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What is a HIT Security Firewall?

Understanding Concepts and Terms

By Dr. Richard J. Mata; MIS

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Firewalls are devices or systems that control the flow of health information network traffic between networks or between a host and a network. A firewall acts as a protective barrier because it is the single point through which communications pass. Internal information that is being sent can be forced to pass through a firewall as it leaves a network or host. Incoming data can enter only through the firewall.

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The Federal publication NIST Special Publication 800-41, Guidelines on Firewalls and Firewall Policy provides details of firewalls and firewall product selection that are beyond the scope of this post.

Implications Beyond Internet Connectivity

While firewalls and firewall environments are often discussed in the context of Internet connectivity, firewalls have applicability in network environments beyond Internet connectivity.

For example, many corporate healthcare enterprise intranets employ firewalls to restrict connectivity to and from internal networks servicing more sensitive functions, such as the accounting or personnel department. By employing firewalls to control connectivity to these areas, an organization can prevent unauthorized access to the respective systems and resources within the more sensitive areas. The inclusion of an internal firewall environment can therefore provide an additional layer of security that would not otherwise be available.

Imperfect Security

Although firewalls afford protection of certain resources within an organization, there are some threats that firewalls cannot protect against: connections that bypass the firewall, new threats that have not yet been identified, and viruses that have been injected into the internal network.

Assessment

It is important to remember these shortcomings because considerations will have to be made in addition to the firewall in order to counter these additional threats and provide a more comprehensive security solution.

Conclusion

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