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17 Sep 2021
9 Best Practices for Ensuring Cloud Compliance of Healthcare Data
For a sector that has traditionally lagged behind its peers, the healthcare sector is leading the way in cloud computing adoption. As per the West Monroe Partners study, 35% of healthcare facilities surveyed stored more than 50% of their records or infrastructural facilities in the cloud. While compared to other sectors, healthcare has proven to be one of the furthest along with cloud adoption. For example, in comparison, 31% of energy and utility companies and 18% of financial services companies used the cloud to store 50 percent of company data or infrastructure.Healthcare organizations face more significant risks compared to other businesses when it comes to data breaches and additional privacy and security concerns. For example, patients and practitioners exchange personal information, such as contact information, for mutual benefits gained through collaboration, making them susceptible to data breach risks.Cloud hosting has been widely adopted by businesses worldwide, and adoption rates in the healthcare industry have been high compared to most sectors. Healthcare CIOs and other senior HIT executives are responsible for securing and protecting patient data, adhering to HIPAA regulations, and leveraging technological innovations to reduce costs and improve performance. As a result of the high level of regulations, there is a risk-averse technology culture in some portions of the healthcare industry that rewards the status quo and slows progress.Following best practices in healthcare cloud computing is your roadmap to reaping all of the benefits of the cloud while ensuring HIPAA compliant cloud hosting and adhering to the highest data security standards.Because cybersecurity threats are evolving rapidly in the healthcare industry, a multi-faceted and sophisticated approach should be implemented to protect customer data. Following these best practices could help healthcare businesses keep potential security threats at bay:1. Conduct Cloud Compliance Training for Healthcare PersonnelWhen it comes to privacy incidents, there will usually be an apparent human element at work. Unfortunately, incidents like these are typical in the healthcare industry. Staff cybersecurity training provides your staff with the knowledge they need to handle patient data appropriately, and it will also prevent them from making rash decisions that jeopardize the businesss security while also making your staff aware of common and uncommon mistakes made by employees that they might not think of otherwise.2. Implement Data and Application Access ControlsRestriction of access to sensitive patient data and critical applications strengthens healthcare cybersecurity even further. User-based access controls also ensure that sensitive data is only accessible to those who are required to have access to perform their job responsibilities. Multi-factor authentication methods such as secure PIN or password, security key, fingerprints, or eye scanning in tangent to username and passwords may be used to ensure that the person trying to access does indeed have permission to access critical applications and user data.3. Establish Data Usage ControlsHealthcare organizations can detect and block malicious or risky data activity in real-time by implementing reasonable restrictions on data usage operations. Specific delicate data-related activities should be prohibited, like uploading to the web, copying data to external sources, and sending unapproved emails.4. Log and Monitor Data Usage and AccessBy logging and monitoring access and data usage, IT managers can determine all information and details accessed or which applications and resources were used across the organization. Most IT Managers will preset thresholds for alerting of such activity since it is not possible with todays workloads to have a single human being able to review server logs of activity. This aids in the detection of suspicious activities and the implementation of security controls where necessary. In a security incident, healthcare organizations will precisely locate where the error has occurred and find solutions for its causes and efficient mitigation strategies.5. Whenever Possible, Encrypt DataEncryption is without a doubt one of the most critical security measures in healthcare organizations. Encryption ensures that even if hackers obtain patient information files, they cannot use the information in any situation without the ability to