An MSP (or managed services provider) is a third-party company that provides network management services. Basically, this kind of company is much like a standard internet service provider (ISP), except that they do a lot more than simply deliver the internet. They can provide all sorts of security advantages, and it is those advantages on which we will focus today. Here are some of the ways in which MSP companies can help to keep medical firms (and their sensitive data) safe in an age where hacking has become a constant threat.
The Importance Of HIPAA Compliance
Data protection is mandated by law for most companies, but the medical industry is far more regulated than most. This makes sense when you consider the fact that they are dealing with highly personal data on an everyday basis. Failure to protect the information of patients/clients can result in some very stiff fines.
If a transgression is deemed to have been unavoidable (or at least nearly so), the fines will be lower. HIPAA fines are structured in four tiers. Tier 1, which is for minor offenses, carries a minimum fine of $100. The second tier has a minimum fine of $1,000. At tier three, it goes up to at least $10,000. For a tier four violation, you’re looking at a minimum of $50,000, and there is no upper limit. The first three tiers have a maximum penalty of $50,000, so there is a lot of flexibility here…but not for you.
The bottom line is this: If you can show that your company took all reasonable steps to prevent a data breach, your liability and fines will be much less. Thus, good cybersecurity practices can save a medical firm thousands of dollars at a time.
Now that you have been given some background information, let’s get to the important part. Let’s talk about the things that MSP companies can do to help medical firms protect that all-important data privacy.
1. Offline Data Backup
Ransomware is one of the most common cyber attacks in the world today, but it can be defeated. The basic idea of this malware is that it encrypts your computer or network and holds all that data for ransom. If the victim pays a certain sum, the criminal might be willing to give over a password, allowing the data to be unlocked again. Needless to say, you can’t trust those kinds of people to keep their word.
The best thing is to delete the whole drive and reinstall the operating system. Of course, this means losing all the data, but that’s why backups exist. A backup file is a condensed file that contains the data of an entire operating system, and it will usually come in the form of a disk image file. An MSP should store your online backups, but you want to make sure they are stored on a device that cannot access the internet.
2. Encrypted Servers
Network encryption is one of the best ways to protect data, and that has been proven repeatedly. The technology is simple, effective, and time-tested. Can encryption be defeated? Yes, but it is very difficult. First of all, you need a long and random password. Short, simple passwords can be cracked in minutes, but a good password might take years to decode.
A good MSP company should provide an encrypted network, similar to a VPN, for a medical firm. This kind of company definitely needs top-tier security, so encryption is a must. In fact, it is best to use multiple layers of encryption. For example, you could use encrypted routers combined with encrypted servers and DNS encryption as well. This creates multiple layers of defense, each of which will be quite difficult (if not impossible) to circumvent.
In general, cyber-criminals depend on their victims to be ignorant. Just about anything they do can be traced or detected, but a person has to be looking for those telltale signs. That’s where good network monitoring plays a key role. Unless you feel like hiring someone to sit in front of a monitor all day, an MSP gives you the best way to get 24/7 network monitoring from people with the expertise to recognize and respond to a threat quickly.
Network monitoring is easily one of the best ways to prevent data breaches and other attacks. Basically, they monitor the entry and exit points, keeping track of who joins the network and what data is exchanged. So, when the criminal tries to download something without authorization or upload a piece of malware, that network traffic can be detected. As you can see from this study, network monitoring is most effective when you have the right tools for the job, and most MSP companies will have those tools at their disposal.
4. Sharing Liability
Even if you did nothing wrong, a data breach can make your organization look pretty incompetent. It can lead to a great loss of reputation and we have already talked about the huge fines that might be incurred. If things do reach that point, an MSP can help a company even further by sharing some of the liability for those losses. We aren’t suggesting you dodge responsibility, but sharing that responsibility can be very helpful.
5. Employee Training
The majority of data breaches begin with what’s called a “social engineering attack.” In essence, it’s just old-fashioned con artistry. There are all kinds of ways in which hackers can trick people into giving them sensitive information. Usually, such efforts revolve around the impersonation of legitimate entities. A good MSP can provide valuable employee training that will reduce the risk of a successful social engineering attack.
This is just an introduction to a broad subject, as there are many other ways in which an MSP can aid a medical firm in securing its data. Whether you are concerned with compliance, cyber-crime, or legal liability, the use of an MSP makes good sense. If you would like to learn more about how you can acquire the services of a high-quality MSP company, call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.