HIPAA Compliant RDP Server

A HIPAA compliant RDP server allows healthcare professionals to work remotely and still have access to the same information they could view and update if they were working at a practice or hospital.

Remote desktop access allows healthcare professionals to work efficiently from home and while travelling. Remote access to data is often required by development teams or business associates of HIPAA-covered entities. While remote desktop access offers many benefits, it also introduces risks, which must be identified and managed. Healthcare organizations may believe they have a HIPAA compliant RDP server, but a misconfiguration could easily open the door to hackers and put sensitive data at risk.

Prior to any remote desktop access being provided for use with ePHI, a covered entity must conduct a risk assessment to identify any vulnerabilities that could be exploited to gain access to ePHI. Those risks must then be managed and reduced to an acceptable level.

All Communications Must be Encrypted

Since there is a possibility of communications being intercepted, HIPAA requires the use of encryption, both for any ePHI transmitted and also for logins and passwords. All data must then be stored securely in a centrally managed location.

The easiest way of securing communications is to connect through a secure VPN. The encryption method used by the VPN must be of an appropriate standard to ensure compliance with HIPAA Rules. Current best practices require key lengths of 256 bits and a secure encryption algorithm such as AES.

The data transmitted through the VPN will only be as secure as the VPN itself. Vulnerabilities are often discovered with VPNs that must be addressed promptly. There have been many cases of hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in VPNs to gain access to healthcare networks. A HIPAA-covered entity must ensure their VPN software is kept up to date. Software upgrades and patches should be applied promptly and regular checks performed to ensure the latest version of the VPN is installed.

Authentication Controls Should Be Used to Prevent Unauthorized Access

The VPN is accessed via a local interface on the remote device. Authentication controls should be implemented to ensure only authorized individuals are able to access the interface. Each user must be assigned a unique login to ensure their activity can be tracked and two factor authentication should be used to verify identity.

Once logged in, a secure connection is established through the VPN to a centralized file management system on a HIPAA compliant RDP server where ePHI is stored securely. Stored data should be encrypted to NIST standards.

Additional security controls will help to ensure access to sensitive data cannot be gained by unauthorized individuals. Those controls should include a mechanism that prevents unlimited login attempts to block brute force attacks.

Users should also be logged out after a period of inactivity.  Even if a HIPAA-compliant RDP server is used and all communications are encrypted, if a device remains logged in when the user is not at the device, it would be easy for an unauthorized individual to gain access to ePHI.

Logins and Activity Must be Monitored

A HIPAA compliant RDP server needs to be constantly monitored and successful logins and failed logins must be logged. Those access logs need to be routinely checked and any suspicious activity investigated. Regulators are likely to require access to logs and will want to see evidence that access and access attempts are being regularly reviewed and actions promptly taken if a compromise is suspected.

There have been many instances where hackers have taken advantage of vulnerabilities in remote desktop software to gain access to sensitive data. If appropriate controls are not put in place by healthcare organizations, not only could it lead to a costly data breach, HIPAA regulators may issue severe financial penalties.

Consider Using a Third-Party HIPAA Compliant RDP Server Solution

HIPAA covered entities that require workers or business associates to access data remotely can easily violate HIPAA Rules by using Windows RDP, VPNs, and desktop sharing solutions, which may not meet all of the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule and can leave ePHI vulnerable.

To reduce the risk of a HIPAA violation when providing remote access to internal resources to employees and business associates, it is worthwhile considering using a HIPAA compliant remote access solution provider. There are several companies that offer HIPAA compliant RDP server solutions that can be used by healthcare organizations for providing remote access for employees and vendors.

These solutions standardize remote access, simplify management, improve security, and help to ensure compliance. HIPAA compliant RDP server providers have developed their solutions to meet all requirements of the HIPAA Rules with respect to platform and data security and provide clients with full visibility into remote access, reducing risk and saving them considerable time and money.

SecureLink HIPAA Compliant RDP Server

SecureLink has developed a remote access software solution that can be used by healthcare organizations to carefully control remote access to their applications, data, and internal resources. The solution allows healthcare providers to eliminate VPNs and shared desktop solutions, which lack security controls and are do not ensure compliance for 3rd party access. SecureLink is the only dedicated remote access platform that ensures compliance with the requirements of HIPAA and the HITECH Act.

SecureLink provides complete visibility into the remote access environment, allowing administrators to view exactly who is accessing their network, why they have connected, and their actions when connected down to the keystroke level, with videos recorded of user activity for investigations and audits.

The solution allows healthcare organizations to standardize remote access for vendors and provides highly granular control over access. Each user is assigned a unique ID that allows access to be tracked, including individual vendor users. Permissions can be easily set for specific resources and applications, including role-based, least-privilege access.

One instance of SecureLink can be installed to provide fast, highly available access for all technology vendors and remote workers. Administrators can also delegate authorizations to departments to allow them to manage their own vendors access, without having to involve the IT department, with self-registration for vendors also supported.

The solution also includes a built-in checklist that provides a numerical score to indicate whether the SecureLink server is correctly configured in accordance with security best practices, and also validates whether the server is configured to meet the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule.

The platform can also be used by technology vendors for ensuring fast, secure access to their healthcare clients’ systems, for managing their applications and for providing remote support, without having to wait for shared desktop hosts.