decrypt the data. HIPAA advises healthcare organizations to implement stringent data encryption strategies based on data flow within the organization.6. Pay Attention to Mobile Device SecurityMobile devices used in the healthcare sector have grown dramatically over the years, with many organizationsdeveloping healthcare mobile apps for practitioners and patients. Healthcare professionals use it to obtain patient records to treat patients effectively, and officials may use it to process medical insurance coverage. It is critical to safeguard the security of such portable devices, i.e., mobile devices.A few practices to assure mobile device security inside the healthcare industry include:Using complex passwords and multi-factor authenticationThe ability to track, lock, and remotely wipe lost or stolen devicesEncrypting data in transit, data at rest, and live stored dataMonitoring device health to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited and ensuring devices are patched and updated as much as possible7. Eliminate the Risk of Connected DevicesConnected devices have become extremely common because of the rapid development of technologies like IoT and AI. There are so many types of devices in the healthcare industry, which all are constantly connected to the network and hold patient data. Here are some safety precautions that should be put in place to eliminate risks in devices like these.Install security patches and keep your connected devices updated.Decommission any unsupported or end-of-life devices immediately.Set up a multifactor authentication system for any user access to devices.Before using the devices, disable any unnecessary features and only capture the data you need while ensuring any stored data meets your data security requirements.Keep an eye on access attempts and usage to spot any suspicious activity.Keep network separation if possible for IoT devices and where critical data is stored to reduce the number of systems that could be vulnerable if a break of an IoT device does happen.8. Perform Vulnerability Assessments RegularlyA critical part of a proactive security strategy is performing vulnerability assessments regularly. Assessments like these will help identify where the companys infrastructure is weak; they will also highlight where employees and vendors lack security readiness. Regular vulnerability assessments assist healthcare organizations in proactively identifying elements of the possible threat and eliminating them to avoid expensive data breaches and their negative consequences. It is suggested to have the vulnerability assessment performed every two weeks on an automated schedule to ensure that any new known vulnerabilities are scanned for quickly so they can be patched with the same urgency.9. Back-Up Sensitive Data SecurelyData breaches in the healthcare sector can disclose patient information and jeopardize the integrity and availability of the data stored in the system. Therefore, backups of patient data are essential for healthcare organizations because they cant afford to lose their most important asset.Offsite backups of data should be made to protect the data currently in use as a minimum level of redundancy. Additional security measures such as encryption and access controls will help add extra layers of protection. Apart from addressing cybersecurity concerns, data backups will be beneficial in disaster recovery for an organization. If your healthcare organization is utilizing mission-critical servers, it is highly recommended to not stop at just offsite backups but to also pursue active/active diverse locations just in case there is a disaster declared at one location. Data availability is the cornerstone of HIPAA compliance, so ensuring that data is available to the level of your business requirements is critical.ConclusionAccording to various security experts, these data breaches in the healthcare industry will continue happening. In addition, the use of mobile and cloud platforms in the healthcare industry will make it more vulnerable to extruder attacks. Therefore, we must be aware of all risks to navigate potential data privacy and security threats in the healthcare industry.Get Help with HIPAA ComplianceAtlantic.Net stands ready to help you attain fast compliance with a range of certifications, such as SOC 2 and SOC 3, HIPAA, and HITECH, all with 24x7x365 support, monitoring, and world-class data center infrastructure. For faster application deployment, free IT architecture design, and assessment, call 888-618-DATA (3282), or visitwww.atlantic.net.
