Category: Healthcare IT

How Does the Dobbs Ruling Affect Healthcare IT and Patient Record Security

How Does the Dobbs Ruling Affect Healthcare IT banner

How Does the Dobbs Ruling Affect Healthcare IT and Patient Record Security?

The apex court of the US recently overturned Roe v. Wade(1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey(1992) in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org (2022). The court returned the responsibility for controlling abortion to the individual states after concluding that the US Constitution does not provide a right to abortion.

For healthcare organizations countrywide, the seismic Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by the Supreme Court has caused upheaval and confusion regarding patient privacy issues and providers’ obligations for data protection.

If you are a healthcare provider, the Dobbs ruling will not impact your ability to use electronic health records or to communicate and share that information with other providers. This ruling only applies to patient information, not in an “active clinical setting,” Any documents transmitted outside of these settings must still be protected health information under HIPAA.

 

Question of Vulnerability of Reproductive Health after the Decision

In addition to the decision’s clear systemic ramifications, Dobbs has presented several difficulties for pharmacies and prompted concerns about adhering to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy regulations.

Many reproductive health proponents of HHC have expressed concerns about protecting reproductive health information after last month’s decision. This includes information saved in period tracking apps, text messages, web search history, and other places.

Modern Healthcare fears using the information to prosecute those who seek an abortion or even medical attention after a miscarriage and those who help them. Right now, HIPAA only protects the privacy of health information gathered by covered entities, such as health plans, clearinghouses for health information, and healthcare providers. Data collected by electronic devices and outside apps or organizations are not covered.

How Does the Dobbs Ruling Affect Healthcare IT middleResponse of Organizations

In the wake of the decision, several companies have taken steps to preserve and prevent using their users’ health data, particularly those about reproductive care. For example, Google announced that it would remove the location information if its search engine determined that a user visited an abortion clinic or another medical facility.

According to Planned Parenthood, a breach of protected health information has not occurred. It deleted marketing trackers from its search sites for abortions that shared data with third-party companies out of caution. It also mentioned that it offers a different appointment scheduling and confirmation tool that is, according to it, HIPAA-compliant.

Similarly, Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties organization, advised users to pay attention to privacy settings on their services, switch off location services on apps that don’t need them, and utilize encrypted messaging services to protect their electronic health data.

Some applications for tracking periods have also made efforts to reassure their users that their health information is safe and secure. As an illustration, Flo said it is creating an “anonymous mode” that will let users delete their names, email addresses, and other unique identifiers from their profiles.

 

Response of the Government

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published guidance on June 29, 2022, outlining how HIPAA constricts disclosures by covered entities and business associates to law enforcement agencies without a court order or other legal mandate.

In light of new state laws forbidding abortion, the guideline offers valuable insight into how OCR may employ HIPAA enforcement to prevent illegal disclosures of protected health information (PHI) to law enforcement personnel.

OCR makes it plain that it wants to protect the privacy of people getting abortions and other reproductive health care. According to OCR, regulations that forbid specific conduct do not authorize the sharing of Personal Health Information(PHI) concerning an individual and such prohibited behavior. Instead, all other requirements in the HIPAA Privacy Rule must be followed, and the law must expressly require such disclosure or disclosure following a legally recognized process. The guidance states that disclosure is only allowed without causing a HIPAA breach.

However, depending on the state, laws that permit criminal or civil action against

  • Someone who seeks an abortion
  • Someone who performs an abortion,
  • Someone who provides the means for an abortion may be used as the justification for revealing PHI for law enforcement purposes, and in states where relevant laws are in force, disclosures may be allowed.

Therefore, HIPAA may not offer the amount of protection against disclosure of PHI that may be inferred based on OCR’s recommendations in light of new state laws that forbid particular conduct by third parties.

To avoid unauthorized disclosure of PHI and HIPAA violations, healthcare organizations should caution their employees and providers not to conflate mandatory reporting laws with state laws that forbid abortion. They should also remind them that legal counsel should review any mandatory reporting. Otherwise, there is a chance of breaking federal or state laws requiring secrecy.

In a nutshell, OCR’s guidance reminds consumers that HIPAA protections do not apply to apps used on personal devices like smartphones that are not directly offered by a Covered Entity or its Business Associate. This covers the numerous applications that provide healthcare-related services but are not offered by Covered Entities, such as period trackers.

However, disclosures needed by law or for law enforcement purposes may apply to Covered Entities and their Business Associates. Additionally, HIPAA does not apply to cell phone service providers, and HIPAA generally does not protect communications made using a mobile device, including calls, messages, and emails. Due to these factors, it will be crucial for people to decide whether and how to communicate with providers electronically for tasks like scheduling appointments.

If privacy is an issue, people should also limit the amount of personal information shared through mobile devices, including apps that might offer health-related services but are not provided through Covered Entities.

 

Final Words

Regulations concerning data privacy will continue to change in the wake of the Dobbs ruling. Legal counsel should be consulted before pharmaceutical shops or businesses disclose PHI to stay current on the legal climate and guidelines. Reproductive health information will remain a significant concern for patients and application users.

The healthcare industry and application developers should consider updating their online privacy policies to address potential patient and user privacy concerns. Law enforcement agencies should not overstate the protections provided under HIPAA and other state privacy laws against disclosing health information.

