Friday, November 11, 2011
Protecting Health Information With a Web Application Firewall
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act allows for the continuing health insurance coverage for people even as they become unemployed or when they change jobs. The act also provides for the standards that would help ensure the privacy of an insured's information when it comes to electronic transactions with regards to health care. Starting in April 2003, the Act has safeguarded the use and divulging of what is called "Protected Health Information" or those that is related to an individual's health status, health care provision or they payment for such that may be traced back to an individual. The HIPAA is an ever growing concern now as hospitals, health care insurers and even doctors and other health professionals extend their businesses online. Right now, it is possible to get your medical tests results online, or perhaps get a prescription via e-mail or online. With the advent of Health 2.0, a lot more processes are now possible online where it used to require a visit to the doctors' office. Web Application Security and the HIPAA If you run a health-related site that collects, stores, and transmits patient data and information, it is best to make sure that your Web application security is up to HIPAA standards [http://www.applicure.com/solutions/hipaa-compliance]. The HIPAA requires that Web sites should be able to: 1. Encrypt all data that is to be transmitted, archived or stored. 2. Store all data, this includes backups and easy recovery. 3. Restrict access to relevant data only to authorized personnel. 4. Protect all data from being altered or tampered. 5. Destroy all data when they are not going to be used anymore. How a Web Application Firewall Can Help A Web application firewall can examine all packets of data that is transmitted from or to an application; thereby letting you screen and block specified content. Web application firewalls can help prevent hacking attacks that uses the holes in your Web applications itself. This helps you to protect the data you have on your systems from falling into unauthorized hands. With a hacking attack, the hacker can retrieve the information you have stored, and can get copies of all incoming data after putting malware on your system that allows him or her to record the activities on your system or Web site. Aside from this, a Web application firewalls can also help you keep out viruses and other malware that can destroy data you want to keep, or alter these data according to the way it is programmed. The sad thing is that, most Web hosts can easily offer a Web application firewall, but opts not to. If you have a health related Web site, be sure to get a host that offers this kind of protection.