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Posts Tagged with "HIPAA"

FBI Issues Warning on FTP Servers

FBI warning for FTPThe FBI recently issued a Private Industry Notification to healthcare providers warning them of the dangers of unsecured FTP servers. According to the alert, the FBI is aware of criminal actors actively targeting FTP servers operating in “anonymous” mode, meaning a user can authenticate to the FTP server with a common username like “anonymous” or with a generic email address or password. The FBI notification cited a 2015 study from the University of Michigan that indicated over one million FTP servers were configured to allow anonymous access.

While the notification was intended for medical and dental facilities, inadequate FTP security is a concern across all industries. According to the FBI, “Any misconfigured or unsecured server operating on a business network on which sensitive data is stored or processed exposes the business to data theft and compromise by cyber criminals.”

The problems with FTP servers go beyond anonymous mode. For one thing, many organizations are running legacy FTP software that hasn’t been kept up-to-date with modern security concerns. Another widespread issue comes from granting excess permissions to trading partners or internal staff. Anyone given administrative access could change a setting on the server without realizing the potential security implications.

Hopefully it’s clear that you should be using encryption to protect your data. What some businesses fail to realize is that encryption methods vary greatly in strength based on factors like  key size and type of encryption ciphers used. Many of the older ciphers and protocols have been broken and are now obsolete. Finally, a major problem with legacy FTP servers is a lack of alerts if anything goes wrong and the lack of detailed logs to help you maintain compliance with industry regulations.

These common pitfalls can be addressed with a robust managed file transfer (MFT) solution. Managed file transfer offers a variety of strong, up-to-date protocols and encryption methods, allowing you to replace standard FTP with something more secure like SFTP or FTPS. Software with role-based security gives you the option to limit any user or user group to just the permissions they absolutely need, and detailed audit logs keep track of exactly which user took what action and when—essential information for your team and for auditors alike.

To learn more about how to secure an FTP server, watch the on-demand webinar, Top 10 Tips for Securing Your FTP or SFTP Server.

 


Get the Guide: Achieving HIPAA Compliance with GoAnywhere MFT


Are your file transfers HIPAA compliant? Is your healthcare organization at risk for fines, or worse - a data breach of sensitive patient information? Many health IT teams meet these questions with unease.

Fortunately, GoAnywhere is here to help.

HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) protects the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic health information. For any IT professional working in the healthcare industry—or for a company that does business with healthcare organizations—HIPAA is a concern. Compliance is strictly enforced, with penalties including substantial fines and, in rare cases, even prison sentences.

HIPAA is dedicated to protecting patient health information, but cybersecurity is only a portion of what the law covers and HIPAA’s security standards were not written for an IT audience. Avoiding specific technical language means the law changes with the times and allows organizations to adopt new technologies that help them meet HIPAA requirements. This approach provides flexibility, but it also makes HIPAA compliance challenging—IT professionals have to translate HIPAA into IT terms to determine what steps they need to take to become compliant.

Patient care involves constantly exchanging and updating electronic records, making file transfers a potential area of security vulnerability. GoAnywhere MFT protects valuable personal data while simplifying HIPAA compliance.

We’ve put together a guide that demonstrates how GoAnywhere MFT addresses several key HIPAA requirements. For example, GoAnywhere prevents unauthorized access by authenticating users and passwords with a variety of techniques including database authentication, LDAP, and Active Directory. Audit trails are generated to document if unauthorized attempts are made to alter or delete documents.

 

Download the guide to learn more about how GoAnywhere makes HIPAA compliance easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Why Healthcare Organizations Need a Managed File Transfer Solution

Anmed health clinic

 

Last year was a scary year in healthcare cybersecurity. A hack of Banner Health breached up to 3.7 million records. Another data breach at 21st Century Oncology resulted in multiple lawsuits being filed against the organization. When a third party gained unauthorized access to computer systems at Valley Anesthesiology and Pain Consultants, almost 900 thousand patients, employees, and providers had to be notified. These are just a few examples of the biggest incidents in the news—smaller security failures are happening all the time.