With a vision to make the world a healthier place, Protected Harbor’s products are designed to secure and protect the health information of patients and providers in the hospital and clinical environments.

We offer tailored solutions to protect healthcare organizations against current and future cyber threats. Our offerings include network security, endpoint protection, remote monitoring and management, and other cybersecurity services. We have a team of certified engineers who are experts in their fields. A continuous learning and improvement culture helps us stay updated with evolving technological trends and best practices. We are focused on improving the health and wellness of our customers and their customers, which we accomplish by building trust, reliability, and transparency in every aspect of our service.

We are working to protect millions of Americans’ health information and critical data. Contact us today for a free security risk assessment.

How Remote Patient Monitoring Creates Security Threats

How-Remote-Patient-Monitoring-Creates-Security-Threats banner

How Remote Patient Monitoring Creates Security Threats

Securing data flow is essential for new technologies in a world of cybercrime and security. The potential value of patient data to criminals is significant in today’s healthcare industries.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, remote patient monitoring was widespread. As clinicians increasingly use technology to support patients’ health and wellness and changes to Medicare CPT codes in 2020, RPM has grown into one of the most lucrative Medicare care management programs.

Between 2015 and 2022, the remote patient monitoring market’s CAGR is anticipated to increase by 13%. However, the quick adoption of telehealth is not without security threats. Security issues must be carefully evaluated, even though they may not outweigh telehealth’s enormous advantages to patients and clinicians.

 

What Is Remote Patient Monitoring?

Patient monitoring is placing a device on an individual’s body to monitor their vital signs and diagnose or treat medical conditions.

Remote patient monitoring enables patients to be monitored in a remote location away from the hospital, clinic, or another healthcare facility. This can be done using various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Remote patient monitoring is becoming more popular as it provides the following:

  • Increased convenience for the patient
  • Reduced stress on the healthcare team by allowing them to focus on other aspects of treatment rather than dealing with monitoring equipment
  • Improved patient outcomes with fewer visits to the hospital emergency room

How-Remote-Patient-Monitoring-Creates-Security-Threats middle

Examples of Remote Patient Monitoring Technology

RPM technology can include everything from mobile medical equipment to websites that let users enter their data. Several instances include:

  • People living with Diabetes can use glucose meters.
  • Blood pressure or heart rate monitoring.
  • Remote monitoring and treatment for infertility
  • Drug abuse patients may benefit from at-home exams to help them stay accountable and on track with their objectives.
  • Programs for tracking diet or calorie intake.

Security Threats to Remote Patient Monitoring

Here are major security threats to remote patient monitoring:

Credential Escalation

Credential escalation is one of the most common threats to remote patient monitoring. This is because it allows attackers to access devices and systems they would not otherwise have access to, like networked printers and medical devices. It also allows attackers to steal data or turn off your monitoring system.

Insecure Ecosystem Interfaces

Many systems that support remote patient monitoring have an interface that allows patients and doctors to control them. These interfaces often use web technology to interact with their users. Still, they also have access to other systems connected via different protocols like UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) or RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). These protocols are designed for local networks; they cannot be used on a public network without some proxy.

Phishing attacks

Phishing is a social engineering method involving sending an email or text message to an unsuspecting user, pretending to be from the bank or other company they frequent.

Many remote patient monitoring systems have a single point of failure. The system administrator is responsible for ensuring that the backup system is functioning correctly and that it’s up to date with any security patches.

If the system fails, an attacker can take over your RPM system. This can be done by sending out phony emails or fake phone calls, tricking you into clicking on malicious links in those emails or calls. Once inside the network, an attacker could access sensitive information about patients and their medical records.

Malicious Software

All the patient monitoring devices used in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities have been susceptible to malicious software attacks. The most common cause for this is outdated software versions that do not provide adequate protection from hackers or cybercriminals.

These devices are still vulnerable because they do not have enough security measures to protect them from hackers and cybercriminals. Some hospitals have decided to upgrade their systems to prevent these attacks.

Ransomware

The ransomware attack on Remote Patient Monitoring is a new trend in the digital world. This attack will most likely occur in small and medium-sized businesses focusing primarily on their services and products.

The primary purpose of this attack is to steal vital information or resources from companies or individuals so they can use them later for their benefit.

Ransomware attacks usually target companies with confidential files on their computers and servers because they are easy to access. People who want to get these files will pay money for them, either directly or indirectly.

 

How to Protect Remote Patient Monitoring?

The remote patient monitoring industry is proliferating, and so are the attacks on it. Here are some steps to protect your business from potential threats.

Keeping Technology Updated

Remote patient monitoring systems contain many components, including cameras, sensors, and software. These systems must be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates. This is especially important if you use a third-party vendor to provide your network security solution.

Protecting the Cloud Environment

The cloud environment can be vulnerable to cyberattacks, especially regarding HIPAA-compliant healthcare information, usually stored in the cloud. To protect your data from being stolen by hackers or other malicious actors, consider using a cloud storage provider specifically designed for healthcare applications – such as a cloud storage provider built for healthcare settings like yours.

Embracing a Zero-Trust Approach

A zero-trust approach means that all interactions between an organization’s devices and its users should be trusted automatically without requiring any permissions or confirmation from human users. This helps minimize the possible points of failure in organizations’ networks and reduces the risk for employees who unknowingly share sensitive information.