10 Sep 2021
Data Storage 101: The Basics of Data Storage
Information is stored on a variety of storage devices nowadays. One of the most pressing challenges is deciding which storage to utilize and for what types of data use cases mobile apps, databases, websites, files, or mission-critical data backup. In this article, well review the basics of data storage along with some of the best options available to organizations today.Data Storage: DefinedIn its most basic form, data storage refers to the use of a recording medium to store data on computers or other devices. Moreover, data storage specifically refers to magnetic, optical, or mechanical media that records and preserves digital information for current or future operations.Types of Data StorageAlthough it is not difficult to comprehend data storage, the various types and options might be perplexing, especially if you are not an IT expert. Below is a quick rundown and a closer look at the different types of data storage:Primary StoragePrimary storage refers to the computers memory. It includes:Random Access Memory (RAM)Read-Only Memory (ROM)Secondary StorageOn the other hand, secondary storage is non-volatile and can preserve data even after the computer has gotten turned off. The following get included in this category:Compact DiscsHard DrivesFlash MemoryTertiary StorageTertiary storage comprises devices such as removable mass storage that are attached to the computer. These get used frequently to store files that the user only seldom accesses, such as:USB flash drivesExternal Hard DrivesSSD CardsBenefits of Data StorageThe increase in the appreciation of the importance of data storage paved the way to the rise of cloud storage a technology that keeps, maintains, and secures data remotely.Below is a list of the advantages of this type of data storage:Safe Backup StorageThe 3-2-1 backup strategy encourages businesses to make three copies of their documents, with the first two getting saved in two different types of storage and the third being kept off-site. Cloud storage makes this a whole lot easier as it allows you to keep the third copy of your data off-site and secure.Scalable ServiceIn cloud computing, you just pay for what you use, so you do not have to guesstimate how much more space you will need for the year and risk paying for empty or insufficient space.Increased SecurityCloud data storage can help you become more secure against cyberattacks. Cloud storage ensures that your credentials and data are protected with many layers of security, allowing you to rest easy knowing that only authorized individuals have access to your files on the cloud.Data Storage Solution ProvidersToday, the cloud is getting used by thousands of businesses, big and small. It might be time to use cloud-based solutions to grow your organization. As you deliver world-class customer experiences to your market, integrating cloud storage ultimately improves your business, increases efficiency, and improves revenues. Below are several providers who bring decades of experience to this business-critical task:365 Data Centers365 Data Centers object storage platform allows you to store, organize, and share files using APIs or compatible applications. Their object storage solution gives you the flexibility and availability to store nearly an infinite amount of files without the burden and hassle of operating a complicated infrastructure. 365s robust, carrier neutral ecosystem and secure, reliable edge colocation, network, IP, DRaaS, BaaS, cloud compute and storage, and business continuity services help organizations reduce costs, drive innovation, and improve their customer experience.EquinixEquinix Metal enables customers to more easily take advantage of Equinixs global reach and rich ecosystems by making automated interconnected bare metal available at software speed worldwide. Utilizing Pure Storage on Equinix Metal allows users to run their operations as a true, automated, storage-as-a-service model seamlessly across multiple clouds.QuadraNetQuadraNet is a Fully Integrated Multi-Site Solutions provider with 20 years of experience developing, managing, and implementing technologies at enterprise scale. Their Infracloud Storage Solution is billed hourly based on your online resource size. With transparent pricing and no gimmicks, this remains a great solution for customers who want little surprises with their data storage solution.VPLSWith 18 data centers worldwide and over 68,000 servers under management, VPLS has the expertise and global reach for all your cloud, colocation, hosting, backup and disaster recovery needs. When it comes to their data storage solution, VPLS Solutions is proud to partner with the fastest growing storage company in history, Nimble Storage. Nimble Storages flash optimized hybrid storage arrays are engineered for maximum efficiency, performance and value. Nimble Storage integrates the exceptional performance of flash with the favorable economics of high-capacity hard disk drives to make the perfect storage solution for your critical data and applications.
