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Ransomware is on the Rise, Recent Attacks

Ransomware is on the Rise, Recent Attacks | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Ransomware attacks are on the rise this year, crippling cities and organizations that unfortunately fall victim to hackers.

 

In short, ransomware is malicious software that locks and encrypts computer systems and data. Once a system is infected, hackers gain control and lock out users from their own networks.

 

Just like in a kidnapping scenario, a ransom is demanded. Thus the bad actors threaten to shut down the hacked organization's critical infrastructure, blocking the victims from accessing files. They can go as far as destroying the victims' network and databases. The motivator is simple - extortion for money.

 

While these incidents will continue to occur, the best way an organization can be proactive in mitigating cyber risk is having a strong cybersecurity posture and a well-informed staff on cyber hygiene best practices. It's often said among information security professionals, the weakest link is the human being. 

 

Many ransomware attacks are caused by phishing emails, which are messages infected with malicious links and/or documents. Typically, an individual in the organization mistakenly clicks on such a link or opens up an infected document, enabling hackers to enter the network. Then, well, all havoc breaks loose. 

 

Once hackers are inside the victims networks, they may lurk around for months before making themselves known. Why? They spend time looking for sensitive data to make sure they can lock up the organization's most valuable information.

 

Last year, security firm Emsisoft reported that 205,280 organizations claimed to have lost files because of ransomware attacks. And, from what's been reported, the number of incidents has gone up 41 percent from the previous year. It's safe to conclude that not all incidents are known or reported.

 

Demand for payment now runs on average of $84,116 and can costs can be in the millions, not including the consequential damages from business disruption. 

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, ransomware cybercrime will cost $20 billion in damages worldwide by 2021.

 

Hospitals, healthcare providers fighting hackers amid the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has become fertile breeding ground for cybercriminals to do their dirty work. With front-line healthcare providers overwhelmed treating COVID patients, threat actors are aggressively targeting healthcare professionals. 

 

In mid-May, the FBI and Homeland Security issued a warning that Chinese hackers were trying to steal coronavirus vaccination and treatment research information from businesses, healthcare providers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Interpol, Google and Microsoft also have concluded the shady activity as being aggressively on the rise. 

 

Since 2016, it is estimated that nearly 6.6 million patients were impacted by ransomware attacks. As healthcare providers networks went under attack,  patients' treatment and appointments ended up on hold and/or canceled. For some, the matter is life or death. And it's only gotten worse, as Interpol has stated. 

Celebrity law firm hit, breached, documents leaked

In May of this year, law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks which represents Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and other celebrities got hit with a $21 million ransom. The hacker group REvil allegedly have stolen 756 gigabytes of files, containing confidential information of the firm's famous clientele.

 

At the time of this writing, the New York-based law firm has refused to make a payment. So on May 14, the hackers leaked legal documents pertaining to Lady Gaga. 

 

A sizable amount, the 2.4-gigabyte documents include the entertainer's project contracts, confidentiality agreements and beyond. After doing so, the hackers doubled the ransom to $42 million.

 

A spokesperson on behalf of the law firm stated, "The leaking of our clients’ documents is a despicable and illegal attack by these foreign cyberterrorists who make their living attempting to extort high-profile U.S. companies, government entities, entertainers, politicians, and others. We have been informed by the experts and the FBI that negotiating with or paying ransom to terrorists is a violation of federal criminal law. Even when enormous ransoms have been paid, the criminals often leak the documents anyway.”

 

The group of cybercriminals are now threatening to leak documents of President Trump, which they claim to have in hand. “There’s an election race going on, and we found a ton of dirty laundry,” the hackers wrote in a response. “Mr. Trump, if you want to stay president, poke a sharp stick at the guys, otherwise you may forget this ambition forever.

 

This is a developing story, and it's been reported that President Trump is not connected to the Grubman law firm.

MSP hit hard, no entity is immune to threats

In mid-April, IT managed services provider, Cognizant, got hit with ransomware. The international company employs 300,000 employees and boasts nearly $15 billion in revenue.

"Cognizant can confirm that a security incident involving our internal systems, and causing service disruptions for some of our clients, is the result of a Maze ransomware attack," the juggernaut stated on its website. 

As the U.S.-based Cognizant continues to restore its networks, the company is facing a loss of $50 to $70 million in damages over the next three months. Additional associated monetary loss is anticipated. 

New Orleans, Chaos in The Big Easy 

In a high-profile municipality case, one of the most visited cities in the southern U.S. was victimized by hackers.

In response, the mayor of the City of New Orleans declared a state of emergency. The attack occurred on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 (perfect date for a nightmare, eh?), according to NOLA Ready. 

While a ransom was never paid, the eight months-long recovery efforts to restore the city's network resulted in a cool $7.2 million in damages.