 

Conclusion

While monitoring a patient’s health remotely does seem like a great idea, especially for the chronically ill who may have trouble leaving their homes, remote monitoring also introduces new security threats into the healthcare industry. No system is perfect without precautions and security measures. Healthcare organizations must be aware of these new vulnerabilities, from patients’ privacy to the dangers of cyber hacking and compromising patient information.

With the right partner, you can feel confident that your data stays protected. Our team is dedicated to keeping your data safe and secure, so you can focus on providing the best care possible.

With the Protected Harbor team’s vast experience and proven track record, you can trust that your data is in good hands. With years of experience delivering secure IT, and Cloud solutions in line with industry standards and best practices, Protected Harbor professionals pay close attention to the vulnerability of remote monitoring solutions.

We work with all types of providers, from small to large, to protect your data, reduce risk, and keep your organization secure. Our team of experts will work with you to create a customized solution that meets your company’s requirements. Our cybersecurity solutions are reliable and scalable to fit your organization’s needs.

Feel free to contact our experts if you wish to begin developing a hack-proof medical device or if you wish to schedule an IT audit.

The Recent Medical Data Leaks

The-Recent-Medical-Data-Leaks-and-What-You-Can-Do-About-It Banner

The Recent Medical Data Leaks and What You Can Do About It

Did you know that medical data is the new gold? Unencrypted patient records are worth $300 billion, and that number will keep growing. This blog will explore the recent medical data leaks and their potential consequences. You’ll also learn how to protect your sensitive information — so you can avoid being one of the many victims of medical data breaches.

A recent study by Comparitech covered breaches. Their team of researchers analyzed data from 2009 to June 2022 to find out which US states suffer the most medical breaches and how many records have been affected each year. They also looked at breaches from January 2021 to June 2022 to find the most significant cause of these breaches and the most-affected healthcare organizations.

 

Key Findings

  • In 2017 alone, there were over 2,800 data breaches, affecting over 178 million patients in the US alone.
  • More than half of data breach victims don’t even know they’ve been affected.
  • Only 13% of healthcare providers offer free identity protection services.
  • Over 50% of data breach victims do not change their passwords after a breach.
  • 4,746 medical breaches were reported between 2009 and June 2022.
  • These breaches affected 342,017,215 user records.
  • 803 documented medical breaches made 2020 the year with the most (the second-highest was 2021 with 711).
  • With almost 112 million records affected overall, 2015 saw the most records affected.
  • Hospital networks are responsible for the most records that have been compromised in 2021 and 2022 (so far), accounting for 8.8 million records (16 percent of all records affected). Specialist clinics—clinics that specialize in a particular area of medicine—account for the most data breaches (15 percent), with 130 breached entities overall.
  • Hacking was the most frequent breach in 2021 and 2022 (so far), making up 40% of breaches (353 out of 862).

Top 5 Medical Data BreachesThe-Recent-Medical-Data-Leaks-and-What-You-Can-Do-About-It middle

Anthem  Inc. – The second-largest health insurance company in the US, was hit with a massive data breach in 2015 – one of the largest on record (78.8 Million records).

Optum360 LLC- From August 2018 to March 2019, hackers gained access to the sensitive financial and personal data of 11.5 million lab patients at the American Medical Collection Agency.

Excellus Health – This breach affected 10 million people and was discovered two months after the Anthem breach was announced.

Premera Blue Cross – This breach impacted 11 million people and was caused by malware that was used for two months. Premera Blue Cross was compelled to pay the OCR $6.85 million.

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings- In 2019, A hacker gained access to the American Medical Collection Agency, a third party it employed for payments. Over 10.2 million people’s personal, financial, and medical information was compromised.

 

Biggest Years for Medical Data Breaches

The year with the most medical data breaches, with an overall total of 803, was 2020. A significant number of breaches were also reported in 2021 (711), closely followed by 2019 (520). This demonstrates the exponential growth in medical data breaches over the past three years.

The median number of records affected by each breach between 2009 and 2018 remained roughly 2,000 when we looked at the median number of records affected for each year. In 2019, there was a significant increase from 2018. (rising by 70 percent from 2,284 to 3,893). This persisted through 2020 (with a rise of 26% from 3,893 to 4,916) and from 2021 to 2022. (rising by 4 percent up to 5,122).

Why the increase in data breaches? There are many reasons, including the fact that the healthcare industry is growing, more people are using the Internet, and more sensitive data is being exchanged online. The healthcare industry is still struggling to adapt to the cyber threat landscape.

 

Most Common Data Breach Type

Data breaches are rising, and data loss is becoming more common. But what type of data breaches are most prevalent in the healthcare sector? Healthcare providers losing control of their data is a common occurrence nowadays.

With 288 out of 711 breaches (41 percent) in 2021 involving medical companies, hacking emerged as the most prevalent method. With 161 attacks (23% of all attacks, excluding unknowns), ransomware was the next most prevalent category. Theft of data is the third most prevalent type of data breach.

 

2022 for Medical Data Breaches

151 documented medical data breaches impacted 7,997,739 records during the first half of 2022. Even if these numbers seem low, they may increase over the next few months.  Perhaps more focused attacks are the cause of this. This is evident from the MCG Health data leak. The software provider revealed that its systems were breached through unauthorized access on June 10 this year. Nearly 800,000 records have been affected by the breach on MCG Health, and at least eight organizations have reported it thus far.

