Using Digital Forensics to Reduce Risks after a Healthcare Data Breach

The digital forensics that follow a healthcare data breach can be an important but sometimes a boring discussion topic.  It is one of those things that your health organization will outsource, a third party analysis is very important, so the organization often doesn’t have much direct influence or participation in the actual analysis of breached data.  What isn’t often discussed by BA’s and CE’s is how digital forensics after a HIPAA breach can reduce or limit the PHI that has been exposed and therefor reduce the breach response numbers – which is always a good thing.

Using a consistent approach to evaluate and quantify exposed PII / PHI and identify individuals will reduce costs and risks associated with a healthcare data breach.

1.  Build a profile of the source data.  Analysis of exposed PII / PHI begins with knowledge of the source data such as a single database or several thousand emails.  The more that is known, the better the efficiency in identifying exposed PII / PHI.

  • Characterize user habits.  In many cases, user-based patterns are present.  This includes the entry of notes into a database or the storage of files on a computer.  Understanding user habits facilitates in locating pockets of exposed PII / PHI to review and may eliminate other sources.
  • Look for similar populations of data.  Consider the case of a laptop that has Excel files, emails and x-ray images with embedded patient data.  Creating three separate populations for review improves the speed and accuracy of targeting and extracting PII / PHI.

You can read the complete article here:  Analytics May Reduce PHI Exposure Risk in a Healthcare Data Breach

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