The 2021 Guide to HIPAA Compliance

Lazarus Alliance HIPAA Audit attestations that help protect client's data and reputation.

Table of Contents

  1. What is HIPAA?
  2. HIPAA Compliance Terminology
  3. What Are the Three Rules of HIPAA Compliance?
  4. What Is the HIPAA Privacy Rule?
  5. What Is the HIPAA Security Rule?
  6. What Is the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule?
  7. What Is the HITECH Act?
  8. What Is the Omnibus Rule?
  9. What Does HIPAA Compliance Entail?
  10. What Are the Penalties for Not Meeting HIPAA Compliance?
  11. What Can I Do to Ensure That My Organization is HIPAA Compliant?

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. HIPAA was put into place to protect patient data from theft or loss. 

Why is this important? Private Health Information (PHI) is considered some of the most sensitive data that a person can have. It was determined that it was critical to protect PHI for patients and that this responsibility fell on healthcare providers who used that information for treatment, research, or billing purposes. 

With the emergence of electronic PHI (ePHI) and digital technologies like networked communication and electronic recordkeeping, HIPAA became that much more important. HIPAA was therefore conceptualized to protect ePHI no matter where it is. 

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Compliance Automation Takes the Pain Out of the IT Audit Process

Compliance automation software is the answer to rising compliance costs

Compliance automation software is the answer to rising compliance costs

After last year’s U.S. presidential election, many businesses eagerly awaited a new “era of deregulation” that would allegedly result in relaxed compliance requirements – and lower costs. Although some regulations have been relaxed or even repealed, IT compliance is as time-consuming and expensive as ever. A recent survey by Wealth Management found that broker/dealers and registered investment advisors have increased their compliance budgets by an average of 9%. Further, investment advisors charged with compliance oversight report that compliance tasks take up 1/3 of their time. So much for the “era of deregulation.” Fortunately, the era of compliance automation is upon us.

In the Beginning, There Was Excel

For many years, organizations and third-party IT auditors have been using Microsoft Excel to “automate” their IT compliance processes. This worked well – in the 1990s, when the only other option was paper files. If your organization, or your IT auditor, is still using Excel for “compliance automation” in 2017, you aren’t actually “automating” anything. Excel is a great spreadsheet program, but it is not an IT audit and compliance solution, nor will it do anything to help you with IT governance and risk management, which are integral parts of compliance.

Modern RegTech software solutions, such as Continuum GRC’s IT Audit Machine (ITAM), are designed specifically to create, measure, monitor, and manage IT governance programs for compliance frameworks such as COBIT, FedRAMP, COSO, SSAE 18 SOC 1, AT 101 SOC 2, CJIS, DFARS, ISO 27001, ISO 27002, ISO 27005, NIST, and ITIL. With compliance automation software, your organization gets a truly automated, workflow-driven approach to managing, communicating, and implementing IT policies and procedures.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which compliance automation software saves time, money, and headaches.

How IT Compliance Automation Software Helps You Work Smarter, Not Harder

It helps you bridge the cyber security skills gap. The cyber security skills gap is quite real, and it’s getting worse by the day. Qualified cyber security personnel are difficult to find, and even if your company manages to snag one, it will pay top dollar for them. Compliance automation software fills this void by getting you the expert compliance help you need right now, at a price that’s far lower than what you’d pay to hire internal staff or even outsource the work to an IT audit firm. On average, ITAM users see a 46% reduction in labor costs.

It frees up your internal IT resources. Information technology personnel don’t grow on trees, either. By automating your IT compliance processes, your internal IT staff have time to work on initiatives that will grow your business instead of being bogged down with compliance audits.

It enables rapid report generation. Compliance automation software lets you say good-bye and good riddance to fumbling around and trying to reconcile a dozen different spreadsheets. Easy-to-use self-help modules and a centralized repository of all IT compliance requirements, with their associated controls and automated information flows, let you generate complex reports with just a few clicks of your mouse. On average, ITAM users speed up report generation by 180%!