 

Conclusion

The healthcare sector is under attack, and the threat is likely to grow as time goes on. The best way to protect sensitive information is to prepare in advance. Encrypt the data before sending it over the Internet or storing it on a device. This protective measure can be applied to nearly any data type, preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing the information.

Protected Harbor helps companies prevent cyber breaches, data loss, and regulatory non-compliance by offering security solutions such as data monitoring, cloud security, and DLP. Our clients include small businesses, enterprises, healthcare, and government agencies.

Protected Harbor is one of the top cybersecurity providers trusted by thousands of businesses across the country for offering robust cybersecurity solutions. With our expert team of engineers and technicians, you can be assured complete security for your business.

Get a free cybersecurity and ransomware audit today and get cyber-secured.

IT Security Incident Affects Multiple Facilities Across CommonSpirit Health

IT Security Incident Affects Multiple Facilities Across CommonSpirit Health Banner

IT Security Incident Affects Multiple Facilities Across CommonSpirit Health

One of the most significant health systems in the country, CommonSpirit Health, said that the IT security breach happened on Monday, October 3, 2022.

 

CommonSpirit Health, a faith-based healthcare organization, located throughout the Midwest, recently experienced an unfortunate security incident. At first glance, this security incident may appear innocuous since it only involved exposing sensitive patient information. However, the ramifications extend far beyond a breach of privacy.

In light of these developments, we have compiled a brief overview of the CommonSpirit Health IT security incident to help you identify potential vulnerabilities in your environment.

 

What Happened?

According to reports, a hack on CommonSpirit Health System that is still ongoing compromised facilities in Tennessee, Nebraska, and Washington. EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are currently among the offline IT systems, and patient visits have since been rescheduled.

The number of facilities impacted by the issue, which started on Monday, is still unknown, as is the number of patient records.

According to a statement from CommonSpirit, “as a result of this situation, we have rescheduled some patient visits in several of our communities.” If a patient’s appointment is impacted, their provider and care facility will contact them directly.

One of the largest health systems in the nation, based in Chicago, runs 142 hospitals and more than 2,200 care facilities throughout 21 states.

It stated, “We take our responsibility to safeguard patient privacy and IT security very seriously.”

According to CHI (Catholic Health Initiatives), the facilities are adhering to procedures for system failures and “[are] taking steps to minimize the disturbance.”

 

Why This Matters?

IT Security Incident Affects Multiple Facilities Across CommonSpirit Health Middle

In 2019, Trinity Health and CHI merged to create CommonSpirit Health, a new nonprofit Catholic health system with a presence in 21 states.

According to The Chattanoogan.com in Tennessee, the hacking attack impacted the neighborhood of CHI Memorial hospital. According to the report, CHI officials said several patient procedures had to be rescheduled, and some systems had to be shut down.

The Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle has also stated that the outage has affected their systems. St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma is one of the hospitals and clinics in the Puget Sound region run by VMFH. Given this, patients could not access MyChart, an online patient portal.

CommonSpirit is one of several renowned nonprofit health systems reporting significant losses for the most recent fiscal year.

In 2022, the company recorded losses of $1.85 billion.

Wright Lassiter, formerly with Henry Ford Health, was recently named by
CommonSpirit as its new CEO and Lloyd Dean’s replacement.

 

Protected Harbor’s Take on the Matter

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Well, this holds true when it comes to cybersecurity as well as in the case of the CommonSpirit health incident. Even the most diligent and well-intentioned companies can be the victim of a data breach. With the GDPR in effect, it’s now a matter of public record if your data has been stolen.” – Richard Luna, CEO of Protected Harbor.

It is a proven fact that most cyberattacks happen due to negligence. Therefore, it is imperative to have a reliable security system to protect you from all sorts of online threats. At the same time, it is equally essential for you to keep your operating systems, antiviruses, firewalls, and patches up to date with the latest versions available. Without regular updates, your system can become vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Therefore, it is essential that you keep track of all the updates and install them at the right time.

MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) and IAM (Identity Access Management) are the primary security requirements we suggest all businesses implement to have an extra layer of security.

Cybersecurity awareness should be an integral part of your business plan. It doesn’t matter if you are a large corporation or a small business; cybersecurity is critical for everyone.

For more information, check out a quick guide to proactive cybersecurity measures.

 

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, many businesses are unaware of the significance a robust security plan has and thus remain vulnerable to cyber threats. If you are concerned about your business’s security and want a foolproof security plan, then hiring an expert can help you.

Protected Harbor offers a range of security services, including a Web Application Firewall (WAF), data breach response, email security, ransomware security, and cloud security to businesses of all sizes. We keep your data and systems secure, help you comply with regulations, and meet your documentation requirements. Our products are easy to use and come with 24/7 support.

Our focus on ease of use, transparency, and value for your dollar sets us apart from the competition. Protected Harbor is one of the best-reviewed cybersecurity providers. We have a 90+ Net Promoter Score.

Even if you feel you have a solid security plan, it can’t work if it’s not in use. A security audit of your network and systems is equally as important. With that being said, Protected Harbor is here to help and will be offering free cybersecurity assessments for all healthcare providers. Contact us today.

Data Breach Strikes California’s Largest Hospital System: 69,000 Patients Affected

Data-Breach-Strikes-Californias-Largest-Hospital-System

Hackers gained access to the test results of tens of thousands of patients at California’s leading hospital system.

