Despite spending a lot of time making sure they are compliant with federal and state regulations, health care organizations claim they are still seeing a lot of data breaches.
does not necessarily reduce the chances of a data breach, at least for the
health care industry, according to a new study. Even more worrisome,
organizations appear to be focusing more on compliance and less on security.
About 56 percent of IT
security professionals in the health care industry said they spend the majority
of their time addressing compliance requirements, according to the results of a
GlobalSign survey released May 26. Even so, 34 percent of the health care
industry IT security professionals polled said their organizations experienced
a patient-records data breach within the past two years.
The survey "validates" the
fact that health care organizations are putting in the effort to comply with
HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the HITECH
(Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, and other
state and federal regulations, according to Lila Kee, chief product officer at
GlobalSign. However, it also demonstrated that "checking the boxes on
compliance audits" will not ensure security or privacy when it comes to
sensitive data, Kee said.
Organizations that pay more
attention to HIPAA don't fare any better. Even though more than half the
respondents reported devoting more time to ensure they met HIPAA compliance
procedures over other regulations, 47 percent said they had experienced a
patient-records data breach in the past two years. In an April study by
Ipswitch, 40 percent of network administrators said HIPAA was the most
challenging security regulation to implement.
About 37 percent of IT
security professionals in the survey admitted to spending less than a quarter
of their time on improving security or protecting patient privacy.
GlobalSign surveyed 107
health care industry IT security professionals, including administrators,
managers and C-level executives, for this report. A little over half the health
care organizations included had 5,000 employees or more.
The findings for the health care
industry did not mirror a similar report from the Ponemon
that examined how efforts to comply with PCI-DSS (Payment Card
Industry-Data Security Standard) affected an organization's security.
PCI-compliant organizations suffered fewer or no data breaches in 2009 and
2010, compared with previous years, the Ponemon Institute found. In comparison,
only 38 percent of organizations that were not PCI-compliant were able to make
the same claim.
"At the end of the day, we
believe that PCI-DSS is one of the most effective data-security regulations
today and can significantly help companies improve their data-security
posture," says Amichai Shulman, co-founder and CTO of Imperva.
Considering that PCI-DSS
seems to be doing its job of making an organization more secure, perhaps health
care regulations should be modified to consider security from the outside.
"HIPAA is considering using PCI" as a skeleton framework for auditors to ensure
proper security for medical records, Rob Rachwald, director of security
strategy at Imperva, told eWEEK.
A majority of the
respondents, 79 percent, said finding effective tools to deploy and manage both
security measures and compliance requirements, is the biggest challenge facing
the IT department. Organizations need to thoroughly evaluate technologies
before deployment to ensure they can address both auditor requirements and
actually protect data and patient privacy, Kee said.
GlobalSign said its new
Biowrap identity-based service will allow health care organizations to improve
security while maintaining compliance. Biowrap allows the user to decide which
pieces of information to encrypt before transmitting the data electronically.
The individual employee has to first log in to the service before encrypting
any data. With Biowrap, IT departments don't need to roll out public key
infrastructure certificates for individual users.