By: Sumeet Bhatia, TigerText Chief Technology Officer
It is often a neglected topic of IT management and HIPAA compliance, but the maintenance of an IT Infrastructure and its security policies are critical to the success of any healthcare operation’s HIPAA compliance program.
Correct and regular maintenance will help IT infrastructures and systems run smoothly and make them less likely to break down or get hacked – ensuring effective performance, and also helping to reduce support costs while meeting security compliance requirements.
A Maintenance Policy
A smooth-running network starts with defining a good IT Maintenance Policy, which should also include upkeep related to security hardware and software as well and any systems that provide security and functions needed for HIPAA compliance.
A basic IT Maintenance Policy should include an interval schedule for things like archiving old materials, deleting redundant files to free up space and defragmenting hard drives so things can be accessed more quickly.
Server OS software updating is critical for any good IT Maintenance Policy. This ensures that systems have the latest software updates, which help maintain the security of the entire IT Infrastructure. Also, updating any other software such as MDM software, anti-virus and mobile apps that are used by staff, including HIPAA compliant secure messaging apps like TigerText.
If you don’t perform regular updating, your IT network won’t fail immediately; however, neglecting these maintenance tasks over long periods of time increase the risk of hacking attacks which could penetrate the network and cause data loss and in turn, HIPAA violations.
Besides the dangers of hacking and data loss, not having a routine IT Maintenance Policy can cause slow systems, crashes and create a shortage of space for new files. This includes not only the servers, but also desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones that all access the IT Network.
A good IT Maintenance Policy also needs to include strong security maintenance to ensure the network is protected against hacking and outside threats or attacks.
IT Security Maintenance tasks include performing regular scans for viruses and spyware, backing up data frequently and changing passwords on a regular basis. There are many great tools to protect your business IT infrastructure – Symantec, McAfee, EMC, etc. so there’s no excuse for failing on the security front.
Although the main focus of many IT managers is protecting the servers and the basic network infrastructure, many are now finding out that it is the mobile devices on the network that can pose a large security threat. Dealing with an IT Maintenance Policy that only focuses on the servers is easier to implement for many IT managers because it is relatively centralized.
The problem is that unless the IT Maintenance and Security Policy includes all the desktops and mobile devices, then it is missing one of the most important parts of the IT Infrastructure – the web browser.
The web browser is a central focus for today’s cyber crime, and its vulnerabilities are commonly known and exploited. This is done via email links and when users visit a malicious website. That is why it is important to make certain that your IT Maintenance Policy ensures desktops and mobile devices connected to the network have the latest antivirus and security software installed is critical for success.
It is also important to plug security vulnerabilities by using robust enterprise software, backup procedures and apps to help guarantee security. By having a well-thought-out and encompassing IT Maintenance and Security Policy in place, enterprise organizations, in healthcare especially, will be able to offer their staff, customers and shareholders the confidence that the company and personal data is secure and that HIPAA compliance can be met.