Wireless Internet technology has revolutionized the way in which we communicate. Rather than being bound by wires, we can send and receive data from practically any device that's equipped with a wireless network card. However, the use of such technology can lead to conflicts regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
If you keep up with our blog here at https://www.allpointcompliance.com/Blog, you're probably aware of the general principle behind HIPAA and why it was created. Originally signed into law back in 1996, HIPAA is designed to protect the privacy of healthcare customers by laying out rules that doctors, physicians, dentists, chiropractors and other covered entities must follow. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for enforcing these rules, fining or placing other penalties on covered entities that fail to follow them.
So, how does the HHS view WiFi in relation to patient privacy? Being that WiFi involves Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI), not written or verbal, the Security Rule dictates the way in which covered entities should protect their wireless networks. But if you read through HIPAA's lengthy, and sometimes confusing, Security Rule, you won't find any specific information about WiFi security, leaving many covered entities with more questions rather than answers.
Just because HIPAA's Security Rule doesn't directly address the topic of WiFi security doesn't necessarily mean that you can overlook it. On the contrary, the Security Rule was written in a way that allows for technologies such as WiFi to expand and evolve. If the Security Rule outlined specific measures, for instance, these measures could change as the technology evolved, at which point they would become obsolete.
HIPAA's Security Rule basically states that covered entities must implement “reasonable” and “appropriate” safeguards to protect EPHI from unauthorized use or disclosure. When speaking about WiFi, this includes securing your network with encryption. The two most common forms of WiFi encryption are WEP and WPA2, both of which are effective at preventing prying eyes. Of those two, however, WPA2 encryption offers the highest level of security.
There are other steps you can take to secure your WiFi as well, such as installing network monitoring software. Software such as Who Is On My WiFi will allow you to see exactly who is using your wireless network. So even if someone infiltrates your network, you'll have a record of them doing so.