Patient records are extremely sensitive, so healthcare organizations have to be especially vigilant about securing their data. Additionally, they need to be able to prove compliance with HIPAA. In an industry that involves constantly moving and updating patient records, maintaining security and compliance requires a robust method of protecting any transfer of data. That’s why no healthcare cybersecurity strategy is complete without a managed file transfer (MFT) solution.

Why Not Use a Basic File Transfer Tool?

Many EHR or network monitoring software already implemented within a healthcare organization include some secure file transfer capabilities, so it’s easy for IT professionals to ask: “Why not just stick with the basics?” While some of the add-on file transfer tools may protect sensitive data in transit, there are several crucial features that a complete managed file transfer solution can perform.

Supports varied platforms, protocols and encryptions: A good managed file transfer platform will support a variety of protocols, such as SFTP, FTPS, and HTTPS, and encryption standards like AES and Open PGP. It may be necessary to select different methods for each transfer based on your partner’s requirements.

Centralized system for organized monitoring and reporting: For many healthcare organizations, regular monitoring and reporting of file transfers is a requirement for compliance adherence. The ideal MFT solution provides a single tool capable of handling all your transfers out of one area, whether that be server-to-server batch file transfers, user-to-user ad-hoc file transfers and person-to-person file collaboration. A centralized area simplifies the ability to monitor and report all transfer activity.

Controls user access: HIPAA requires that organizations prevent unauthorized access to files. Of course, this can mean hackers with malicious intent, but you should also have protocols in place to protect data from internal actors. A 2015 study found that internal actors were responsible for 43% of data loss. That includes both intentional and accidental security failures.

MFT software with role-based security options can limit each user to the servers and the functions of managed file transfer that they absolutely need to use. Individual files and folders can be restricted to certain users or user groups. Since every user has a unique user ID, all their activity can be tracked—essential if you face an audit.

Facilitates HIPAA compliance: Modern IT environments and the volume of electronic records stored by healthcare organizations are far larger and more complex than what existed HIPAA was first enacted. Although many organizations got by with FTP-based tools or custom scripts in the past, the best way to meet HIPAA requirements today is with an easy-to-use, comprehensive managed file transfer platform.

In addition to providing the required security protocols and encryption, a good MFT tool will generate detailed audit trails and reporting of every file transfer, identifying the users, the recipients, and the file names transmitted. Just what an auditor needs to see.

Simplifies and automates transfers: Configuring each file transfer in a way that is secure, compliant, and meets the individual needs of each business partner is extremely time consuming. Too many manual steps in the transfer process can make a high volume of file transfers impossible to manage, not to mention error-prone. The automation capabilities of managed file transfer software can streamline data transfer processes and reduce the potential for mistakes.

Case in Point: 
AnMed Health Saves 500+ Hours of Manpower Each Month

Anmed health clinicWhen health system AnMed Health made the decision to replace outdated file transfer systems with GoAnywere MFT, their new ability to support SFTP and PGP encryption increased the number of vendors AnMed could perform simplified, and secured transfers with.

But that wasn’t the only benefit. Using managed file transfer eliminated the need for third-shift data center staffing and saved programming, operations, and network staff over 500 hours a month. How much money do you estimate that 500 hours a month could save your healthcare organization?

Another useful improvement was automatic notifications and greater visibility into the status of file transfers. Previously, the AnMed Health team often only found out about a problem when they received a call from a vendor.  A robust MFT solution will alert you if something goes wrong, allowing you to attack the issue without delay.

Ready to see for yourself? Schedule a demo of GoAnywhere MFT to see how easily your file transfer process can be secured, automated and centralized.


Sign Up for the FREE Secure File Transfer Webinar Series

Linoma Software is hosting a FREE October Webinar Series on the advantages of securing your system-to-system and person-to-person file transfer processes.  Please take a moment to register for one, or both, of these informative live presentations.