It ensures that your controls are up-to-date. Compliance standards are continually evolving. Excel can’t tell you if your controls are compliant with the latest changes to IT security frameworks, but compliance automation software like ITAM can. If the regulations change, you find out right away, and you can respond right away.

It eliminates silos and improves cyber security. Respondents to the Wealth Management survey named cyber security as the top priority of their compliance efforts. Compliance automation software like ITAM doesn’t just make compliance easier; it integrates IT governance, policy management, risk management, compliance management, audit management, and incident management. With one user portal, you get the big picture of your organization’s cyber security controls, risks, and vulnerabilities.

The cyber security experts at Lazarus Alliance have deep knowledge of the cyber security field, are continually monitoring the latest information security threats, and are committed to protecting organizations of all sizes from security breaches. Our full-service risk assessment services and Continuum GRC RegTech software will help protect your organization from data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other cyber threats.

Lazarus Alliance is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-7580 to discuss your organization’s cyber security needs and find out how we can help your organization adhere to cyber security regulations, maintain compliance, and secure your systems.

Lazarus Alliance Clarifies What SSAE 16 Compliance Means

When contracting with a service provider, such as a data center, it is important for companies to ensure that their provider possesses the cyber security-related certifications and compliance standards that are applicable to the company’s industry. Data centers, as well as service providers who contract with data centers, sometimes claim to be “SSAE 16” certified. In an effort to cut through the noise and clear up some of the confusion regarding SSAE 16 compliance, Lazarus Alliance would like to clarify what SSAE 16 compliance is—and isn’t.

What is SSAE 16?

Lazarus Alliance Clarifies What SSAE 16 Compliance Means

SSAE 16 is an internationally recognized auditing standard for service organizations. It was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and replaces the previous standard, SAS 70. SSAE 16 reporting helps service organizations comply with the requirements of Sarbanes Oxley (section 404) to demonstrate effective internal controls covering financial reporting. SSAE 16 applies to data centers that host systems that are involved in their clients’ financial reporting, as well as web hosting providers, ASPs, and ISPs who perform services that are relevant to their clients’ financial reporting.

There are three types of reports that can be issued: an SOC 1, an SOC 2, or an SOC 3, all of which address different controls. Performing an SSAE 16 audit and issuing an SOC report demonstrates a service provider’s commitment to maintaining a sound control environment that protects their clients’ data and confidential information.

Some service providers who use SSAE 16-compliant data centers imply that they are, somehow, SSAE 16 compliant by proxy. This is not the case; just because you use a provider who is SSAE 16 compliant does not mean that your company is SSAE compliant, and to imply such is black-hat marketing.

There is No Such Thing as SSAE 16 “Certification”

A Google search on “SSAE 16” reveals numerous instances of companies claiming to be “SSAE 16 Certified.” Organizations are compliant with SSAE 16; there is no such thing as becoming “SSAE certified.” SSAE 16 has to do with issuing SOC reports; no “certification” is awarded to anyone. Beware of any service provider that claims to possess an SSAE 16 “certification” or purports to be working towards getting one.

Need SSAE 16 Compliance Auditing Services?

If you have questions about SSAE 16, or if your company needs SSAE 16 auditing services, Lazarus Alliance can help! Depending on your team’s availability, our SSAE 16 audit process initially takes just a few weeks from start to completion. We realize that our clients have full-time, everyday obligations in addition to dealing with auditors, so we will be happy to work around your schedule and provide a quality audit and report in the time frame you desire.

Lazarus Alliance’s primary purpose is to help organizations attain, maintain, and demonstrate compliance and information security excellence in all jurisdictions. Lazarus Alliance specializes in IT security, risk, privacy, governance, cyberspace law, and compliance leadership solutions and is fully dedicated to global success in these disciplines. Learn more about Lazarus Alliance and why Lazarus Alliance is Proactive Cyber Security™!