Negotiating with Hackers

The common thread described in the aforementioned incidents is that cybercriminals are ruthless. No organization is immune to threats. There are ways of being proactive against threats by promoting a cybersecurity culture at your organization. Training staff on what a phishing email looks like and how to avoid being a victim.

Technical Dr. Inc.s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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What to Include in Your Incident Response Plan

What to Include in Your Incident Response Plan | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cybersecurity data breaches have almost become a way of life. We hear about businesses impacted by security incidents and data breaches every day. 

 

As the adage goes, it’s not “IF”, but rather “WHEN” a security incident will take place at your business. 

 

It is therefore a best practice for every business to create an incident response plan. An incident response plan delivers two cybersecurity benefits to your business:

 

  1. Systematic response to incidents which helps to minimize information loss or theft and service disruption.
  2. Use of the information gained from an incident to help prevent future threats by strengthening system protections and to be better prepared for handling future incidents.

 

A breach of your information is always stressful. Don’t compound that stress by not having a plan to address a successful cyberattack. 

 

Before creating an incident response plan, you must create an incident response policy.

 

Create an Incident Response Policy

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends in its Computer Security Incident Handling Guide that an organization should create a policy before building an incident response program.

This policy:

  • Defines which events will be considered incidents
  • Establishes the structure for incident response
  • Defines roles and responsibilities
  • Lists the requirements for reporting incidents

Develop your policy to include all applicable regulations and laws under which your business operates. Compliance requirements such as those associated with HIPAA and HITECH, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) will drive your policy requirements. 

The 4 Phases of the NIST Incident Response Lifecycle

Once the policy has been created, NIST outlines four broad phases an incident response plan should include.

NIST identifies four phases in an incident response lifecycle:

  1. Preparation
  2. Detection and Analysis
  3. Containment, Eradication, and Recovery
  4. Post-Event Activity

 

Each of the four phases includes a number of actions. Here’s an outline of what you can include in your organization’s incident response plan.

Preparation and Prevention

“Prevention” in the context of incident response is essentially your information security strategy and the software tools used to implement your strategy. It is your layered defense against cybercriminals -- firewalls, encryption, antivirus software, data backup, user training, etc. 

 

Part of being prepared is having a complete list of your information security tools (including any portions of your IT infrastructure managed by a third-party managed service provider). 

 

Effective response is based on communication. Smartphones are an excellent way to communicate with and coordinate team members while responding to an incident.

 

It may be a good idea to have some of the information below as hard copy or on devices not connected to an organization’s network (it will be difficult to coordinate a response if, for example, you are victimized by a ransomware attack and cannot access your plan):

  • Contact information for primary and backup contacts within your organization plus relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies that may need to be alerted
  • An incident reporting mechanism so users can report suspected incidents (phone numbers, email, online forms, or secure messaging systems)
  • Issue tracking system
  • Space to respond. Identify a permanent “war room” or temporary location where team members can centralize their response to the incident
  • Secure storage facility to keep evidence if needed

Detection and Analysis

Attacks can come from anywhere and take many forms - a denial of service attack, ransomware, email phishing, lost or stolen equipment (such as a laptop, smartphone, or authentication token), etc.

 

Once an incident is positively identified, follow defined processes to document the response (which can be helpful in showing a good faith effort to limit the impact of the breach on customer data should you end up in litigation or are investigated as the result of a breach).

 

Identify your affected networks, systems, and/or applications and determine the scope of the incident. From there, the response team can prioritize next steps from containment to further analysis of the incident. Recommendations for making analysis more effective include:

 

  • Profile networks and systems so changes are more readily detectable
  • Understand normal behavior so abnormal behavior is more easily spotted
  • Create a log retention policy
  • Perform event correlation
  • Keep all host clocks synchronized
  • Filter data to investigate the most suspicious data first
  • Run packet sniffers to collect additional data

 

These techniques should be used in conjunction with one another. Relying on a single method will be ineffective.

 

Document incidents as they are found. A logbook is one way to do so as are laptops, audio recordings, or a digital camera. 

 

Those affected by the incident need to be notified as well. For an incident that affects customers, a message on your website, email notification, or other communication will be needed. 

 

Often, breach notification procedures are driven by laws applicable to your industry, your state or your country, or a combination of these.

Containment, Eradication, and Recovery

Develop containment strategies for different incident types as containment for malware entering your network from an email will be different than for a network-based denial-of-service attack.

 

Document your strategies for incident containment so you can decide the appropriate strategy for the incident (e.g., shut down a system, disconnect it from the network, disable certain functions).

Once an incident is contained and all affected elements of the IT infrastructure have been identified the eradication and recovery process begins.