 

What Happened

Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit health plan provider, has announced a data breach that exposed almost 70,000 individuals’ sensitive health information.

According to TechCrunch, the breach of Kaiser Permanente’s systems was first disclosed to patients in a June 3 letter. According to the letter, the breach was first discovered on April 5, when officials learned that an “unauthorized entity” had accessed a Kaiser employee’s emails. The emails contained “protected health information” about tens of thousands of Kaiser customers. According to a second filing with the Department of Health and Human Services, the total number of people affected by the breach is 69,589.

The exposed data includes first and last names, medical record numbers, dates of service, and laboratory test result information according to the disclosure letter. Still, no social security or credit card details were involved.

According to Kaiser’s email to customers, which was published, “we terminated the unauthorized access within hours of it occurring and promptly initiated an investigation to identify the magnitude of the event.” “We found that the emails contained protected health information, and while we have no evidence that an unauthorized party accessed the material, we cannot rule out the possibility.”

Though the HHS document classifies the incident as a “Hacking/IT Incident,” it’s unclear how the “unauthorized person” got access to the emails.

 

What It Means

Over the last few years, the healthcare business has seen an influx of unwanted attention from cybercriminals. A data breach at a Massachusetts healthcare company exposed information on the treatments that up to two million people had received, as well as their names, birthdays, and Social Security numbers, only last week. We recently saw a data breach at Eye Care Leaders, so it’s becoming common for healthcare organizations every day. During the pandemic, hospitals and healthcare providers were popular targets, and it’s easy to see why. Medical facilities are attractive targets for cybercriminals because they store massive databases of personal information that can be ransomed, stolen, or sold on the dark web. The cybersecurity defenses provided by hospitals’ antiquated digital infrastructure aren’t the finest in the world.

Human Error is Still a Threat to Security

The event also highlights what has always been and continues to be the most significant security risk businesses face in human error.

According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), which takes a complete look at data breaches from the previous year, 82 percent of the intrusions studied last year featured “the human element,” which can mean a variety of things.

“Whether it’s the use of stolen credentials, phishing, misuse, or simply an error,” researchers wrote in the report, “humans continue to play an eminent part in incidents and breaches alike.”

69000-Healthcare-Records-Exposed-By-Kaiser-Permanente-Breach-small

Protected Harbor’s Take on The Matter

“The threat of Business Email Compromise (BEC), which appears to have occurred in the Kaiser incident, is particularly serious.”- said Richard Luna, CEO of Protected Harbor. Socially designed phishing and other malicious email campaigns trick unwary employees into giving up credentials to their business email accounts have become increasingly sophisticated.

Once a threat actor has secured early access to a firm network, this might lead to more malicious operations, such as ransomware or other financially driven cybercrimes.

In fact, BEC has become a big financial drain for businesses, with the FBI recently reporting that companies spent $43 billion on this type of attack between June 2016 and December 2021. In fact, there was a 65 percent increase in BEC schemes between July 2019 and December 2021, which the FBI ascribed to the epidemic forcing most business activity to take place online.

Tips to stop BEC & Common Attacks

Upstream Spam Filter- Spam filters detect unsolicited, unwanted, and virus-infested emails (also known as spam) and prevent them from reaching inboxes. Spam filters are used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ensure that they are not transmitting spam. Spam filters are also used by small and medium-sized organizations (SMBs) to protect their employees and networks.

Inbound email (email that enters the network) and outbound email (email that leaves the network) are both subject to spam filtering (email leaving the network). ISPs use both strategies to protect their clients. Inbound filters are usually the focus of SMBs.

2FA– 2FA is an additional layer of protection that verifies that anyone is attempting to access an online account are who they claim to be. The user must first provide their username and password. They will then be requested to submit another piece of information before they can receive access. This provides an additional layer of security to the process of gaining access.

Applying Recent Security Updates– Updating your software is very important, and it’s something that you should never overlook. Frequently updating your devices and installing the latest security updates can help to protect you from cyber threats and keep your devices secure.

Restricting User Access to Core Files (Access Control)– Access control is a security approach regulating who or what can view or utilize resources in a computing environment. It is an essential security concept that reduces the risk to the company or organization. Access control is a critical component of security compliance programs because it guarantees that security technology and access control policies are in place to secure sensitive data, such as customer information.

Network Monitoring for Malicious Activity– Network security monitoring is an automated procedure that looks for security flaws, threats, and suspicious activity in network devices and traffic. It can be used by businesses to detect and respond to cybersecurity breaches quickly. Network monitoring identifies and analyzes weaknesses, notifying you of potential security threats. Cybersecurity alerts enable you to swiftly safeguard your company from network attacks and the resulting calamities.

User Activity Monitoring- User activity monitoring (UAM) solutions are software tools that track and monitor end-user behavior on company-owned IT resources such as devices, networks, and other IT resources. Enterprises can more easily spot suspicious behavior and manage risks before they occur in data breaches, or at least in time to minimize damages, by deploying user activity monitoring.

 

Final Thoughts

In a world where cyber-attacks are common and more sophisticated than ever before, businesses must take steps to protect themselves and their customers from data breaches and other cyber threats. One way to do this is by partnering with a trusted company that offers unparalleled cybersecurity solutions.