Webinar: Get Your FTP Server in Compliance

Get Your FTP Server in Compliance

Are you still running an outdated FTP server in your DMZ? Does your FTP server have the security controls and audit reporting needed to meet the latest PCI DSS and HIPAA compliance requirements?

GoAnywhere goes beyond a typical FTP server by providing the enterprise-level features and security you need to get compliant.

FREE WEBINAR: Now Available On-Demand

We demonstrate GoAnywhere and how to:

  • Use SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS for file transfers
  • Protect files at rest and in motion with AES 256 encryption
  • Set triggers to automatically process files
  • Control access to private and shared folders with granular permissions
  • Generate detailed audit logs and reports

Register Now


3 Advantages of an On-premise Solution for File Sharing

Are you looking for a better solution than cloud-based file sharing services like Dropbox to transmit sensitive company data?

Put an end to employees using unsecure cloud-based file sharing services. Improve compliance and cut the risk of sensitive company data falling into the wrong hands.

FREE WEBINAR: Now Available On-Demand

We cover the three advantages of an on-premise product for Enteprise File Sync and Sharing (EFSS):

  • Local management of user accounts and files
  • End-to-end encryption of files at rest and in motion
  • No monthly user subscription fees or storage limits

Register Now


Join us for these complimentary webinars to get a valuable tour of GoAnywhere MFT. Linoma's engineers will be on hand during the webinars to answer your technical questions.


Healthcare Industry Still Lags in Protecting Data

As healthcare information security requirements and penalties get tougher, a great deal of discussion is focused around how well the healthcare industry is securing patient data.

healthcare data security survey results

The general consensus is that the industry still has a long way to go. One of the industry's publications, Healthcare InfoSecurity, released the results of the Healthcare Information Security Today survey sponsored by RSA which took an in-depth look at security and IT practices of senior executives in the healthcare industry.

<< click on the image to learn more  

 

The survey reviews many information security topics including

  • Impact of a data breach
  • Security threats
  • Compliance and steps to improve security
  • Risk assessment

Some of the responses surprised us on how far healthcare companies need to go for proper HIPAA compliance. Take a look at these statistics:

  • 55% of respondents were not confident in their organization's ability to comply with HIPAA and HITECH Act regulations concerning privacy and security (grading themselves adequate or less).
  • 66% responded that their organization's ability to counter internal information security threats was adequate or less.
  • Only 47% of survey participants utilize encryption for information accessible via a virtual private network or portal.
  • 32% of respondents have not conducted a detailed information technology security risk assessment/analysis within the past year with 47% updating their risk assessment only periodically.

The good news is that the survey shows that healthcare organizations are taking steps in the right direction to improve their security practices.

  • 37% of organizations' budgets for information security are scheduled to increase over the next year.
  • 40% of respondents plan to implement audit tool or a log management solution within the next year.

When asked what their organization's top three information security priorities are for the coming year, the top responses included

  • Improving regulatory compliance efforts
  • Improving security awareness/education
  • Preventing and detecting breaches

Healthcare IT teams will need updated security policies, comprehensive training for employees, and reliable tools and solutions that can deliver functionality, ease of use, audit reporting, and efficient workflows that protect the security of confidential data at rest and in motion.

The pressure is growing, compliance audits are looming, and tackling these issues are just part of the evolution of the healthcare industry.  


New Protections for Patient Data Increase Pressure For Trading Partners to Get Compliant

Yet another layer of regulation has been added to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that offers even greater protection for healthcare patients' privacy, while also defining new rights regarding how they can access their health records.

meet HIPAA compliance regulationsThe biggest change is the expansion of HIPAA compliance requirements to include trading partners and third parties who also handle patient data, such as billing companies, contractors, and more.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that these third parties have been responsible for several significant data breaches which is one reason the responsibility for compliance has been extended to this group.