 

For larger systems, this could take months to move from high-priority to lower priority systems. Systems may be able to be restored from backup or may need to be rebuilt from scratch. As eradication and recovery proceed, steps can also be taken to tighten security measures. 

Post-Event Activity

Information security is an ongoing, iterative process. A key part of any incident response should be to learn from it:

  • Were the procedures followed? Were they effective?
  • Did we do anything that slowed the recovery process?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • Are there steps we can take to prevent a similar attack?
  • Were there indicators of the attack that we can use to prevent/detect a similar incident?
  • Do we need more resources to detect, analyze, and mitigate future events?

Apply what you learn to improve your cybersecurity defenses and response to the next incident.

Testing, Testing

Test your plan once per year. EIther working with an independent third-party or internally, create a scenario and walk your team through it.

 

This not only allows team members to understand their roles, but will also help you identify gaps or weaknesses in your plan. 

Technical Dr. Inc.s insight:
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Information Security Risk Management

Information Security Risk Management | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Information security risk management is a wide topic, with many notions, processes, and technologies that are often confused with each other.

 

Very often technical solutions (cybersecurity products) are presented as “risk management” solutions without process-related context.

 

Modern cybersecurity risk management is not possible without technical solutions, but these solutions alone, when not put in the context of correct risk management processes (and in the context of information-related processes) of an organization might not be enough to properly manage risks of information processing or might even cause a false sense of security.

 

In this new series of articles, I will explain some basic notions related to risk management, introduce and describe the phases of cyclic high-level process risk management, give more details on each of the phases and introduce the NIST and ISO standards related to risk management.

 

In this article, I will review the definition of risk, goals of risk management and list the main NIST and ISO standards related to information security risk management.

Cybersecurity risk management vs information security risk management

First of all, let’s discuss shortly the difference between “cybersecurity risk management” and “information security risk management”. Before “cybersecurity” became a buzzword, professionals dealing with information security used only “information security” and “IT security” notions.

 

Obviously “information security” is a wider term. It concerns the security of information, stored, processed or transmitted in any form (including paper). Information security also concerns people, processes, legal/regulatory matters and insurance. (Yes, insurance is also a way to reduce risk – by transferring it – and is thus a security measure.)

 

“IT security” is a term concerning “IT”, that is Information Technology. So it concerns information processed in IT systems. Sometimes these notions (“information security” and “IT security”) were used (and still are used!) interchangeably, but formally this is wrong because IT system is a part of information processing system.

 

“Cybersecurity” is a nice buzzword of recent years. Almost everything is “cyber” these days. Unfortunately this word has different meanings, depending on who uses it. The “cyber” part of this word suggests it concerns technology, so in my private opinion this word, “cybersecurity” is a younger brother of “IT security” (or, to be more precise, a younger clone  ). What is wrong with this word in my opinion is that it is often used to describe (or in) high-level documents like policies or process descriptions that have nothing to do with lower-level technology. But this is the trend we cannot change – the “cybersecurity everything” approach has been present in information/IT security world for some time already and it is doing very well. So we have to adapt and adjust.

 

But at the same time we have to be very careful when using the word “cybersecurity” (do we really mean what we are saying?) and also when reading it (what does this word really mean in the context of other information it is “served” with?).

The goal of information security risk management

The main goal of information security risk management is to continuously address the risks to information processed by an organization. These risks are to be addressed according to the organization’s risk management policy.

 

The information security risk management is a part of general risk management of an organization, so it should be aligned with general, high-level risk management policy.

 

The realization of the above-mentioned goal of information security is dependent on the following elements:

  • the information security risk management methodology;
  • the information security risk management policy and procedures;
  • the information security risk management process;
  • the information security risk management stakeholders.

I will be addressing all these in next articles in this series.

NIST and ISO standards

There are important (and practically applicable) NIST guidelines and ISO standards available on information security risk management.

The main high-level ISO standard on risk management is ISO 31000 (namely ISO 31000:2009: “Risk management — Principles and guidelines”; it is currently under review).

(It belongs to the same line of ISO standards as ISO 27000 line of standards, which I touched in my previous series of articles in Komunity.)

 

ISO 3100 introduces the risk management cycle that is applicable to (and should be used for) information security management, independent of risk analysis methodology used. I will use this cycle to introduce information security risk management process.

But before that, let me mention also other standards and guidelines on information security risk management:

  • ISO/IEC 27005: “Information technology — Security techniques — Information security risk management”;
  • NIST Special Publication 800-39: “Managing Information Security Risk: Organization, Missions and Information System View”;
  • NIST Special Publication 800-30 Rev 1: “Guide for Conducting Risk Assessments”.

I will come back to these standards after I describe the risk management cycle and its elements.