Thanks to our innovative cloud-based approach to security, you can be sure that your company will be well protected against the ever-evolving threats to data security. By thoroughly examining your company’s network security and other aspects of its IT infrastructure, we can identify areas of weakness and suggest ways to correct them.

Visit Protectedharbor.com today to get a risk-free review of your current IT security solution. You’ll receive a detailed assessment of your current security setup and recommendations for improving your security posture.

What Iran’s Cyber Attack On Boston Children’s Hospital Means For Your Healthcare Organization

What Iran’s Cyber Attack On Boston Children’s Hospital Means For Your Healthcare Organization

Cyber-Attack On Boston Children HospitalWednesday, June 1st, At a Boston College cybersecurity conference hosted by Mintz, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that investigators prevented a planned attack on Boston Children’s Hospital by Iranian government-sponsored hackers. The FBI director told the story as part of a bigger speech about cyber threats from Russia, China, and Iran, as well as the importance of government-private partnerships.

What Happened

In the summer of 2021, the FBI received a tip from an intelligence partner that hackers sponsored by the Iranian government were targeting the Boston Children’s Hospital. The cyber squad in the FBI Boston Field Office raced to notify the hospital. Over a 10-day period, worked with the hospital in response to the threat

Wray didn’t say why the hospital attack was planned, but he did say that Iran and other governments have been hiring cyber mercenaries to carry out attacks on their behalf. Furthermore, the US government has identified the healthcare and public-health sectors as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors. Healthcare providers such as hospitals are considered easy targets for hackers.

It wasn’t clear if the hackers planned to target the hospital with ransomware, shut down the hospital operations with a virus, or sell the data on the black market.  That’s because the FBI caught the attack early enough to prevent any damage to the network or the hospital’s data. The FBI declined to discuss the specific nature of the attack in detail, citing security reasons.

Nevertheless, the FBI issued a warning in November saying Iranian government hackers had breached the “environmental control network” at an unidentified children’s hospital in the United States last June. Leading many to assume the same was targeted in Boston. The environmental control network refers to the hospital’s HVAC system.

What it Means

In the case of ransomware, hospitals can face devastating system shutdowns. Patient data can be made inaccessible to hospital staff, it can be damaged, or it can be stolen and sold. A ransomware attack compromised a Vermont hospital’s patient record system in October 2020, and patients have turned away as a result.

Nation-states and hacker groups are probing healthcare organizations and looking for areas to exploit. This past November, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an alert for an Iran-sponsored hacker group targeting healthcare. As the Russia-Ukraine war drags on, federal agencies say U.S. healthcare organizations need to be “shielded up” to mitigate against potential foreign threats.

The FBI is “racing” to warn possible healthcare targets of data breaches when it comes to Russia and other state-sponsored attacks. According to Wray, China’s hackers have stolen more business and personal data from Americans than all other countries combined as part of an enormous geopolitical ambition to “lie, cheat, and steal their way into global denominations of global industries.”

All hospitals and healthcare organizations must sit up and take notice. It is not only hacktivist groups and employees they need to worry about, today. But nation-states as well.

Cyber Attack On HospitalProtected Harbor’s Take On The Issue

Protected Harbor has been monitoring the situation for a long time and continues to emphasize cybersecurity. Richard Luna, CEO of Protected Harbor, said this is a severe issue, and we advise all our clients to take precautionary measures and make sure their systems are secure and protected.

He suggested 3 simple tips to harden your servers, which every company should implement immediately.

1. Update the operating systems on your servers regularly.

The most crucial action you can take to secure your servers is to keep their operating systems up to date. On a nearly daily basis, new vulnerabilities are discovered and publicized, with the potential for remote code execution or local privilege escalation.

2. Enforce The Use Of Strong Passwords

Enforcing the usage of strong passwords across your infrastructure is an important security measure. Attackers will have a harder time guessing passwords or cracking hashes to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive systems. A smart place to start is with 10-character passwords that include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Password guessing attacks can be stopped by combining a strong password policy with a powerful account robust policy that locks accounts after a few erroneous tries.

3. Use local protection mechanisms such as firewalls and anti-virus software.

Local protection measures and estate-wide controls like patching, domain configuration, and border fire-walling are critical for offering a defense-in-depth approach.

The chance of unneeded default services being exposed to the broader network is reduced when a host’s local firewall is configured correctly. Even if your patching schedule has fallen behind, it will still prevent an attacker from accessing critical network services. While not fool proof, this all-or-nothing strategy can distinguish between compromise and attacker frustration.

With so much at stake, it’s essential to ensure your business has a robust IT audit plan. With the help of a trusted IT auditing company like Protected Harbor, you can be sure that your systems are secure and functioning at peak efficiency. Because The FBI won’t always be there, but Protected Harbor will.

Sign up to get a risk-free IT Audit and see how you can improve your security. We will analyse your business from top to bottom and give recommendations on making your company safer. What are you waiting for? Get Protected!

Wellstar Health System Reveals Data Breach

Wellstar Health System reveals data breach

How to avoid being the next Wellstar Health SystemsWellstar Health System announced on Friday afternoon that its email system had been hacked.

Well, it happened again. A data breach occurred at yet another healthcare firm. This time, it was Wellstar Health System. Unauthorized attackers obtained access to two email accounts two months ago, the organization discovered on Friday. Through those email accounts, gained access to patients’ health care information and it was exposed, including patient laboratory information. They missed the 2021 Healthcare Data Breach Trend Report from Protected Harbor at HIMSS.