Penalties for violating HIPAA compliance rules will be assessed based on the determined level of negligence, and can go as high as $1.5 million per incident.

Other issues addressed with the latest additions to the HIPAA regulations include more clarity in defining which types of breaches need to be reported, as well as how patients will be allowed to access and interact with their health records electronically.

If you're concerned about whether your FTP server meets compliance regulations, join us for a webinar on Thursday, Jan. 31 at Noon Central entitled "Get Your FTP Server in Compliance!"  You can learn more about the agenda for this webinar here.

For more information about the new HIPAA rules, check out the press release from HHS.


Healthcare Data Breaches on the Rise

Stories of data breaches across all industries continue to make the news, and nowhere is the pressure greater to keep data safe than on healthcare IT managers.

Healthcare IT News states that health data breaches increased by 97% in 2011. The 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon's RISK team confirmed that over 174 million records were reported as compromised, mostly as the result of hackers accessing the data. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center 2011 Breach Stats Report, 20% of all data breaches in 2011 were in the healthcare industry.

data breach statistics for 2012

What is most startling about this report is that, according to the RISK study, 97% of these cases could have been avoided through simple or intermediate security controls.  The graphic (see right) is one of the many included in Verizon's study.

Because the most common place where data is compromised is from corporate databases and web servers, hackers who gain access to these vulnerable areas are mining this data for private information such as social security numbers, birthdates and credit card information.

Studies like these underscore the importance of establishing network security perimeters and implementing procedures that protect the privacy of  patients' information residing on these servers.

IT managers must be vigilant to combat hackers' ever more sophisticated tools and methods, and that begins with better security procedures at the office.

Security Policy and Procedures Document

The first step in ramping up security is to write and formalize a security policy and procedures document that addresses best practice protocols and that encompasses applicable HIPAA and HITECH regulations.

Next, all employees must be trained and expectations for compliance made clear,  because it takes a concerted effort on everyone's part to ensure the required protections are implemented consistently.

Secure Data Files In Motion

One of the more popular ways for hackers to capture sensitive data is via the movement of files and documents across the Internet.  In an earlier blog post, we talked about how standard FTP is commonly used to send files. However, FTP sends the files in unencrypted form, and offers no protection for the server's login credentials. Once those credentials are captured, hackers can use them to access the FTP server to mine additional data files.

While managing the security of all of the files in the office may seem overwhelming, Managed File Transfer solutions can simplify this task. Used in conjunction with a reverse proxy gateway, a much greater security perimeter is formed around the network, servers and the sensitive data that need protection.


Building a Framework for HIPAA and HITECH Compliance

HITECH laws were enacted to up the ante on healthcare organizations to meet HIPAA legal compliance for data security and privacy, which, of course puts an additional burden on IT to make sure all bases are covered.  But regardless of the rigors of enacted laws, compliance doesn't happen overnight. It takes diligence and continued effort to understand and address all necessary requirements. To avoid the potential penalties of breaking HIPAA and HITECH laws, losing the confidence of patients and partners, and incurring hefty penalties, a focused, deliberate, measured plan is essential.

In addition to becoming familiar with HIPAA and HITECH regulations (a good place to start is the HHS.gov website), it's critical to meet with your security and management team and make decisions as to how your organization can best protect sensitive healthcare information. One of the first places to start this process is to fully document your department's own security policy and procedures.  This provides the foundation from which to train internal users in understanding and complying with the HIPAA and HITECH rules. In fact, having a security policies and procedures document is a requirement by HIPAA and HITECH.

If you don't currently have your security policies and procedures documented, one option for finding a good template is to Google the term, "IT Security Policies and Procedures." You will find free downloadable templates that give you a basic outline to follow.

If you already have this document in place, keep in mind it needs to be treated as a living document, to be changed and updated often as circumstances and requirements change.  Make a point to do a yearly, if not a bi-yearly, review.