Risk definition

Let’s touch on another subject that is important and sometimes misunderstood – the notion of risk itself.

 

In common language, we often mix up all notions related to risk management: the risk itself, vulnerability, threat etc. We can’t do that if we want to run the risk management properly. It is not only the matter of notion mix-up. These notions are used in any risk analysis methodology and shouldn’t be mixed up, otherwise one will not be able to perform risk analysis correctly or understand and implement its results into the risk management process cycle.

 

ISO 31000 defines risk as “effect of uncertainty on objectives” (please remember that this standard is a high-level standard). This effect can be positive or negative, which means that in terms of this standard (and other risk-related standards, as you will see) risk is neutral. This, as can easily be seen, is not consistent with the common language, in which risk is almost always a negative notion.

 

I’ll come back to this definition and to the definitions o terms that are related to risk notion: vulnerability, threat etc.

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Information Risk Management Still Needs Improvement

Information Risk Management Still Needs Improvement | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cybersecurity threats and attacks across various business sectors are on the rise pressuring for organizations to continuously assess the risks to any information. While the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has garnered a lot of buzz in 2018, many standards and regulations in the United States also require cybersecurity.

 

But what are the technical details and operational steps needed to meet the high level guidance on cybersecurity risk? A recent Advisen survey revealed some interesting statistics:

 

  • 35% of respondents rated data integrity risks as “high risk” versus only 22% that of rated business continuity risks, or cyber related business interruption
  • Only 60% of the risk professionals surveyed said their executive management team viewed cyber risk as a significant threat to the organization, down 23% from the previous year.
  • Only 53% knew of any updates or changes even after the 2017 high profile attack

 

In short, these statistics paint a grim picture over the state of cybersecurity in the United States. While organizations are aware of the high risk of cyber attacks, management team involvement may be decreasing, and organizations may not be evolving their cybersecurity programs quickly enough.

 

Creating a Security First Risk Mitigation Posture
Many organizations have moved to a risk analysis security first compliance posture to enable stronger risk mitigation strategies and incorporate senior management oversight. However, identifying the potential risks to your environment only acts as the first step to understanding your overall risk. In order to identify all potential risks and engage in a full risk analysis that appropriately assesses the overall risk facing your data, you need to incorporate vendor risk as part of your risk management process.

 

That’s a lot of risk discussion, but you also have a lot of places in your overarching ecosystem that create vulnerabilities. Using a risk management process that establishes a security-first approach to your organization’s data environment and ecosystem means that you’re locking down potential weaknesses first and then backtracking to ensure you’ve aligned controls to standards and regulations. This approach, although it seems backward from a traditional compliance point-of-view, functions as a stronger risk mitigation program by continuously monitoring your data protection to stay ahead of hackers. Standards and regulations mean well, but as malicious attacks increasingly become sophisticated the best practices within these documents may be outdated in a single moment.

 

What is an Information Risk Management (IRM) Program?
An information risk management (IRM) program consists of aligning your information assets to a risk analysis, creating IRM policies that formalize the reasoning and decisions, and communicating these decisions with senior management and the Board of Directors. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) both provide guidance for establishing an IRM.

 

For example, the September 2017 NIST update to NIST 800-37 focuses on promoting information security by recognizing the need for organizational preparation as a key function in the risk mitigation process.

 

In fact, the core standards organization, ISO, updated its ISO 27005 in July 2018 to focus more on the information risk management process.

 

Specific to the United States, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) updated it enterprise risk management framework to minimize data threats while requiring organizations to detail potential risks and manage risks more proactively.

 

As risk analysis increasingly drives information security practices, you need to focus on a risk treatment program that begins with risk identification, establishes an acceptable level of risk, defines your risk treatment protocols, and create risk mitigation processes.

 

Create an Information Risk Management (IRM) Team
In order to appropriately manage risk, you need to create an IRM Team consisting of stakeholders across the organization. Relying solely on your IT department may leave gaps in the process. To determine the stakeholders, you should explore the departments integral to risk identification. For example, you might want to ask yourself:

 

  • What departments hire vendors?
  • What departments can help with the overall risk process?
  • What stakeholders are legally required (in the United States) to be informed of the risk process?
  • Who brings unique insights into the risks that affect my data environment and ecosystem?

 

For example, while your IT department sets the controls that protect your information, your human resources department handles a lot of sensitive data. You need to incorporate stakeholders who understand the data risks unique to their role in your organization so that they can work with your Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer. Additionally, many United States regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) require senior management and Board of Director oversight so they should also be included as part of your IRM team.

