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Steps To Ensure Software Patches for HIPAA Are In Place

Because of the strict rules and regulations put for HIPAA compliance, patch management has become a popular term for security and IT people. Before, many systems were never really updated and once installed and deployed, never really thought of again. But because of worms and other malicious code that targets vulnerabilities in unpatched systems, many now tuned into the importance of software patches to keep information safe. Patch management is a very critical issues these days, but the truth is that practical solutions aren’t always easy to come by. Managing all the updates for all the operating systems a company uses can be time consuming and complicated. But even though each organization might have different technology needs, there are basic requirements for all patch management programs and here are a few to ensure HIPAA compliance is in place:

1. Designate
In order to keep on top of all updates, your company should designate one individual or a point person (or team) to be in charge of keeping the patches up to date and to check if there are any security issues. This way not updates or security issues goes overlooked. Those responsible for this should also take lead in letting admins know when there are updates or security issues.

2. Relationships with vendors
Your organization should have a good relationship with your network device, operating system and application vendors that could ranger from weekly or monthly check-in calls to stay up to date on product security issues and patches.

3. Prioritize and schedule patches
You should always schedule and prioritize patches so that your system is always up to date with everything. You can run it quarterly, monthly or as it relates to your system.

4. Patch testing
The patch testing process should start with the software updates and then continues through acceptance testing after the new updates have been deployed. First you should verify the patch’s integrity and source to make sure it’s legit. Once it’s been determined to be valid, you ten place it in a test environment that will mirror production as much as possible. Once everything seems to be in place, you can now deploy it into your system. Don’t forget to do regular audits and assessments to help gauge the success of those patches.

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