Of course, documentation of security policies is only a start. You need to procure and implement proven security tools across your enterprise to protect your data -- whether the data resides on a server or is being transmitted across a network or the Internet.  A less-than exhaustive list of necessary IT security tools for ensuring compliance:  

 

  • Firewall - This security measure prevents intrusion into the private network from unauthorized outside viewers.
  • Email encryption  - To meet privacy requirements, email communications that contain private data must be encrypted.
  • Malware protection - This step keeps spyware/malware from infecting PCs and servers containing private data.
  • FTP communications - Managed file transfer solutions are designed specifically to provide encryption, logging and automation tools that make sure the sensitive data is secured and tracked while in motion, while reducing the time to manage all incoming and outgoing transactions
  • Backup protection - Backup files and tapes need to be encrypted and otherwise secured to make sure sensitive data can't fall into the wrong hands
  • Data shielding - Sensitive fields need to be encrypted or hidden to ensure that it can't be viewed or extracted by unauthorized viewers. A good data encryption product can also encrypt data on backup tapes as well sensitive data that might be shown in on-screen applications.
  • Physical facility protection - Server rooms, fax/copy/printer rooms, workstations all must be  considered when protecting sensitive data that is printed on paper or residing on servers or PCs.
  • Telephone and online communications - Anyone involved in telephone, online chat or discussion groups needs to be trained to be sensitive to privacy regulations and exposing sensitive information.

 

As you can see, there are several aspects of compliance to HITECH and other laws that need to be considered and addressed.  Healthcare professionals and organizations need to take their patients' privacy seriously, whether in the hospital, physician office or in electronic format on servers and digital communications with others.


HITECH Compliance Offers Challenges for IT

Outside of the finance industry, healthcare is one of the most regulated industries in the U.S.  As the healthcare policy debates rage on, one issue on which most Americans can agree is the need to keep personal healthcare information confidential and secure.

Major regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH have been passed into law to increase the security of our personal health information.  For better or worse, a major portion of the burden to comply with the regulations and all of their revisions falls upon the IT professionals.

HIPAA and HITECH: a brief overviewHITECH, data security, compliance

While HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act), passed in 1996, has received the most attention (see our blog), the more recently implemented HITECH law is quickly having an impact.

HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) was passed into law in 2009. The goal for the  HITECH is to strengthen the civil and criminal enforcement of already existing HIPAA regulations that require health organizations and their business partners to report data breaches.  HITECH also increases the penalties for security violations, and implements new rules for tracking and disclosing patient information breaches.

Data breach notification

Under HITECH rules, all data breaches of PHI (protected health information) must be reported to the individuals whose data was compromised. This includes reporting files that may have been hacked, stolen, lost or even transmitted in an unencrypted fashion.  If such a breach -- or potential breach -- affects 500 people or more, the media must also be notified.   Breaches of all sizes must always be reported to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), but if fewer than 500 individuals' records are affected, healthcare organizations can report the breach via the HHS website on an annual basis.  Larger breaches must be reported to HHS within 60 days.

Penalties for data breach

The HITECH Act implements a four tier system of financial penalties assessed based on the level of "willful neglect" a healthcare organization demonstrated resulting in the breach. Fines range from  $100 per breached record for unintended violations all the way up to $50,000 per record (with an annual cap of $1.5 million) when "willful neglect" is demonstrated.

Access to electronic health records (EHRs)

HITECH requires that the software that a health organization uses to manage its EHRs must make a person's electronic PHI records available to the patient and yet remain protected from data breach by encrypting the data and securing the connection.  Not surprisingly, email is not considered a secure method of data transmission.

Business associates

Before HITECH,  business associates of healthcare organizations were not held directly liable for privacy and security under the HIPAA rules, even though they had access to PHI.  HITECH now requires that all business associates with access to PHI are subject to the HIPAA rules and must maintain Business Associate Agreements with the healthcare organization that provides the PHI.  Business associates are also required to report any data breaches and are subject to the same penalties as their healthcare business partners.