 

Begin with Business Processes and Objective
Many organizations forget that businesses processes and organizational business objectives should be the baseline for their risk analysis. Senior management needs to not only review the current business objectives but think about the future as part of the risk identification process. Some questions to ask might include:

 

  • What businesses processes are most important to our current business objectives?
  • Do we want to scale in the next 3-5 years?
  • What business processes do we need to meet those goals?

 

Understanding the current business objectives and future goals allows organizations to create stronger risk mitigation strategies. Many organizational goals rely on adding new vendors whose software-as-a-service products enable scalability. Therefore, you need to determine where you are as well as where you want to be so that you can protect the data that grows your organization and choose vendors who align with your acceptable level of risk.

 

Catalogue Your IT Assets
The next step in the risk analysis process requires you to look at all the places you transmit, store, or access data. This step often becomes overwhelming as you add more cloud storage locations that streamline employee workflows. Some questions to ask here might include:

 

  • What information is most critical to my business processes?
  • What servers do I store information on?
  • What networks does information travel over?
  • What devices are connected to my servers and networks?
  • What information, servers, networks, and devices are most essential to my targeted business processes?
  • What vendors do I use to management my data?

 

Review Your Potential Risks from User Access
Once you know what information you need to protect and where it resides, you need to review the users accessing it. Using multi-factor authentication and maintaining a “need to know” access protocol protects your information.

 

  • Who accesses critical information?
  • What vendors access your systems and networks?
  • Does each user have a unique ID?
    Can each user be traced to a specific device?
  • Are users granted the least authority necessary to do their jobs?
  • Do you have multi-factor authentication processes in place?
  • Do users have strong passwords?
  • Do you have access termination procedures in place?

 

These questions can help you manage risks to critical information because employees lack password hygiene or decide to use the information maliciously upon employment termination.

 

Establish An Acceptable Level of Risk
Once you’ve completed the risk identification process, You need to review what risks you want to accept, transfer, refuse, or mitigate. To determine the acceptable level of risk, you may want to ask some questions such as:

 

  • What is an acceptable level of external risk to my data environment?
  • What is an acceptable level of risk arising out of vendor access?
  • How do I communicate the acceptable level of risk to senior management?
  • How can I incorporate my acceptable level of risk in service level agreements (SLAs) with my vendors?
  • Can I quantify the acceptable level of risk I have assumed as part of my risk analysis?

 

Your information risk management (IRM) process needs to incorporate the full level of tolerances and strategies that protect your environment. In some cases, you may decide that a risk is unacceptable. For example, you may want to limit consultants from accessing your corporate networks and servers. In other instances, you may need to find ways to mitigate risks with controls such as password management or a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy.

 

Define the Controls That Manage Risk
Once you’ve set the risk tolerance, you need to define controls that manage that risk. This process is also called risk treatment. Your data ecosystem can leave you at risk for a variety of data breach scenarios, so you need to create information risk management (IRM) policies that outline your risk treatment decisions. In doing this, you need to question:

 

  • What firewall settings do I need??
  • What controls protect my networks and servers?
  • What data encryption protects information in transit across my networks and servers?
  • What encryption protects the devices that connect to my systems and networks?
  • What do I need to make sure that all vendor supplied passwords are change?
  • What protects my web applications from attacks?
  • What do I need from my vendors as part of my SLAs to ensure they maintain an acceptable level of security?

 

Defining your controls includes everything from establishing passwords to requiring anti-malware protection on devices that connect to your systems and networks. Creating a clearly defined risk treatment program enables a stronger security-first position since your IRM policies focus on protecting data proactively rather than reactively changing your security controls after a data event occurs.

 

Tracking the Risks With IRM Policies
Creating a holistic security-first approach to risk treatment and management means using IRM policies to help create a risk register. A risk register creates a tracking list that establishes a mechanism for responding to security threats. Your IRM policies, which should outline the entire risk management process, help establish the risk register by providing the list of risks monitored and a threat’s impact.

 

Although this process seems intuitive, the larger your environment and ecosystem, the more information you need to track. As you add vendors and business partners, you increase the risk register’s length making threat monitoring cumbersome.

 

How SecurityScorecard Enables the Information Risk Management Process
SecurityScorecard continuously monitors threats to your environment across ten factors: application security, DNS health, network security, patching cadence, endpoint security, IP reputation, web application security, cubit score, hacker chatter, leaked credentials, and social engineering.

 

Using these ten factors, organizations can streamline the risk management process. A primary hassle for those engaging in the risk management process lies in defining risks and establishing definitions for controls that mitigate overall risk. The ten factors remove the burden of identifying both risks to the environment and ecosystem as well as controls that mitigate risk. Moreover, you can use these same ten factors to quantify your risk monitoring and reaction, as well as the security of your vendors.

 

SecurityScorecard’s continuous monitoring tool can help alleviate bandwidth problems and help facilitate a cybersecurity program more in line with the sophisticated cyberthreat landscape.

