5 steps for increasing web collaboration security for healthcare providers

5 steps for mitigating risks

Securing any enterprise is no small feat. This task becomes even more significant when it involves a healthcare organization. With the rapidly expanding use of web apps and collaboration tools in healthcare, coupled with the ongoing challenge of protecting patient data, it's no wonder that healthcare institutions are now taking extreme measures to ensure that security breaches don't occur within their organizations.

In fact, healthcare institutions are often the primary target for nefarious activity. According to a study on patient privacy and data security conducted by Ponemon Institute, the healthcare industry is experiencing a rise in data breaches. In this study, which involved 80 healthcare organizations, 94 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing at least one data breach over the last two years. The study further found that the average cost of a data breach to a healthcare organization is approximately $2.4 million.

In addition to the high cost of data breaches, if a breach occurs in healthcare, it often has far-reaching implications because the industry is so heavily regulated. This is why it is so important for these organizations to implement the strongest possible protection measures, particularly as this industry continues to take advantage of the benefits offered by remote access and online web collaboration tools.

Steps for mitigating risks
While the dangers associated with a data breach are quite real, there are steps that healthcare organizations can take to mitigate their risks while using web conferencing and other web collaboration tools. Below are five key steps to consider.

1. Compare options wisely
First, it is imperative to recognize that a healthcare organization's security is only as good as its weakest point. With a hosted conference service, there is little offered in terms of access security. As a result, meetings are opened up to practically anyone with a meeting ID and password. Such security can be easily compromised by gaining access to an attendee's calendar. In order to avoid this problem, it is important to select a server that will allow the organization to establish a virtual VPN between the attendees and the host. The benefit of this is that it limits the scope of the attendance to the specified external IP addresses. Best-in-class protection is ensured by restricting attendance to only authorized attendees and locations.

2. Consider the importance of SSL encryption
Strong Secure Sockets Layer encryption — an industry standard solution that blocks data from being read if it is intercepted — is critical for ensuring transmission security in terms of web conferencing applications. With a combination of proprietary encryption as well as SSL encryption, the healthcare organization is able to ensure that the transmission of passwords and meeting IDS are completely encrypted and secured.

3. Make sure your solution can be deployed behind the firewall
With a behind-the-firewall deployment, healthcare organizations are able to restrict access to internal meetings only through a private cloud.

4. Make sure DMZ deployment for internal and external meetings is available
Demilitarized zone deployment — a technology that allows only approved outside users to access meetings — offers a wealth of advantages including tremendous flexibility that allows facilitation behind a company protected firewall and allows external attendees to join a meeting. With this option, you should be able to check an option that will restrict the meetings to internal attendees only. Any attendee that attempts to access the system from outside the organization's firewall will be automatically rejected.

5. Consider web collaboration vendors With solid reputations
Finally, consider the reputation of the organization with whom you are considering to deploy your web collaboration solution. Evaluate whether or not the company has strong security protocols in place with their solution. Also, consider solid case studies and customer testimonials that speak to the company's technology performance and security solutions. See what types of awards and recognitions the vendor has earned. And, find out what their customers have to say about their experience working with them.

The risks related to a data breach within the healthcare industry can be significant. However, by carefully selecting the right partner for online collaboration, it is possible to benefit from the advantages offered by remote access without placing your healthcare organization at risk for a data breach.

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