Network security is a huge topic. There is external network security, internal network security and different ways to protect both. According to the FBI there were 467,361 cyber crimes reported to the FBI’s cyber crime division in 2019. That is an average of 1300 attacks a day with more than $3.5 billion in losses! As a Covered Entity under HIPAA, you probably know that this is a VERY serious situation for you. With that said, let’s talk about precautions you and your Information Technology (IT) team can take to help to help alleviate the threat.
External Network Protection
First we will talk about your external layer of protection. You are probably wondering why your IT company is asking you to buy a $1,000 router/firewall and renew support for it every year when you can just run to Best Buy and get a Linksys or similar router for $50 with no yearly fee. The reason is external security. Your router/firewall is your first layer of protection. That $1000 WatchGuard, PaloAlto, or similar business firewall will provide services that the Best Buy Linksys just will not. A good business router/firewall such as the ones I listed above have features that will decrypt and scan all incoming network traffic for threats, they will block access to questionable sites, they will block specific regions and they will log all traffic to a logging server. They will also report threats to your IT company if configured properly. The logging is especially important due to HIPAA reasons. These services provided need regular updates to identify new threats and that is why your IT has you renew yearly. Think of the yearly renew as a flu shot. The update provided gives the firewall a image or signature of a virus so if it see it, it can fight/block it. Of course, it can only block what your IT doesn’t allow.
Internal Network Protection
Internally you should have a good Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam software. Your probably wondering why? Why do I need this if I paid for that expensive router/firewall? Well, things can still get through the router/firewall. You may ask your IT to unblock a music site or a clothing store. That site may have ads, you click the ad and there you go, virus! Another scenario could be a email attachment that you receive and try to open, virus! Believe it or not, email is the most used method by bad actors to penetrate your infrastructure. Most IT company’s used signature based Anti-Virus software. I prefer the internal AV to us behavior protection such as SentinelOne. The reason I choose behavioral based over signature based is simple, Signature based only knows the virus’s it has been shown, like the flu shot only blocks strains it has included. Behavior based watch’s and stops bad behavior. So your router/firewall should do signature based and your internal AV should be behavioral based.
You should also have a company monitor your network for strange traffic. A lot of IT companies are break/fix or time and materials so they won’t monitor. You need a Managed Service provider such as QuickMSP to monitor your network live and detect threats.
Finally, it comes down to end user training. During your annual HIPAA security training, you need to include time for your IT to train your staff on things like email phishing attempts and not opening emails from unknown sources.
Give QuickMSP a call or email to setup a network/security audit today!