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The HIPAA Security Rule and Vulnerability Scans

The HIPAA Security Rule and Vulnerability Scans | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Under the HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities must implement safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronically protected health information (ePHI).

 

ePHI is any protected health information that is created, stored, transmitted, or received in any electronic format. 

 

To this end, the HIPAA Security Rule requires covered entities to perform a security risk analysis (also known as security risk assessment), which the Security Rule defines as an “accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the covered entity or business associate.” Scans known as vulnerability scans may be performed to identify known vulnerabilities in applications, networks, and firewalls. 

What are Vulnerability Scans?

Vulnerabilities are weaknesses which, if triggered or exploited by a threat, create a risk of improper access to or disclosure of ePHI.

 

 Vulnerability scans are scans designed to identify vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that have the potential to cause a security incident. 


Under the HIPAA Security Rule, a security incident is defined as:

  • The attempted or successful unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction of information in an information system; or
  • The attempted or successful unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or interference with system operations in an information system. 

In plain English, a HIPAA security incident is an attempt (which can be successful or not) to do something unauthorized.

 

The “something” that is unauthorized, is an unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, destruction, or interference.

 

A HIPAA security incident may occur when:

  1. The unauthorized attempt to access, use, disclose, modify, destroy, or interfere, targets an organization’s information system.
  2. The unauthorized attempt is made to access, use, disclose, modify, or interfere with that information system’s system operations.

What are Examples of HIPAA Security Incidents?

Examples of a HIPAA security incident include:

  • Theft of passwords that are used to access electronic protected health information (ePHI).
  • Viruses, malware, or hacking attacks that interfere with the operations of information systems with ePHI.
  • Failure to terminate the account of a former employee that is then used by an unauthorized user to access information systems with ePHI.
  • Providing media with ePHI, such as a PC hard drive or laptop, to another user who is not authorized to access the ePHI prior to removing the ePHI stored on the media.

How Do Vulnerability Scans Identify Weaknesses?

HIPAA vulnerability scans to test for holes and flaws in information systems, and for incorrect system implementation and configuration.

Common flaws that can be revealed through a vulnerability scan include:

  • Flaws in software. Such flaws can be found in computer operating systems, such as Microsoft 7. Such flaws can also be found in software programs, such as Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer. 
  • Flaws in hardware. Vulnerability scans can reveal vulnerabilities that exist on hardware devices. Hardware devices include network firewalls, printers, or routers.  

If a vulnerability scan identifies a vulnerability, the vulnerability may be remediated if the software or network vendor at issue has released a security patch. Installation of the patch may eliminate the security weakness.  

 
 
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Why Cyber-Security Is Important For Your Dental Practice

Why Cyber-Security Is Important For Your Dental Practice | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

If you run a dental practice, keeping your computer systems secure at all times is essential.

 

Due to the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber-threats, it’s more important than ever to keep your computer systems secure. However, if you’re unsure how to protect your data, you certainly aren’t alone.

 

The data that you store on your computer systems contains highly sensitive information about your patients, which can make it a target of hackers.

 

Not only do these records contain important identifying information of your patients that could be targeted by identity thieves, but they also contain protected medical records that are protected by HIPAA.

 

PROTECTING YOUR DATA REQUIRES MORE THAN AN ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM

 

An effective antivirus program can play a major role in protecting your data and improving dental practice security, but it’s not the whole story.

 

You need to make sure that your employees are trained on how to avoid malware on the web, avoid falling prey to phishing, and are well-educated on the importance of cyber-security.

 

In addition, it’s essential to make sure that your employees are familiar with how to identify suspicious emails and ensure that they avoid clicking on links from an unknown sender.

 

WHAT CAN THREATS & ADVANCEMENTS BE EXPECTED IN THE FUTURE?

 

While cyber-security threats are likely to become more advanced as time goes on, health IT security systems are likely to advance as well, which means that there will be new ways to protect your computer system from hackers.

 

For instance, antivirus programs are becoming increasingly effective at detecting new forms of malware, and many antivirus programs now make it possible to flag websites that could be dangerous.

 

Using a certified EHR or Electronic Health Records system will help keep your patients’ information safe, certified EHRs are tested by the government to make sure it is of the highest security standards.

 

These programs are likely to become far more sophisticated, which is likely to thwart a large portion of cyber-attacks. Furthermore, IT technology is being increasingly utilized for a wide range of dental devices, such as dental cameras, CNC machines, and 3D printers used in the dental industry.

 

As a result, the list of dental devices that you’ll need to keep secure is likely to increase considerably in the future.

 

Luckily, you’ll have the opportunity to protect these smart devices with cyber-security technologies that are more advanced and effective than ever.

