A HIPAA message -- wireless devices

August 26, 2003

picture disc.HIPAA, the "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996," provides federal protection of patient health information. As part of our continuing efforts to educate employees, these HIPAA-related messages will be distributed the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Today's HIPAA message is on wireless devices.

Question:
Can I install a wireless access point in my office?

Answer:
Wireless access is the ability to access computer network resources without utilizing a computer that is physically connected to the network. When you buy a new computer device, it is possible that it will come with the capability to perform wireless access. In order to access the campus network, a device called a wireless access point must be installed within your work area.

Contact ITS if you plan to install wireless access in your office. Introducing access points into the network is like installing new doors or windows without locks on a building without ever telling the owner. Access points which have been set up without ITS involvement, may not be properly secured from the Internet and other potential rogue users. If not managed properly, they could be a direct violation of several of the HIPAA security regulations and pose significant risk to the integrity of the network system.

If you're a manager, please ensure all of your employees are informed of the contents of these messages and how it applies to your work area. Some ways of sharing the information include discussions during staff meetings, printing and posting this message or asking your employees if they have any further questions.