Thank Goodness! NIST says, “No more difficult passwords!”

Just when you thought all hope was lost of remembering your 16 character password with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters; NIST comes to the rescue. That's right!  The National Institute of Standards and Technology wrote a brief addendum to SP 800-53 which simplifies Strength of Memorized Secrets.  You and I refer to those "secrets" as passwords.  It's a light read, only 50 or 60 pages.  I don't really know because I didn't want to print it and kill four trees.  Anyway, the ...

Congress Addresses Medical Device Vulnerabilities

The Medical Device Cybersecurity Act of 2017 was introduced on August 1, 2017 by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  The new bill is intended to improve the security of medical devices and increase transparency. If passed, it would make healthcare organizations aware of the cyber capabilities of devices and the extent to which those devices have been tested.  Is this another law adding burden to a strained healthcare industry or a vital piece of legislation designed to protect the public?  Let’s se ...

World War III via Pacemakers

We're all smart enough to know the U.S. and the American way of life is under continuous threat by terrorist and underdog countries.  What we probably don't think about is ways those countries are fighting us on a regular basis.  It's not with bullets and bombs; it's with cyber crimes!  They have already stolen Federal employee information, including those employees' health records.  Foreign governments have incriminating evidence on many of these people's private lives. Do you remember the Allison ...

Healthy Skepticism – Your Best Cyber Defense

It's no longer news that most of us are uber-connected. We use phone apps for weather, meditation, mapping, games, travel, texting, and more.  Online management of home devices, including thermostats, coffee makers, and alarm systems make it possible for us to remotely control many aspects of our lives. These technologies offer previously unthinkable convenience – and a great deal of risk to their owner's physical and information security. Healthcare, too, is becoming more connected for all the s ...

Cybersecurity: It’s a healthcare risk issue

Wannacry may be the best thing that has happened to the healthcare industry in a long time. It brought to light just how terrible a job the industry does in protecting patients from identity theft.  That's what it means to lose a patient's protected health information or PHI. PHI is now a currency on the black market.  It is worth over a 100 times the value of a credit card record.  If you're a covered entity (healthcare plan, healthcare clearing house, or healthcare provider) or a business associate ...

Missing the HIPAA Target – Part 5 and Last of the Series

In this series I have tried to capture key steps to enable successful implementation of critical HIPAA elements.   Right or wrong, HIPAA has become the recipe for cybersecurity for healthcare.  But because of the legacy of HIPAA, the majority of providers do not take it seriously.  If you are not taking cybersecurity seriously, you are heading for a train wreck! This series has emphasized: Being risk management proficient rather than being a "HIPAA Expert". Being accountable, which means ...

Phishing with Ransomware – Don’t take the bait!

Phishing is a hacking technique that uses phony emails to trick users into revealing sensitive account information (e.g., account password) and/or installing malicious software (“malware”). With ransomware hogging the headlines, non-technical staff may have gotten the impression that the phishing threat is over. News flash – 97% of phishing messages now act as carriers for ransomware!  (Barkly Stats & Trends) Aaghh! So now, it’s more important than ever that staff be trained to anticipa ...

Closing the Cybersecurity Gap

As we hear more and more about breaches and ransomware in businesses and especially healthcare, it is becoming an even greater concern for healthcare business owners. It is no longer if you will be attacked, but when and how often. The first step in closing the cybersecurity gap is to realize that you can't do it on your own. Cybersecurity is not finding your basic "IT guy" that "can fix it". It is about obtaining the right resource whether that is a full time hire or a managed service. The next thin ...

What to do if you are a Ransomware victim – latest guidance from HHS

In an earlier post, Clint Eschberger explained that the Best Defense Against Ransomware is a Good Backup. So hopefully your backups are in order - multiple, off-site, and tested. In addition to your internal processes for getting your organization back online, the HHS just issued the following guidance for reporting ransomware incidents and obtaining guidance. If  your organization is the victim of a ransomware attack, HHS recommends the following steps: Please contact your FBI Field Office ...

Missing the HIPAA Target – Part 4

In my first blog of this series, I stated that the intent of HIPAA was not to make you an expert on regulations, but to guide you to be risk management proficient, which is the ability to recognize threats and risks to your practice and manage them to eliminate or minimize their impact.  The next installment was accountability; taking ownership and delivering verifiable results.  This was followed by the importance of training.  What is the next? Well, you need to know how to identify risks and th ...

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