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Cybersecurity in the Spotlight 

Cybersecurity in the Spotlight  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Once again, cybersecurity issues will be in the spotlight at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference, to be held Feb. 11-15 in Orlando, Florida.

 

This year's event at the Orange County Convention Center promises 1,300-plus exhibitors, including more than 70 vendors in the show's dedicated Cybersecurity Command Center.

 

The conference is expected to draw more than 45,000 attendees and offer more than 300 educational sessions spanning 24 topics - including cybersecurity and privacy as well as related regulatory updates.

Cybersecurity sessions will be weaved in throughout the week, with many taking place at the Cybersecurity Command Center. But the topic will also get special treatment on Monday, Feb. 11. A Cybersecurity Forum that day geared to CISOs and other health IT security leaders is among a handful of pre-show workshops before HIMSS19 officially opens on Tuesday.

Cybersecurity Forum

The Cybersecurity Forum has several key learning objectives for its attendees, HIMSS says, including:

  • Explain the types and details of recent cyberthreats;
  • Discuss what's new, what's different, what to look out for, and the impact on administrative, clinical operations and patient safety;
  • Describe how organizations can work better and smarter to enhance their cybersecurity program, despite resource and financial constraints.

Featured speakers at the forum include Ron Mehring, CISO at Texas Health Resources; Kevin McDonald, director of clinical information security at Mayo Clinic; Jason Hawley, director of information services and security at Yuma District Hospital & Clinics; Mitch Parker, executive director, information security and compliance at Indiana University Health; and James Brady, CIO of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

Regulatory Updates

As usual, the HIMSS conference will provide opportunities to hear from government officialsabout the latest policy plans and other developments. Agencies to be featured include:

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, offering a session on Monday, Feb. 11, about its cybersecurity framework;
  • The Food and Drug Administration, which will describe its digital health software precertification program on Tuesday, Feb. 12;
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, which will be featured in a number of sessions, including a standards and technology update slated for Thursday, Feb. 14.

I predict one of the best attended government sessions will be the HIPAA enforcement and compliance update on Tuesday, Feb. 12, featuring Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Technology Spotlight

Among the emerging technologies to be spotlighted at the show is blockchain, which will be showcased at a four-hour forum on Wednesday, Feb 13, including a session about blockchain's privacy, security and compliance considerations in healthcare.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are buzzwords that are guaranteed to be used by many of the exhibitors showcasing their health IT gear. But ML and AI will also be discussed at a variety of educational sessions, including a special all-day pre-show forum.

 

Many of the sessions at that forum appear to be heavily focused on the application of ML and AI for clinical applications. But the use of AI and ML for securing health data will also be showcased in a separate session, "AI in Healthcare: Ethical and Legal Considerations", at the Cybersecurity Command Center .

 

As usual, I'll be at the conference attending sessions as well as meeting with numerous healthcare CISOs, government leaders and other privacy and security experts. I'll share their insights in audio interviews, articles and blogs, so be on the lookout for daily updates on our HIMSS19 news site.

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Top 3 Third Party Risk Management Challenges

Top 3 Third Party Risk Management Challenges | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Since the massive Target data security breach in December 2013, third party cyber security stopped being an afterthought and started becoming one of the top security priorities for CISOs and Risk Departments. As a response, Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) underwent a transformation in early 2014, and continues to reverberate today.

 

With attackers finding new ways to break into third parties in hopes of infecting a larger organization, the third party ecosystem is more susceptible than ever before. Meanwhile third party usage is growing fast in large organizations and enterprises. Many critical business services such as HR functions, data storage, and modes of communication are the responsibility of cloud-based third parties.

 

Without a modern TPRM program, many of these third parties are left behind in security risk management, putting organizations in a vulnerable position.

 

Over 60% of data breaches can be linked either directly or indirectly to a third party (per Soha Systems, 2016) but TPRM programs don’t often take a risk-first perspective when it comes to risk management. Security and Vendor Risk departments are often solely focused on compliance. That’s important, but doesn’t get at the heart of the risk posed by your third parties. To shift the approach of your TPRM program to measure true risk, you’ll need to make some adjustments in how you manage third parties.

 

Here are the three top TPRM challenges and the actions you and your organization can take in order to bolster your TPRM program.

 

1. Automate Your TPRM Process to Reduce Unmanaged Risk
With the rise in SaaS, businesses are now using cloud-based third parties more than ever. Gartner predicted that SaaS sales will nearly double by 2019, and that SaaS applications will make up 20% of the growth rate in all public cloud services, a $204B market. Last year, Forrester had already predicted that enterprise spend on software would reach $620B by the end of 2015.