26 Aug 2021
Dedicated Cloud Hosts: Security and Compliance Considerations
Dedicated cloud hosting is growing in popularity, and is becoming a viable option for larger enterprises and organizations with compliance requirements. In this article, Ill discuss how organizations can enjoy the benefits of cloud hosting, while ensuring compliance with standards like GDPR, PCI DSS and HIPAA, understanding security risks inherent in a cloud environment, and addressing them.What is Dedicated Cloud Hosting?Dedicated cloud hosting involves selling or leasing a physical server, deployed in a hosting providers data center, to a customer.In most cases, the server will include a hypervisor, allowing it to integrate with the providers cloud computing environment. Unlike in traditional hosting scenarios, servers can be instantly provisioned, and quickly decommissioned when no longer needed.Another benefit of dedicated cloud hosting over traditional hosting scenarios is that it guarantees dedicated hardware, with full control over its configuration. Customers have full control over cloud servers on a dedicated cloud host, with the flexibility to configure and customize it as needed.Dedicated cloud hosting provides capabilities like:Attaching high performance block storage to the serverCustomizing hardware configuration on the server and scaling vertically as neededCustomizing DNS and networkingCreating Snapshots for cloning or testing purposesCreating Backups Onsite and Offsite while integrating with the organizations existing backup plansSetting up custom replication and high availabilityRegulatory Compliance for Cloud HostingIf your organization is subject to regulations or industry standards, you need to make sure your cloud hosting is compatible with those standards. Lets briefly review the compliance requirements for three important standards, and basic steps to ensuring compliance:GDPRthe European Unions data privacy regulation, affecting any organization that does business with EU citizensPCI DSSa standard created by the payment card industry to ensure that cardholder data is properly protectedHIPAAa US regulation affecting organizations in the healthcare industry, with strict requirements for treatment of protected health information (PHI)GDPR Compliant Cloud HostingWhat are GDPR requirements for cloud hosting?Here are some GDPR requirements that impact cloud hosting:You can not process, use, or store personal data of EU citizens without consent and the use of this data is limitedRight to be forgotten, meaning that EU citizens can request to have their personal details removedHow to comply with GDPRBoth you and your cloud service provider need to be compliant with GDPR:Select a GDPR-compliant providerDetermine your GDPR responsibilitiesall cloud providers should have a shared responsibility model. Typically, your organization is responsible for securing your data and workloads, while the cloud provider is responsible for infrastructureSeparate data that is protected under GDPRif possible, ensure that GDPR-protected data is not mixed with non-protected data in the same databaseApply security controls and deletion workflows to GDPR-protected dataPCI DSS Compliant Cloud HostingWhat are PCI DSS requirements for cloud hosting?According to the PCI SSC Cloud Computing Guidelines, PCI DSS requirements for cloud hosting depend on the following factors:Business use of cloud services you have deployedWhich requirements under PCI DSS are taken care of by the cloud providerScope of cloud provider systems that are PCI DSS compliantSpecific systems or services used by the organization, including services specifically used for compliance, such as security servicesHow to comply with PCI DSSThe guidelines detail the following measures to ensure cloud services are PCI compliant:Perform a risk assessmentConduct due diligence of cloud services you are usingCheck Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to ensure they are appropriate for PCI DSS requirementsPerform a review of all cloud and managed services selected and ensure they meet PCI DSS standards for your level of PCI DSS requirementsEnsure you have an appropriate business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan for cloud-deployed servicesRead the full guidelines for more informationtake special note of the different requirements for cloud providers and customers.HIPAA Compliant Cloud HostingWhat are HIPAA requirements for cloud hosting?Cloud computing is not explicitly covered by the HIPAA Act, but it appears in its Privacy and Security Rules. HIPAA allows healthcare organizations to move PHI to public or private cloud platforms, provided that:The cloud provider signs a business associate agreement (BAA)They ensure the providers cloud environment is HIPAA compliantThey put the relevant safeguards in place for their data and applications to comply with HIPAA RulesHow to comply with HIPAAWhen selecting a HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting environment, ensure it includes the following security and disaster recovery controls:Firewall and intrusion prevention system (IPS)Ability to securely connect to the cloud using encrypted VPNData at rest must be encrypted, and stored in a HIPAA-compliant data centerMulti-factor authenticationFull audit trail with detailed event logsHigh resilience with SLA of 100% server uptimeBackups with off-site storage and automated/assisted data recoveryCloud Hosting Security RisksData LossMany organizations face significant risks when storing data in the cloud. Cloud