It is Time for Us to Take Control of Our Data!

The EquiFax breach really has me angry.  Mostly because I have no control over any aspect of this mess.  EquiFax scoops up data on all of us without our consent.  They seem unaccountable and untouchable.   With a last name like mine, I’ve had many opportunities to dispute incorrect data on my credit reports, which is always time consuming and irritating.  They make it known how unimportant you are and assume you are “guilty” unless you prove otherwise.  They collect data on all the people in th ...

Could this breach have been prevented? – A new series

Could this breach have been prevented? – A new series One of the first lessons of process improvement is that preventing errors is much less expensive and time-consuming than remedying the damage after the fact. The same is true for an information breach. The time and cost for installing new software, training staff members, and reinforcing policies and procedures pales in comparison to cleaning up the damage of an information privacy or security breach. Recent headlines of multi-million-dollar ...

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 ...

Think you can take your time when breached? Think Again!

In January of this year, the HHS Office of Civil Rights levied a $475,000 fine against Presence Health for taking too long to notify their patients - as well as the OCR - after discovering the breach of PHI (protected health information). The incident occurred in October 2013 when Presence Health, based in Illinois, discovered that hundreds of physical documents containing patient names, birth dates, medical record numbers, and surgery details for 836 patients were missing.  They did not report the breach ...

What happens when someone submits a HIPAA complaint?

You may not realize how easy it is for someone to submit a complaint about your organization. However, if you are not prepared, what happens after that submission is not something you will soon forget! This is why HIPAA compliance must be a culture and not just a piece of paper. While someone WILL submit a complaint against you at some point, if you have a culture of compliance in place, there should be little to no effect on your business. If you just run through a simplified checklist once a year, howeve ...

Focus on Security: In plain sight

Sometimes we tend to focus strictly on the technical side of security and compliance and fail to notice the very important issues hiding in plain sight. While a hacker breaking into your network and stealing ePHI is the threat that is being talked about the most, it is sometimes the overlooked old-fashioned threats that present the greater risk. Think about how many times a patient record has been sitting somewhere and how long does it actually take for someone to pick it up and walk off? What about allo ...

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 ...

HIPAA – Standard Operations for Business

HIPAA gets a bad rap - and deservedly so. However, most of that bad rap is because it is set up in a typical government fashion that is hard to understand and make sense of. When you look at the HIPAA laws and guidelines, it is not long before you become more perplexed than you were before. However, once you get past the government's idea of light reading, or by using our CompassDB tool which translates it into a humanly readable language, you realize that the HIPAA guidelines are not really all that cu ...

Best Defense Against Ransomware is a Good Backup

By now, most have heard or been affected by the WannaCry ransomware that has spread to over 150 countries at last count. The WannaCry ransomware started taking over users' files on Friday, demanding $300 to restore access. Hundreds of thousands of computers have been affected so far. Computer giant Microsoft said the attack should serve as a wake-up call. The first line of defense in this is always having a properly maintained firewall both on your network and on each individual computer system. Ho ...

The greatest threat comes from within

Sometimes it is easy to forget that the greatest threat is from within. In today’s focus on cyber-security world, we tend to focus on keeping people out of our network as a primary method to keep our sensitive data, such as ePHI, safe. While that is incredibly important, we should make sure not to overlook the threat posed by those we do grant access. How much of a threat is it? Well, roughly half of all attacks originate from inside the company - and not all are with malicious intent. Part of the prob ...

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