 

As businesses engage in IT and infrastructure digital transformation, the need to manage vendors is more pronounced. Over 60% of respondents from a Ponemon Institute’s survey on Third Party Risk Management believe that the Internet of Things increases third party risk significantly. 68% believe the same is true for cloud migration.

 

However, as more third parties are brought in, they’re often not managed to match the level of cyber security risk they carry. Worse, they may not be managed at all due to a lack of resources. This creates unmanaged security risk. If these third parties have access to your network, your employees’ PII, or your customers’ sensitive data, shouldn’t they be subject to rigorous risk management assessments?

 

Unfortunately, as the number of third parties swell to the hundreds, it’s often not feasible for every vendor to be assessed in the same critical fashion. That’s why having an automated risk assessment tool for assessing vendors is a way to ensure you’re minimizing unmanaged risk from both new and existing vendors.

 

Automating your TPRM process is one of the major steps towards having a mature TPRM department capable. Its benefits include:

 

  • Improved third party management flexibility
  • Standardized processes and thirdparty management
  • Metrics and reporting consistency
  • Improved data-driven decision making
  • Further structuring the TPRM organization
  • Increased third party responsibility
  • Increased overall risk assessment and mitigation

 

By automating the TPRM process, you’re creating a standardized structure that can be applied to all third parties, whether existing or onboarded.

 

You can automate your TPRM process by finding new technologies or tools that will automate the assessment and information gathering process for your third party vendors. This helps to ensure that you’re optimizing your resources and spending company time on what is most impactful.

 

2. Augment and Validate Self-Reported Questionnaires Through Independent Risk-Based Assessments
Third parties are often assessed through questionnaires, onsite assessments, or via penetration tests. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Onsite risk assessments and penetration tests are resource-intensive, requiring time, money, and staff in order to carry out the assessments. Because of the costs, these kinds of assessments cannot be used for all third parties, and should be reserved for the most risk-critical third parties.

 

That leaves questionnaires to fill the void for most of the other third parties. However, questionnaires are self-reported, which makes using a ‘trust, but verify’ approach to risk management difficult to accomplish.

 

In a 2016 Deloitte Study on Third Party Risk Management, 93.5% of respondents expressed moderate to low levels of confidence in their risk management and monitoring mechanisms. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why TPRM programs need increased attention. Without a way to independently verify the security posture of your third parties, you can only rely on the word of your third parties who are, for obvious reasons, incentivized to report positively.

 

Organizations should find independent third parties that can provide risk-based assessments of their third parties to validate that the findings from questionnaires are a realistic portrait of the state of third party security.

 

There are a number of cyber security solutions that provide risk-first third party assessments. To find the right solution, you should research whether or not those solutions:

 

  • are accurately assessing third parties
  • can facilitate communication between you and third parties
  • are focusing on key cyber security areas that are indicative of a potential breach


3. Utilize Continuous Monitoring to Assess Third Parties Beyond Point-In-Time Assessments
The assessment methods mentioned in the previous section all have one glaring flaw in common – they assess third parties at a single point in time. Many times, the information gathered by security risk assessments is outdated by the time it falls into your hands. The speed at which hackers are developing new attacks and exploiting vulnerabilities is too fast for point-in-time assessments or annual reviews to provide any insight into the real security posture of a vendor.

 

A PWC Third Party Risk Management report on the finance industry noted that 58% of companies using ad hoc monitoring experienced a third party service disruption or data breach, compared to only 37% of those that regularly monitor their providers and partners. Without having a way to know the security posture of your third parties on-demand, you’re managing risk with a blindfold on for most of the year. By only having point-in-time information that is quickly outdated, your ability to react to new vulnerabilities, or worse, a potential third party cyber security incident, is negligible.

 

Through continuous monitoring, you’re bolstering the security of your third party by keeping them consistently accountable, which in turn, minimizes your overall risk to a potential security incident.

 

How to Get Started Revamping Your VRM
We covered how to implement continuous monitoring in your TPRM program in part 2 of our How to Revamp Your VRM Program article series. Start by establishing a central TPRM office if you don’t already have one, prioritize and identify your most risk-critical and business-critical vendors, and then define your third parties’ security controls and processes that you’ll monitor on an ongoing basis. If you have the resources, look for automated risk healthassessment tools and solutions that offer continuous monitoring for your third parties.

 

Conclusion
Updating your TPRM program doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your department. Instead, you should use a risk-first perspective to define the aspects that are the most criticalto update. The three we highlighted here will yield the most dramatic changes in a TPRM program, reducing your unmanaged risk, and reducing your reaction time should a security incident occur.

 

By automating aspects of your TPRM program, using independent third party assessments, and adopting continuous monitoring, you’re not far from having a mature TPRM program that can easily assess any new third party as it comes, keeping your organization safe.

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