storage services can easily be exposed to public networks, and if they are not securely configured, this can result in data loss. Multiple users and organizations can receive access to cloud systems, and improper management of credentials and privileges can result in data breaches.In addition, social engineering attacks, accidental file deletion, errors in cloud automation, and the use of personal devices to access cloud services can result in data loss.Unsecured APIsCloud service providers offer powerful application programming interfaces (APIs) to manage and automate cloud services. These interfaces are well documented and readily available to cloud users, but also to potential attackers.If customers do not properly secure cloud APIs, attackers can exploit weak authentication or other security flaws, to access and steal sensitive data. In some cases, attackers can leverage API weaknesses to compromise cloud infrastructure, abuse cloud resources, and disrupt operations.DDoS attacksDistributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are designed to flood servers with fake traffic, overwhelming the server and ensuring it cannot respond to legitimate requests.Cloud computing is based on shared distributed computing resources, which makes it much easier for attackers to carry out DDoS. A particular danger of cloud deployments is that attackers will leverage an organizations own cloud resources to wage DDoS attacks against others, creating legal exposure and other risks for the organization.Cloud Hosting Security Best PracticesEnsure VisibilityCloud environments have a large number of dynamic components, including data volumes, compute instances, and containers.When using cloud hosting, it is important to establish an inventory of all current and historical cloud assets to prevent unchecked growth and eliminate the unnecessary spread of assets, each of which can represent a threat surface. Cloud monitoring strategies that allow you to quickly and reliably see deployed assets are the first steps to protecting your assets.User Identity and Access Management (IAM)Cloud computing extends network security beyond the traditional corporate network. Users can access cloud resources from many devices and locations, requiring strong access control.Two-factor authentication (2FA) and single sign-on (SSO), provided by all major cloud providers, enable granular management of roles and privileges, which can help create consistent, storing access controls between on-premises and cloud environments.Implement Endpoint SecurityCloud systems are, by definition, accessed remotely. Even if a cloud system is highly secured, the ability to access it from endpoints like laptops and mobile devices can compromise security. Endpoints can easily be compromised by attackers and may be used as entry points to sensitive cloud systems.To ensure that endpoints do not represent a security threat, organizations should:Deploy endpoint security tools on corporate-owned devicesControl allowed applications on user devices using whitelists and blacklistsMonitor endpoints to enable detection and response to threatsAchieve central control and visibility of endpoints across multiple clouds, and the on-premise environmentSet policies in one place for endpoints across the organizationCarefully review bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, and if it is not possible to deploy endpoint security solutions on BYOD devices, control or limit the way in which these devices can connect to cloud servicesUse Backup and Recovery SolutionsIn the cloud, because systems are heavily integrated and automated, and operate at a large scale, one accidental or malicious command can result in catastrophic data loss. Ransomware is also a major threat in the cloudfor the same reasons, it can spread faster and do more damage than it would on-premises.To protect data in the cloud, set up continuous, automated backups using snapshots or similar mechanisms, and store backups as far away as possible from your production deployment. Backups should be in a separate cloud account, or even on a different cloud provider, to prevent them from being accessed by compromised accounts.Ensure you have automated and tested recovery procedures, letting you recover business data quickly in case of an attack or data loss event.In addition, use automated workflows to archive data that is not frequently accessedarchives can be protected with stringent security measures without disrupting productivity.ConclusionIn this article, I briefly discussed how to use cloud hosting while remaining compliant with GDPR, PCI DSS, and HIPAA. In addition, I covered several security best practices that can help larger organizations make use of the benefits of cloud hosting:Ensure visibility of assets and storage services running in your cloud environmentLeverage cloud-based MFA for user controls to minimize the risk of stolen credentialsUse endpoint security for devices accessing your cloud servicesPrevent data loss by leveraging cloud-based backup and recoveryWe hope this helps you stay secure and compliant as you transition your hosting services to the cloud.Get Help with HIPAA ComplianceAtlantic.Net stands ready to help you attain fast compliance with a range of certifications, such as SOC 2 and SOC 3, HIPAA, and HITECH, all with 24x7x365 support, monitoring, and world-class data center infrastructure. For faster application deployment, free IT architecture design, and assessment, call 888-618-DATA (3282), or visit www.atlantic.net.
