depends on how your IT specialist set up firewalls and how up-to-date your security protocols and software are, and 2) physical devices—the dozens, if not hundreds, of desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile devices being used around your facility might be storing sensitive data and files, which could easily be accessed if the devices were stolen. While this method is still widely used today, it’s easy to identify security vulnerabilities.
With a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) cloud solution, all of your employees would have their user accounts hosted in the cloud, meaning that all files, data and software would be hosted in the cloud instead of on physical devices or on a local network. Since the only access point then becomes a portal to your DaaS account, stolen devices are no longer a concern. And neither is having your network hacked.
With such a cloud solution, all security rests in the hands of your cloud provider. This is where the differences among cloud services and deployment methods become especially critical. In short, public clouds have an enormous scope of access where all of their users (sometimes millions) are logging into their accounts through the same portal. If a hacker were to gain access through the firewall, they could feasibly gain access to several accounts at once. A private cloud solution, however, will most likely have each of their clients set up with customized firewalls under the client’s domain, making it inherently safer than a public cloud. For more details about the differences among each type of cloud service, refer to our Cloud Computing 101.
The bottom line is that if your cloud provider is secure, then there are fewer security concerns to have with a cloud solution than a traditional on premise infrastructure. In summary, utilizing a cloud service to host your healthcare database can be an extremely safe and cost-effective IT solution for your business.