Emails are one of the most common ways that hackers access sensitive information. This is because people often use their work email for personal purposes, so it is easier to get access to it. Hackers can use different methods and tricks to an email account. They might trick health workers into sharing their passwords, or they could send them a virus that tries to steal employee passwords from company computers.

If you are reading this, you understand that it’s essential to keep any critical emails secure when handling sensitive information. After all, Patient Health Information (PHI) and Electronic Health Records (EHR) can earn a few hundred dollars each on the dark web. That means healthcare employees are more targeted by hackers. And still, many healthcare organizations are not taking the proper steps to protect company email from hacking.

This article will go over how to defend yourself against important threats and what email security precautions you should take.

Install the Right Software

One of the essential email security precautions you can take is installing the right software to protect your emails. Many software options offer various levels of protection, so find out which one will work best for your needs. If you’re in healthcare, consider higher levels of security because you have a lot more sensitive information. Healthcare IT staff may also want to invest in Malwarebytes, a well-rounded antivirus solution, to provide another layer of protection against hacking.

Spam Hero is a software that looks for spam scans messages for infections before it reaches the Stopping malware emails before reaching an inbox can help keep hackers out of any sensitive documents you may come across in the future. Think how many emails with attachments are sent each day; if they were all scanned before recipients could open them, this would significantly decrease the chances of hackers getting a hold of sensitive information like PHI and EHR.

Monitor Your Inbox Activities

One of your email inboxes has received ten emails in one day. However, you only get about two a day, you do not remember sending out any emails that day, and it’s a Sunday. Is there a cybersecurity breach on your network? It could indicate that someone is trying to gain access to company information and has begun by accessing people’s email accounts. Monitor account activity regularly, and if you notice anything suspicious, have a playbook to implement additional security measures if you see something odd. Set up a new email address if necessary and measures such as multifactor authentication or changing all passwords. It is also important to routinely change passwords, even when there is no evidence of a breach; no system is perfect, and it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Educate your Employees & Staff

As exposed recently, hackers find new ways to trick healthcare employees into giving up sensitive information. Here are four easy things every HCIT department can do to improve their company’s employee cyber safety awareness:

  1. Encourage employees to come forward if they suspect an email of being bogus.
  2. Educate employees on what dangerous emails might look like. A recent study showed that over a quarter of doctors could not identify a malware email.
  3. Tell your employees not to open attachments unless 100% confident that it is a trusted source. Installing a filter those auto-checks attachments is even better.
  4. Have an Email Password Checklist for all of your employees.

We all have complex emails, but make it a requirement, set up failsafes to avoid re-used passwords, and help make it easier for your staff with some tips and how-tos. These simple tips will help protect against email cyber-attacks.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a great way to add an extra layer of security to your online accounts and protect yourself against email cyber-attacks. 2FA prevents hackers from simply guessing passwords and lets you focus on protecting other healthcare network vulnerabilities. By implementing these simple steps, you can protect your business and its data without adding too much time or hassle into everyday workflows.

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from hacking is to turn on two-factor authentication. 2FA will help ensure your information is more secure, and it doesn’t take much more time or effort than what you were doing before.

You might think it’s unnecessary to use two-step verification when you already have high-end cybersecurity software, but that is not true. Software and two-step verification work together to make sure your information is safe. A bad actor can bypass a security measure, so it’s necessary to have other protections in place too. This is where software and 2FA come in handy again.

Wellstar Health System featureUse Encryption

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from hackers is by using encryption. Encryption scrambles the content of your email so that only you and the intended recipient can read it. It means that if a hacker does manage to intercept your email, they won’t be able to understand what it says. Even if they could break the encryption, any sensitive information in your email will be rendered indecipherable.

One such solution is ProtonMail, a secure email service that encrypts all of your messages by default. The only person who can decrypt your email is someone you sent it to or someone in the same organization (if they have a shared account).

Protect your Physical Computer and Network

Cybersecurity does not produce images of big burly security guards, but physical computer and network safety are just as crucial as virtual. This means having physical security checkpoints at entrances and exits of your healthcare organization. It would help if you also were careful about which devices employees plug into the network. Just because a power strip is plugged in doesn’t mean that it’s safe to plug in their mobile device.

Auto-lock and Remote Wipe Apps

Just think of how many texts you receive each day. You might likely be one of the unlucky people who have had their phone hacked. All someone needs to do is get a hold of your phone, and they can easily access any sensitive information on it, including work passwords. It may seem like locking your phone is a no-brainer, but not every employee does it. If your company hands out company phones or lets employees use their personal phones for work email, then decrease the auto-lock time to 30 seconds and install remote wiping.

Remote wipe is a security feature that allows a network administrator or device owner to send a command to a computer device that erases data. It’s usually used to wipe data from a lost or stolen device so that the information isn’t jeopardized if it comes into the wrong hands. It can also be used to erase data from a device that has changed owners or administrators and is no longer accessible physically.

Closing Thoughts

There are no easy answers when it comes to healthcare cybersecurity and email security. All of the things described above, and more, could have been performed by Wellstar Health System. Finally, attacks are growing more sophisticated, data is becoming more readily available, network connection points are rising, and healthcare IT professionals are being spread thin. When it comes to safeguarding your healthcare networks and servers, the first step is to determine which employees have access to sensitive information and which staff require specific data access.

