What is HIPAA Compliance?

Confused about HIPAA and HIPAA compliance? This article will explain HIPAA and the importance of complying with this complex federal law.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The HITECH Act, which was signed by President Obama in 2009, updated HIPAA by outlining rules and penalties regarding breaches of private health information (PHI).

Among other provisions, HIPAA mandates that security measures be taken to protect PHI. HIPAA is split into five sections, or titles. HIPAA Title II, which is known as the Administrative Simplification provisions, is what most information technology (IT) professionals are referring to when they speak of “HIPAA compliance.”

HIPAA Compliance? If your organization is not HIPAA compliant, and a breach of PHI occurs, the penalties can be severe, as can be the public relations fallout for your organization.

Who must be HIPAA compliant? Does this only apply to doctors’ offices and hospitals?

HIPAA rules apply to two groups of organizations, known as “covered entities” and “business associates.”

A “covered entity” is one of the following:

  • A healthcare provider, such as a doctor’s office, pharmacy, nursing home, hospital or clinic that transmits “information in an electronic form in connection with a transaction for which HHS has adopted a standard.”
  • A health plan, such as a private-sector health insurer, a government health program such as Medicaid, Medicare, or Tricare, a company health plan, or an HMO.
  • A “healthcare clearinghouse,” which is an entity that processes health information received from another entity, such as a billing service or a community health information system.

A “business associate” is a person or an organization that performs tasks that involve the use or disclosure of PHI, such as:

  • Laboratory facilities
  • CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals with clients in the healthcare industry
  • Medical billing and coding services
  • IT providers, such as cloud hosting services and data centers, that are doing business in the healthcare industry
  • Subcontractors and the business associates of business associates must also comply with HIPAA rules.

What does HIPAA compliance entail?

The Administrative Simplification provisions in HIPAA Title II are split into five rules, including the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect PHI. It applies to all forms of records – electronic, oral, and written – and requires employers to implement PHI security procedures and ensure that all employees are trained on them. The HIPAA Security Rule applies to electronic protected health information (ePHI). It establishes national standards to protect ePHI and requires entities to implement administrative, physical, and technical safeguards of ePHI.

What happens if I’m not HIPAA compliant and a data breach occurs?

If your organization is not HIPAA compliant, and a breach of PHI occurs, the penalties can be severe, as can be the public relations fallout for your organization. You will be required to notify all affected patients of the breach, and this publicity could do irreparable damage to your organization’s reputation. Your organization could also face fines in excess of $1 million – and, in some cases, even criminal penalties.

Not sure where to start with HIPPA Compliance?  We created a free HIPAA Awareness & Compliance Survey that helps to determine your office’s degree of HIPAA compliance and awareness.

What can I do to ensure that my organization is HIPAA compliant?

Continuum GRC believes that the best defense against a PHI breach is a good offense – and HIPAA requires that covered entities and business associates take a proactive approach to protecting patient data. In light of the financial penalties and potential PR nightmare associated with breaches of sensitive personal medical information, HIPAA compliance is serious business.

HIPAA is a voluminous, complex law, and many organizations are baffled regarding where to begin with their HIPAA compliance. Thankfully, the HIPAA compliance experts at Continuum GRC are here to help. We offer comprehensive HIPPA compliance software that includes HIPAA Audit, HITECH, NIST 800-66 and Meaningful Use Audit services to help you evaluate your existing HIPAA protocols and establish new ones. Continuum GRC’s proprietary IT Audit Machine (ITAM IT audit software), which is fully HIPAA compliant; it helps eliminate 96% of cybercrime and nearly 100% of the headaches associated with compliance audits.

Continuum GRC offers full-service and in-house risk assessment and risk management subscriptions helping companies all around the world sustain a proactive cyber security program. Continuum GRC is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-6207 to discuss your organization’s cyber security needs and find out how we can help you with HIPAA Compliance.

Schedule some time with our HIPPA Compliance Superheroes!

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Human Hacking, Not Automated Attacks, Top Cyber Threat

Human hacking, also known as social engineering, has surpassed hardware and software vulnerabilities and is now the top cybersecurity threat, Computer Weekly reports:

Human hacking, also known as social engineering, has surpassed hardware and software vulnerabilities and is now the top cybersecurity threat.

[A]ttackers shifted away from automated exploits in 2015. Instead, attackers engaged people through email, social media and mobile apps to do the dirty work of infecting systems, stealing credentials and transferring funds.

 Researchers found that machine exploits were replaced by human exploitation, with attackers opting for attachment-based social engineering campaigns rather than purchasing expensive technical exploit kits.

 Across attacks of all sizes, threat actors used social engineering to trick people into doing things that once depended on malicious code.

