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Glossary Terms

What is a Firewall?

What is a Firewall?

A firewall helps protect a network from security threats by monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic and blocking specific traffic based on a list of rules. Firewalls are considered the first line of defense in network security and have been in use for over 25 years. When used in tandem with other security measures, firewalls can help you maintain a trusted network that is HIPAA-compliant. 

Types of Firewalls

A firewall can be installed as hardware or software and can also be cloud-based. Different types of firewalls offer specific benefits. 

  • Proxy firewalls serve as a gateway between two networks. Proxy firewalls can add functionality, such as caching, and security by preventing direct connections from outside the network. 

  • Stateful inspection firewalls are considered "traditional" and either allow or block traffic based on state, port, and protocol parameters. These firewalls monitor all activity and filter traffic based on pre-set rules and context from previous connections. 

  • Unified threat management (UTM) firewalls combine the functions of a stateful inspection firewall with additional features like antivirus and intrusion prevention. UTMs are simple to set up and easy to use, and you can often manage them over the cloud. 

  • Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) help block modern threats like application-layer attacks and sophisticated malware. To be classified as an NGFW, a firewall must include intelligence-based access control, integrated intrusion prevention systems, application awareness, URL filtering, and techniques to address evolving threats, among other things

A few other types of firewalls have specific applications and deployments, such as virtual firewalls and cloud-native firewalls. 

What Is a HIPAA-Compliant Firewall?

Audit logs of PHI are required under HIPAA Security Rule 164.312(b). For a firewall to be HIPAA-compliant, it must be configured to log and track all data on your systems that interact with patient information. This will reveal potentially dangerous activity that may expose PHI or violate HIPAA in other ways. 

Healthcare providers should seek firewall providers that specifically offer HIPAA compliance. Your practice should also ensure compliance as follows:

  • Establish standard procedures for log generation

  • Designate an employee to review logs daily

  • Safeguard stored logs to avoid malicious or accidental alteration

  • Designate a team to investigate suspicious activity in the log

  • Evaluate the log collection process frequently and adjust as needed

How TempDev Can Help

TempDev's team of NextGen consultants, developers, and trainers support your needs whether you're looking to implement, switch, or upgrade your current EHR system. From dashboards and revenue cycle consulting to automation and workflow redesign, TempDev offers the tools you need to make the most of your NextGen EHR system, plus top tips and tricks to ensure your success now and in the future.

With TempDev's NextGen dashboardstemplates, and reports, you can better support your patients' needs. Our team is here to help you design, organize, and implement your system and offer guidance based on industry best practices

Get in touch or call us at 888.TEMP.DEV to get the help you need with firewalls.


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