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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.

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Healthcare Organizations Mature their Cybersecurity Practices

Healthcare Organizations Mature their Cybersecurity Practices | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cyberattacks in the healthcare industry show no signs of abating. In 2018, digital criminals breached 15 million healthcare records. Alarmingly, in the first half of 2019 alone, 32 million healthcare records were compromised as a result of multiple security incidents.

 

Among those was the American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA) breach, an event which affected 24 million patient records when an unauthorized user accessed systems that contained sensitive information.

 

The breach ultimately led AMCA to file for bankruptcy, and it affected over 20 AMCA customers like Quest and LabCorp.

 

Despite the growth in cyberattacks in the healthcare industry, healthcare organizations continue to underinvest in cybersecurity. Compared to other industries like the financial industry, which invests 15% of revenue on cybersecurity initiatives, the healthcare industry invests only 4-7% of revenue.

 

Healthcare organizations under-invest in cybersecurity, even though the industry incurs the highest per capita cost of a breach. According to the IBM 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost per breached record in healthcare is $429.

 

Although the financial industry has the second-highest average cost per breached record at $210 per breached record, healthcare incurs more than double the cost than finance.

 

To mitigate breaches to confidential patient information, HIPAA was instituted to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of protected health information, so it came with attendant fines for non-compliance.

 

To improve their cybersecurity posture and avoid fines, many healthcare organizations have taken steps to ensure that they comply with HIPAA and that they pass the HIPAA audits.

 

Recognizing the need to improve their security posture, many mature healthcare organizations have adopted industry-standard frameworks like NIST and CIS. Also, many healthcare organizations recognize their need to achieve compliance with other regulatory standards like PCI and SOX.

 

Yet the spate of breaches in healthcare demonstrates that achieving compliance does not guarantee a secure environment, especially when healthcare organizations focus on passing audits at a point in time.

 

While healthcare organizations marshal resources to ensure they pass audits, the organization returns to business as usual, leading to a less secure posture over time.

 

As a result, mere compliance with security standards has had a limited impact on the security posture of healthcare organizations.

 

Achieving and maintaining compliance with these various, complex, ever-changing standards and regulations can be burdensome for healthcare organizations.

 

This challenge is only exacerbated by the technical skills gap. Organizations, especially healthcare organizations, continue to be challenged with hiring, retaining and training cybersecurity professionals. Recent statistics show that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally by 2021.

 

The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) was introduced to ameliorate the challenges healthcare organizations face in trying to achieve compliance with the various, complex and evolving standards and frameworks.

 

HITRUST CSF incorporates existing standards and regulatory policies like HIPAA, PCI, NIST, ISO into an overarching comprehensive framework that remains sufficiently prescriptive in how control requirements can be scaled and tailored for healthcare organizations of varying types and sizes.

 

However, attempting to attest to the HITRUST CSF using manual methods negates the benefits of the HITRUST CSF, as this greatly increases the chances of error.

 

In addition to the extra time and effort that is required to track compliance manually, which is only compounded around audit time, information that is manually collated into a report is hard for an auditor to verify.

 

As a result, Tripwire partnered with HITRUST to help healthcare organizations automate HITRUST CSF compliance. Tripwire is one of only two cybersecurity providers to have partnered with HITRUST for the automated reinforcement of CSF compliance.

 

Tripwire has the industry’s largest platform and policy coverage, including legacy systems.

 

It has a proven track record of helping organizations achieve and maintain compliance with HIPAA, PCI and SOX as well as adhere to security frameworks like NIST and CIS.

 

Now, Tripwire can help organizations automatically achieve and maintain compliance with HITRUST CSF as well as prove compliance with out-of-box, HITRUST-certified reports. This helps them:

  • Quickly achieve and maintain compliance, including audit-ready proof of compliance
  • Accurately align with the HITRUST CSF with Tripwire’s HITRUST-certified mapping
  • Keep up with new HITRUST CSF versions while strengthening your cybersecurity posture
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Challenges and methods for securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS)

Challenges and methods for securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Medical data is a valuable commodity for identity theft. Despite HIPAA privacy rules being in effect for more than two decades, millions of health records, including images, have been stored on unsecured servers by healthcare provider officers across the United States. 

 

A ProPublica investigation revealed that 187 servers in the U.S. with medical records such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, for instance, are findable with a simple online search. One imaging system had open internet access to patients’ echocardiograms, which were minimally secured. 

 

While securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) can be challenging, in part, because of the need for multiple providers to access the same data, the images stored in PACS are Protected Health Information (PHI) and must be kept private in accordance to HIPAA rules. 

 

To address this issue, in September 2019 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released new draft guidelines to secure PACS, Special Publication 1800-24C - Securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS). 

The Challenges of Securing PACS

Over the past decade, healthcare images have shifted from hard copy to mostly digital. These digital images are easier to share, speeding up the diagnosis time.

 

Of course, the fact that healthcare images can now be uploaded, shared on personal mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and stored digitally, also makes them a target for cybercriminals. 

 

PACS also interact with multiple other systems: electronic health records, regulatory registries hospital information systems, and even government, academic, and commercial archives. This creates plenty of potential security gaps for cybercriminals to lurk and steal this data. 

 

Here are the most common challenges in securing PACS:

  • Monitoring and controlling internal user accounts and identifying outliers in behavior (e.g., large number of downloads in a small period of time)
  • Controlling and monitoring access by external users
  • Enforcing least privilege and separation-of-duties policies for internal and external users
  • Ensuring data integrity of the images
  • Securing and monitoring connections to the system
  • Securing and monitoring connections to and from systems outside of the in-house system
  • Providing security, data protection, and access management without affecting productivity and system performance

 

As you can see, these are common cybersecurity challenges. The draft PACS security guidelines are adapted from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. While the challenge of securing medical images is real, this is a framework that any HIPAA-covered entity can use to help secure their PACS.