What is Human Hacking?

Human hacking is a type of con during which, instead of trying to hack into a system, the hacker engages in old-fashioned espionage techniques that involve human interaction and prey on weaknesses in human psychology, such as helpfulness, curiosity—even greed. A human hacker may approach an access-controlled door carrying a number of packages and pretend to fumble for their key or access card; an unsuspecting employee, thinking they are being helpful to a co-worker, opens the door for the hacker. This technique is known in the industry as tailgaiting. Or, using the pretexting technique, the hacker may phone an employee, pose as a help desk worker, and attempt to get the employee to provide their system access credentials.

These simple techniques are surprisingly effective. TechTarget reports that a human hacker recently used pretexting to compromise the U.S. Department of Justice. The hacker phoned the DOJ, pretending to be a new employee who was having difficulty accessing the department’s web portal. The hacker was quickly provided with a token that granted him full access to the DOJ intranet. As a result, information on 20,000 FBI agents and 9,000 Department of Homeland Security employees was publicly leaked.

Other common human hacking techniques include:

  • Baiting takes advantage of human curiosity—or, in some cases, greed. The attacker puts a legitimate-looking and interesting label (such as “Employee Salary Report Q4”) on a malware-infected device, such as a USB drive, then leaves it in a place where someone will find it, such as a bathroom, a hallway, or an elevator. Then, the hacker simply waits for someone to pick up the device and insert it into their computer.
  • Phishing is a technique most Internet users have seen in action. The hacker (or phisher) sends an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, usually a bank or another business. The email requests that the receiver “verify” information by clicking on a link and warns of dire consequences, such as their account being deactivated, if the receiver does not do so. The link leads to a legitimate-looking but fraudulent website that requests personal information, such as online banking access credentials or even a debit card PIN.
  • Spear phishing is a more targeted form of phishing where a particular individual or organization is phished, as opposed to random mass attacks.
  • A Scareware scheme combines malware and human psychology. The con involves tricking victims into believing they have downloaded illegal content or that their computers have been infected with malware. The human hacker then offers the victim a “fix” in the form of a download – which is actually malware.

How Can Your Organization Prevent Human Hacking?

As with all cyber security issues, the best defense is a good offense. Continuum GRC recommends that organizations take a proactive approach to preventing human hacking, beginning with establishing a comprehensive cyber security policy and employee training program. If employees are aware of the types of cons human hackers run, they can learn to identify and report them before any damage is done. Continuum GRC offers the fastest ticket to policy and governance readiness in the business.

Additionally, organizations that conduct ongoing risk assessments and fix the gaps identified are on average a whopping 96% less likely to suffer a breach by hackers. Continuum GRC recommends organizations of any size implement a risk management program sooner than later when it may be too late.

Continuum GRC offers full-service and in-house risk assessment and risk management subscriptions helping companies all around the world sustain a proactive cyber security program. Continuum GRC is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-6207 to discuss your organization’s cyber security needs and find out how we can help you prevent human hacking.

Hooray for Hollywood! – Hackers Hold Healthcare Hostage

Hackers Hold Hollywood Healthcare Hostage

Hooray for Hollywood! – Hackers Hold Healthcare Hostage with ransomware.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin to hackers who seized control of the hospital’s computer systems holding them a healthcare hostage. The cyber assault on Hollywood Presbyterian occurred Feb. 5, 2016, when hackers using malware infected the institution’s computers, preventing hospital staff from being able to communicate from those devices.

In 2015 the most cyber crime bloodletting occurred in healthcare and 2016 is already trending to the same trajectory. Cyber security providers out there offer Band-aid solutions but what the healthcare industry needs is a cure. Continuum GRC has the solution that can inoculate your organization against these threats, preventing hackers from holding your patients and your business a healthcare hostage.

2016 data breach trends.

What could Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have done differently to have avoided being a victim to hackers? For starters, they could have taken a proactive approach and identified where their risks were, but instead they took a reactive approach, and now their business has been damaged. The cyber security experts at Continuum GRC know that when you take a proactive approach to security, compliance, audit and governance, you eliminate the potential for sending your business to the emergency room or worse yet, the morgue!

The following steps are proven to help:

  1. Conduct a systematic standards-based risk assessment of your organization
  2. Complete an internal controls assessment using industry frameworks to guide you through the process
  3. Proactively review all threat vectors eliminating them before criminals exploit them

Sound daunting? We know it is and that is why Continuum GRC takes the guesswork and complexity out of the assessment and certification process. Subscribe to the best tools that are guaranteed to help you avoid becoming a victim to hackers.

Check this out for yourself by contacting us at 1-888-896-6207 or just sign-up for a free trial.