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Healthcare: How to protect your sensitive data and why you should

In the healthcare sector, people operate with the most sensitive information. From billing information to personal and health-related data. The industry has been changing due to digital transformation and is often a target of internal and external data threats. With new technologies and data processing, data can leak without being noticed, and the consequences of such leakages can be unpleasant. No matter whether data leaks via email, communication platforms, databases, IT systems, or portable devices, the leak can cause damage. ​

Furthermore, healthcare is regulated when it comes to privacy and data security. Healthcare institutions must follow specific regulations, such as HIPAA and GDPR, and need to protect their patients’ data.

Even though protecting data in compliance with regulations might sound like a challenge, with the right tool,​ it can be a piece of cake.

Sensitive data in healthcare

Personal data is any information that can directly or indirectly lead to an identifiable natural person. Any type of personal information can be linked to a specific living person and that is why it needs to be protected against misuse or leakage.

Healthcare institutions operates using personal and other sensitive data, such as:​

  • Cardholder data​
  • Names ​
  • Geographic identifiers ​
  • Phone numbers ​
  • Email addresses ​
  • Medical record numbers​
  • Account numbers ​
  • Vehicle information​
  • Fingerprints, retinal and voice prints​
  • Social security numbers ​
  • Health insurance numbers ​
  • Certificate and license numbers ​
  • Full face photographs​

Your institution might also have other sensitive data, such as strategic and business plans, or data about your employees, customers, or contractors. Such sensitive data should also be protected. ​

What is Data Loss?

How Companies Produce Data:​

Business data is any information that is relevant for running a company. Companies gather data from various sources and channels, and they do so via different software or AI.

What is Data Flow?​

Data flow is the movement of your company’s data throughout your systems. Data can flow via both software and hardware and can be changed during the process of moving.​ Different employees and teams have access to data at specific points in the data flow. They can change data, provide data to other departments or vendors, or even delete data.

Data can be found and moved via the following channels (both official and unofficial):​

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Data can leak at any moment, and every stage of the data flow can be risky in terms of data protection.​

What are the Threats to Data Security?

External threats​

  • Malware
  • Phishing campaigns​
  • DDoS attacks​
  • Ransomware​

The number of cyber-attacks continues to increase, so companies need to protect their data with even more care. Data protection is the only way to keep data safe, and to protect it against theft or encryption, which are used in order to blackmail companies or sold on the dark web.​

Internal threats​

  • An email sent to the wrong address​
  • A lost or stolen device​
  • Former employee taking client lists​
  • Clicking on a phishing campaign​

The latest studies have shown that up to 95% of data leaks are caused by insiders. Insider threats are on the rise due to digital workspaces, flexible and remote work, and agile and BYOD approaches. Most of these leaks and threats are unintentional – 56% were caused by negligent employees.​ ​

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It is crucial for organizations to have a tool that can prevent data leaks. At Safetica we have seen that when your DLP is properly set, your data is protected against insider threats,” 

Radim Trávníček, CISO in Safetica.​

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What are the Consequences​ of Data Leaks?​

Data leaks might cause real damage to an organization. No matter whether the data is in an email, or through communications platforms, databases, IT systems, or portable devices. Leaks are always a huge challenge.​

Data losses can cause​

  • Brand damage​
  • Loss of business secrets​
  • Decrease the value of company stock​
  • Regulation violations and fines from authorities​
  • Customer churn​

Data breaches in Healthcare

Data protection is one of the most critical components of a comprehensive security strategy.​

Did you know that 60% of small companies go bankrupt after a repeated data breach?​

Smaller businesses do not typically have the resources available to defend themselves against insider threats. However, with Safetica, data protection has become easier than ever and can be implemented with little effort by businesses of all sizes.​

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HIPAA Regulations that Healthcare Institutions​ Must Comply With​ GDPR

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is the federal law that created national standards for protecting sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge or consent.

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The purpose of HIPPA:​

HIPAA was created in order to modernize the flow of healthcare information and ensure that patients’ healthcare information is treated more sensitively. The regulation makes sure that Personally Identifiable Information is protected against fraud and theft and cannot be disclosed without consent.​

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PHI and ePHI:​

Any company or individual that works with Protected Health Information (PHI) needs to be in compliance with HIPAA. PHI is created when any health data is combined with personally identifiable information. When PHI is stored electronically, it is called ePHI.​ HIPAA defines when PHI can be used and disclosed and protected, and what to do in case of a data breach.

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Penalties for HIPAA violations are issued by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and state attorneys general. HIPAA uses four categories for penalties: ​

  • Lack of Knowledge: The entity was not aware of the violation; therefore, it could not have been avoided. The penalty per such violation is $120—$30,113
  • Reasonable Cause: The entity should have been aware of the violation, however, could not have avoided it. The penalty per such violation is $1,205—$60,226.
  • Wilful Neglect: The entity wilfully neglected HIPAA Rules but tried to correct the violation. The penalty per such violation is $12,045—$60,226.
  • Wilful Neglect and not Corrected: The entity wilfully neglected HIPAA Rules and didn’t make any attempt to correct the violation. The penalty per such violation is $60,226—$1,806,757.