A Security Architecture for PACS

Using commercially available products, NIST created a reference network architecture. It provides an example for healthcare providers to separate their networks into zones to decrease cross-network access and, thus, risk. 

 

The NIST SP 1800-24C guidelines are just that: guidelines. Information technology professionals need to adapt the architecture and framework guidance to their particular organization’s IT stack and security goals. 

 

To mitigate risks, the NIST practice guide’s reference architecture includes technical and process controls to implement. They are:

  • A defense-in-depth solution, including network zoning that allows for more granular control of network traffic flows and limits communications capabilities to the minimum necessary to support business function
  • Access control mechanisms that include multi-factor authentication for care providers, certificate-based authentication for imaging devices and clinical systems, and mechanisms that limit vendor remote support to medical imaging components  
  • A holistic risk management approach that includes medical device asset management, augmenting enterprise security controls and leveraging behavioral analytic tools for near real-time threat and vulnerability management in conjunction with managed security solution providers

 

NIST Cybersecurity Guidance also recommends a thorough cybersecurity risk assessment to identify areas of weakness and to help determine how to optimize your network for cybersecurity.

 

Recommended capabilities for a secure PACS environment include:

  • Role-based access control
  • Authentication
  • Network access control
  • Endpoint protection
  • Network and communication protection
  • Micro-segmentation
  • Behavioral analytics
  • Tools that use cyber threat intelligence
  • Anti-malware
  • Data security
  • Segregation of duties
  • Restoration and recoverability
  • Cloud storage

The Importance of User Training

While not included in this particular NIST publication, it is always good to remember that user training is critical to the success of any cybersecurity initiative. Many Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) images are shared via mobile devices. 

 

Password protections are also important, as is understanding HIPAA compliance involving social media and basic HIPAA security procedures.

 

PACS do enable better patient outcomes, but they are a potential target for cybercriminals. Following the guidance from NIST, healthcare organizations can help ensure the continued privacy of their patients’ protected health information. 

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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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HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosures

HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosures | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosures

The HIPAA Privacy Rule dictates how a healthcare provider may share protected information, or PHI in the workers compensation context.

 

PHI disclosures to the employer and the workers compensation board must be HIPAA compliant. HIPAA workers compensation requirements are discussed below.

What is Workers Compensation?

Many employers are required, under state law, to purchase and maintain a workers compensation insurance policy (or to self-insure). When an employee sustains an injury or illness arising out of and in the scope of his or her employment, the employee may file a claim for benefits under that policy.

 

State workers compensation laws are a specific kind of “no-fault” law. That is, an employee who sustains an injury or illness is generally entitled to benefits even if the employee’s injuries were brought about by his or her own negligence. Whether an employee is or is not entitled to benefits is generally not determined by whose “fault” the injury was.

 

To demonstrate entitlement to benefits and reimbursement for healthcare provider treatment costs, employees are required, through their providers, to submit medical information to their employers, and to the state workers’ compensation board. 

What Must a Covered Entity Do for HIPAA Workers Compensation Disclosure Requirements?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows covered entities to disclose protected health information to workers’ compensation insurers, state administrators, employers, and other persons or entities involved in workers’ compensation systems, without the individual’s authorization, when:

  • The PHI disclosure is authorized by, and is necessary to comply with:
    • State workers compensation laws; or
    • Similar “no-fault” programs established by law that provide benefits for job-related injuries or illness.
    • The PHI disclosure is required for purposes of obtaining payment for healthcare provided to the injured or ill worker.

In both instances, the “minimum necessary standard” applies. The PHI disclosure, under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, must be reasonably limited to the minimum information necessary to accomplish the HIPAA workers compensation purpose.

 

This means that the medical information that is disclosed must be relevant to the specific injury. Medical information having no relationship to the injury or to payment should not be disclosed.

What is HIPAA Compliant Reasonable Reliance?

When PHI is requested by a state workers’ compensation or other public official, the covered entity may reasonably rely on the state official’s representation that the requested PHI is the minimum necessary for the specific workers’ compensation purpose. 

 

In such circumstances, the covered entity is not required to make a minimum necessary determination when disclosing protected health information as required by state law. The provider will generally be deemed HIPAA compliant under such circumstances.

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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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U.S. states say Anthem too slow to inform customers of breach

U.S. states say Anthem too slow to inform customers of breach | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Ten U.S. states have sent a letter to Anthem Inc complaining that the company has been too slow in notifying consumers that they were victims of a massive data breach disclosed last week.

"The delay in notifying those impacted is unreasonable and is causing unnecessary added worry to an already concerned population of Anthem customers," said the letter, which was sent on Tuesday by Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen on behalf of Connecticut and nine other states.

The letter asked the No. 2 U.S. health insurer to compensate any consumers who are victims of scams, if the fraud occurs before Anthem notifies them of the breach and offers them free credit monitoring.

"Anthem must commit to reimbursing consumers for any losses associated with this breach during the time period between the breach and the date that the company provides access

to credit and identity theft safeguards," said the letter.

Jepsen also asked Anthem to contact his office by Wednesday afternoon with details of its plans to "provide adequate protections" to consumers whose data was exposed in this breach.

The letter was written on behalf of Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Representatives with Anthem could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anthem disclosed the massive breach last week, saying that hackers accessed a database of some 80 million consumers and employees that contained Social Security numbers and other sensitive data.

On Friday the company warned U.S. customers about an email scam targeting former and current members.


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