HIPAA Password Requirements: How to Create Strong Passwords and Stay Compliant

Healthcare is a high-value target for hackers. Having strong passwords can help to improve your first line of defense against impending threats.

HIPAA is designed to help improve security standards and reduce the risk of sensitive health information falling into the wrong hands.

Even though HIPAA seeks to protect health-related data, this umbrella is actually quite broad, and there’s a chance your business could be affected. For example, any healthcare-related businesses, health insurance providers, departments that provide their personnel with health coverage, and any associated vendors all fall under HIPAA regulations.

This is why security, including improving the strength of passwords, is something you should take seriously.

Below you’ll learn how to keep your business HIPAA complaint, along with the HIPAA password requirements, and how to implement them.

How to Keep Your Business Compliant

In order to achieve HIPAA compliance, there are a lot of factors you need to get right, especially in regards to privacy and security.

But, there’s an easy place to start—with your passwords. By creating and implementing secure password standards you’re heading in the right direction when it comes to HIPAA compliance.

Password requirements are a commonly overlooked aspect of achieving HIPAA compliance. However, strong passwords act as your first line of defense between sensitive personal data. Strong passwords, partnered with a robust security program, will help to secure any sensitive health information your storing.

By keeping health data safe and secure you’ll not only avoid any associated fines, but your customers will trust you over the long-term, knowing their health data is safe with you. Even a single breach can be difficult to recover from, don’t let your company succumb to this fate.

The HIPAA Password Requirements

HIPAA regulations are broken up into three different security standards, which help to ensure the protection of sensitive health data:

  1. Administrative: Processes and protocols to ensure security that includes employee access and training, and password requirements and management.
  2. Physical: The security of the actual physical location, like building locks, secure paperwork practices, and more.
  3. Technical: Safeguards that protect any electronic health information, like firewalls, anti-virus software, and encryption.

HIPAA password requirements fall under administrative regulations. However, the statement given within the HIPAA Security Rule is vague, and no strict guidelines are given.

This is most likely done on purpose, as HIPAA regulations need to be applied across a variety of cases. One of the best options is to adhere to the password guidelines put forth by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This organization provides security standards that adhere to current best practices.

By following these password guidelines you’ll help to ensure your business is in alignment with HIPAA password policy requirements.

The HIPAA Password Rules

Keep in mind that the password rules below should be used as guidelines. If you can make your passwords even more secure, then, by all means, create more strict password requirements.

Here are the HIPAA password rules your organization should implement:

  • Use a minimum of eight characters. This is the bare minimum, NIST even goes so far as to say your password can be up to 64 characters long.
  • Don’t use password hints. Password hints can easily be guessed, especially if they relate to your actual password.
  • Don’t keep a physical reminder of your password. Don’t keep any physical hints (or your actual password) written near your computer.
  • Don’t use commonly used passwords. Make your password as unique as possible, don’t use combinations like ‘12345678’, or ‘password.'

The HIPAA password policy requirements above will help to improve the strength of your existing passwords. But, if you have found a way to improve the strength of passwords across your organization even further, then implement that practice as well.

Ensuring That Your Passwords are HIPAA Compliant

The above HIPAA password rules will help to ensure your passwords are up to HIPAA standards. If you’re looking to further improve your security standards, then you can consider implementing two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication requires a unique PIN whenever a user tries to login to a server or other environments. This will help to confirm the identity of whoever is logging in. It does add an extra step to accessing data or performing tasks, but this small increase in time can greatly improve your overall security.

Once your passwords are up to HIPAA standards, then make sure the rest of your business practices are HIPAA compliant.

Beyond your own business practices, you need to ensure that any third-party providers or vendors you’re using are also HIPAA compliant. This includes services like your VoIP or business phone system provider.

Here at 8x8, our business phone solutions are entirely HIPAA compliant. You can rest easy knowing that our security standards are always up to the latest requirements.

When it comes to security, 8x8 provides reliable and compliant cloud solutions at a demanding level rarely seen by other cloud providers. Don't take your chances with a subpar cloud-based telecom system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out our form online to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 Product Specialist.

Learn more about how our systems can help you meet the HIPAA requirements.

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