19 Aug 2021
How Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) Can Make Your Job Easier
As consumer expectations rise and businesses strive for every competitive advantage, fully shifting contact centers to the cloud is becoming an ever more pressing need. Companies should accelerate their adoption of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions in order to gain that crucial edge on the competition.Defining CCaaSContact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is a software deployment approach that allows businesses to buy only the technology they need and typically gets managed by a vendor to save money on IT, integration, and support. In contact centers, CCaaS solutions are cloud-based customer experience (CX) solutions. However, in some cases, an on-premise CCaaS software solution is preferable.Contact Center vs. Call CenterBoth contact centers and call centers are customer service centers, and these terms frequently get interchanged. The main distinction between the two is that call centers exclusively handle inbound or outbound calls. In contrast, contact centers provide omnichannel customer service via email, chat, Voice over IP (VoIP), and website assistance.Notably, the modular infrastructure of the cloud based contact center also allows managers to maximize the effectiveness of their teams while also benefiting from improved security, more protected data, improved customer interactions, and increased flexibility.The Benefits of CCaaSBusinesses that choose a CCaaS solution can benefit from a wide range of cost, convenience, efficiency, ease of usage, and customer satisfaction benefits.With that, the following are three advantages that every CCaaS customer can anticipate by implementing contact center technology:Greater Customer ExperienceAlthough contact centers exist to serve customers, traditional solutions have frequently failed to deliver on their promises.Customer-centric CCaaS solutions get built to fit the way people work and interact today, and they continue to improve. In addition, CCaaS systems link to email, social media, mobile, and real-time chat into a unified platform that supports information tracking across all channels, resulting in a superior customer support experience.High Degrees of Scalability, Reliability, and AvailabilityOne of the most common advantages of a cloud contact center solution is that it allows businesses to quickly scale to meet changing business and customer demands, including the option to add or remove agents.Moreover, CCaaS systems provide the highest levels of availability, reliability, and disaster recovery, with most providers guaranteeing uptime of up to 99.99% by storing infrastructure in geographically redundant data centers. These data centers also get staffed around the clock 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Substantial Cost SavingsWhen you move to a cloud-based, omnichannel CCaaS solution effectively matches the significant cost savings offered by most as a service cloud migrations. These are some of them:Diminished downtime;Low power costs;Optimal hardware utilization;No upfront investments;Reduced IT staffing; andSimplified billing.Top CCaaS OfferingsWhile there are many big name organizations that have CCaaS listed as a solution in their suite of services, were going to focus on those companies that specialize in providing contact center deployments across business verticals. These companies have the expertise, flexibility, and innovative thought to deliver custom made solutions regardless of your organizations needs.8x88x8s eXperience Communications Platform provides call center software, business phone, video meetings, team chat, and APIs and embeddable apps to their customers. 8x8 cloud solutions help businesses transform their customer and employee experience. With one system of engagement for voice, video, collaboration and contact center and one system of intelligence on one technology platform, businesses can now communicate faster and smarter to exceed the speed of customer expectations.RingCentralWith their flexible, cost-effective cloud communications and collaboration solutions, RingCentral creates the ideal workplace where business can be done more efficiently and effectively. From an all-in-one cloud phone system with team messaging, video conferencing, and performance management, to a complete contact center, RingCentral builds solutions for every business, no matter how big or small.TalkdeskTalkdesk is an enterprise cloud contact center solution provider that offers an intuitive and adaptable platform. They strive to empower companies to continuously improve customer experience with solutions that are easy to set up, use, and adapt as business needs change. A leader in Gartners Contact Center as a Service Magic Quadrant, Talkdesk offers ongoing innovation, superior call quality, and instant integration to the most popular business applications.NICE inContactNICE inContact is a cloud contact center software leader with one of the industrys top cloud customer experience platform. NICE inContact CXone combines best-in-class Omnichannel Routing, Analytics, Workforce Optimization, Automation and Artificial Intelligence on an Open Cloud Foundation. Their solution provides organizations with the analytics and tools necessary to provide exceptional customer experiences by acting smarter and responding faster to consumer expectations.