Any strategy must also be adaptable and responsive to changes as they occur. Protected Harbor focuses on more than just software but hardware integration, special application connectivity, and employee workflows to create an always-safe environment. It is likely that at some point, HCIT will need to seek professional help to tackle the security breaches, so it is better to assign the task of managing the system security to an external agency. This way, you will no longer have to worry about data and network security, and your team will be able to focus on medical-related tasks.

An experienced, outside partner can help you see the bigger picture. Protected Harbor has the best practice knowledge on securing managed file transfers, HIPAA-compliant emails, data management, and security. We make sure your data is safe by using robust auditing and encryption technology that meets or exceeds HIPAA requirements for healthcare organizations.

Check out our 2021 Healthcare Data Breach Trend Report from HIMSS and our free eBook Optimizing the Healthcare Stack for Performance to learn more. We are also offering free IT Audits to all healthcare organizations for the next month following this attack. Reach out to schedule one today.

What is the most common cause of healthcare data breaches?

What is the most common cause of healthcare data breaches?

Patient’s medical records are a goldmine for malicious hackers—if they can get their hands on them. According to Cisco Internet Security Threat Report, healthcare is currently the most targeted industry by cybercriminals.

Health data breaches have been on the headlines for a while now. From the crippling breach of Anthem to the compromising of 10 million patient records at UCLA Health — nothing is sacred when it comes to cyberattacks these days. While the impact of security incidents might differ depending on their magnitude, it seems that poorly protected IT systems and hacking/IT incidents are often the biggest culprits in causing privacy and financial setbacks.

Healthcare data breaches are on the rise. Although many are concerned with hacking, several factors could potentially cause a significant healthcare data breach.

 

Common causes of healthcare data breaches!

Data breaches are becoming more and more common. With the rise of hacking, phishing, malware attacks, and new security regulations, all healthcare organizations need to stay proactive in protecting their data.

The most common cause of data breaches for healthcare organizations is malicious or cyber-criminal attacks. Data breaches can come from various sources, including hackers stealing protected health information (PHI) from an organization’s database, unencrypted devices, or a weak, stolen password. One of the biggest causes of healthcare data breaches is misconfigured medical devices and office equipment. Medical device security remains a major concern for organizations. Click here to know how do breaches happen and how to prevent them?

Hacking/ IT Incidents accounts for 47% of healthcare data breaches making it the #1 cause of healthcare data breaches.
(Source: Electronic Health Reporter)

 

hacking bar ratioPatient Data Theft: High risk
Health care industry members are all too familiar with data theft and new methods of exfiltrating information from connected medical devices such as electronic medical records (EMRs) and protected health information (PHIs). IP-enabled medical devices can be easily exploited by experienced hackers because of minimal access controls and known vulnerabilities. A hacker may then take data directly from the medical device, but since medical devices typically contain limited data, he is more likely to go to servers, data centers, or other devices on the network, like the XP workstation that is connected to the electronic medical record. Data breaches in healthcare are defined as theft and loss 32% of the time, compared to only 15% in different industries, 2nd to Hacking and IT incidents, as per Healthcare drive. With the number of high-profile breaches in healthcare over the past three years, healthcare organizations need tighter controls to mitigate this risk.

 

What is the cost to your company?

According to IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report 2021:

  • Healthcare organizations spent an average of $161 per breached record in 2021, which is expected to increase in the future.
  • On average, it takes 329 days to identify a breach.

The reports show that the cost of data breaches has risen once again, reaching a record high since IBM first published the report 17 years ago. The average cost of a data breach increased by 10% year over year, to $4.24 million per incident and that of healthcare data breaches increased by $2 million to $9.42 million per incident in 2021. The average cost of ransomware attacks was $4.62 million per incident.

 

How can you avoid a data breach?

  • Back up data– Having a proper backup schedule and implementing a secure process to access the off-site data is a preliminary requirement. Confirm that your backup/recovery partner is also HIPAA compliant. Cloud hosting solutions can also be considered for better security.
  • Two factor authentication- Multi-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, is a simple concept that can be implemented by companies easily. A key benefit of two-factor verification lies in its very name: it requires two variables to access an account, just as you need two keys to enter a house. The security is therefore twice as strong.
  • Safeguard data and devices- Ensure that the tools and policies for security are implemented, securing all the devices accessing your network. Remote monitoring for unauthorized access and unusual activity can opt. Limit and set proper data control and access for the devices.
  • Train and educate staff– create a policy for regular security training and practice sessions. Identifying phishing emails, ensuring password complexity, and adhering to anti-malware protocols should be a part of this training. More details

 

To wrap things up!

Security and compliance are among the top factors healthcare organizations consider when adopting new technologies. Many organizations didn’t or were not able to take the time to strategically align new cloud-based tools and platforms with existing security standards as they transitioned to remote work after the pandemic.
Security and privacy should be a priority when working with technology partners in healthcare. It is a trusted partner’s responsibility to ensure users’ privacy and security, having incorporated a variety of safeguards into their processes, designs, and code, as well as constructing the infrastructure to ensure careful protection of user information. Cisco, Greenway, GE Healthcare, and Protected Harbor are some of the most trusted and reliable healthcare IT solution providers who take pride in their experience of delivering solutions to healthcare and other organizations.