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is a European Union protection regulation that came into force on May 25, 2018.​ It applies to all organizations that process the personal data of EU residents. This means that companies in the EU and abroad are affected. GDPR is the strictest and most complex personal data protection regulation in the world.​

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The purpose of GDPR:​

The purpose of the General Data Protection Regulation is to protect people’s privacy. Therefore, companies are obliged to protect the personal data of EU citizens and cannot process it or sell it to any third party without their consent.​

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Personal Data:​

GDPR considers personal data to be any information that can directly or indirectly lead to an identified or identifiable natural person, such as:​

  • Employee personal data, information about customers​
  • Non-public personal data of business partners and providers​
  • Personal data that is transferred to and processed by third parties​
  • Images and sound recordings​
  • Encrypted data​
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In the event of a GDPR violation, there are two types of fines that a company may be obliged to pay.​

  • The lower level is up to 10 million euros, or 2% of the worldwide annual revenue from the previous year, depending on which is higher. Violations connected with record-keeping, data security, etc. ​
  • The upper level is up to 20 million euros, or 4% of the worldwide total revenue from the previous fiscal year, depending on which is higher. These fines are usually issued for violations relating to data protection principles, the legal basis for processing, the prohibition of processing sensitive data, denial of data subjects’ rights, or data transfer to non-EU countries.​

How you Can Protect your Data with Safetica?​

Perform security audits and have an overview of your sensitive data​

It is important to know where your sensitive data is stored, how your employees process such data, and how it is shared with external parties. When your data processing is secured, the risk of data leakage is reduced.​ ​

Safetica performs data security audits and provides a detailed overview of sensitive or financial data flow and storage. Once you have discovered all the weak points in your data security, Safetica then allows you to set DLP policies accordingly.

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Set your DLP policies – notify, restrict, and raise awareness of data security.​

With Safetica you can create security policies based on your needs. What should happen if an employee is about to do a potentially risky operation? Choose from these scenarios:​

  • Notify the employee about the possible risks and let them decide whether they want to proceed. ​
  • Notify the employee about the possible risks and block the operation.​
  • Restrict operations that you find risky.​
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When you choose to use notifications, you​ also educate your employees about data security.​

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Make sure that only selected employees and parties can access sensitive files ​

Safetica can limit file operations with personal information, such as uploading, moving/copying, printing, and screenshots. Safetica provides organization-wide management of storage encryption to ensure that data-at-rest is not accessible to outsiders.

DLP policies can prevent PHI from leaving an organization. Additionally, a secured perimeter (zone) can be defined to specify authorized recipients and third parties who are allowed to work with the data without restrictions.

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Real-time email alerts in case of security incidents ​

Actual or attempted data security incidents are flagged within the Safetica solution. Automated reporting and real-time email alerts promptly notify the appropriate personnel, inform them of the incident, and provide sufficient detail to assess the impact of the situation. ​ ​

Safetica offers content inspection, risk analysis, and DLP policies set for all data channels, and can recognize when somebody makes a mistake or takes chances with your sensitive data.

In case of a data breach, you will be notified immediately, so you can report the incident to the data protection authorities in a timely manner and provide them any necessary documentation. ​

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If you feel like it will take too much time to set up your DLP solution, don’t worry. Safetica also offers templates for DLP policies that are really simple to use, which will free you up for other work.​

Safetica provides two types​ of solutions for data loss prevention​

Safetica is easy to implement, integrate, and use. Our solution doesn’t create extra hassle for employees or the IT department. Automation of security policies and integration with your IT stack help you protect your assets even in complex environments. Safetica secures data on all endpoints, all devices, all major operating systems (Windows, macOS), and the cloud, perimeters and internal zones.​

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Cloud-native DLP solution as a service

designed for companies that do not have in-house infrastructure. Thanks to​ pre-configured settings and automatic reports you only need a few hours per week to manage the solution. Safetica NXT offers monthly or annual pay-as-you-go subscriptions. The basic subscription includes 30 users. Subscriptions can be cancelled at any time.​

Protects data against insider threats and data leakage.

Safetica ONE is an on-prem solution and helps you to predict data leaks based on an analysis of user behavior. The solution can be integrated with your IT stack, and you can easily protect data in your enterprise environment. Safetica ONE protects all endpoints, devices, operating systems, cloud, perimeters, and internal zones.

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Gyncentrum protects patients' sensitive data with Safetica ​

Gyncentrum Clinic is one of the top fertility treatment facilities in Poland. Apart from medical activity, it also specializes in clinical research carried out for pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies, as well as training specialists from the fields of gynecology and nursery as an Accredited Training Centre. ​

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The challenge ​

Both the success and the effectiveness of Gyncentrum’s activities are highly dependent on the trust of its patients. That is why the protection of important data that they share with the clinic is such a high priority. In every case, these are very sensitive information concerning not only identities but also whole stories of couples entrusting their dreams of having a baby to the specialists at Gyncentrum. It is obvious then that finding the best solution for protecting that information was of utmost importance for the clinic. Compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) had been set as an essential minimum.


Safetica’s solution met all Gyncentrum’s requirements. Its deployment across three separate locations was quick and easy thanks to the central administration console. The ability to remotely manage Bitlocker is another useful functionality. It guarantees that even in case of a contingency, data stored at the clinic is protected.

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Our staff, both administrative and medical, has access to our patients’ sensitive data on a daily basis. These are personal and medical information, examination results and psychological evaluations. Thanks to Safetica, I can, as the person responsible for data protection in the clinic, decide who has access, how data is processed and whether it can be shared with third parties or not. Employees’ activities are reported, and patients’ data protected.​ ​
Paweł Czerwiński | Owner of Gyncentrum

who​ we are​

Safetica is a Czech software company that provides Data Loss Prevention and Insider Threat Protection solutions to organizations of all shapes and sizes. Here at Safetica, we believe everyone deserves to know that their data is safe.​


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