Cyber Security: Have you hardened your systems?

We perform HIPAA Risk Assessments (Security Risk Analysis) for very small practices to large healthcare organizations, plus business associates that include software, big data, and marketing companies.  We know the focus of the assessment needs to be security; therefore, we run an industry standard (NIST based) scan checking computers for HIPAA compliance.  (NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology) Our findings show that the average covered entity is about 15% compliant and the ...

One small step for man, one giant leap for privacy!

“To err is human”… a pretty obvious statement. So if we all know we are going to make mistakes, why not add an extra level of security to mitigate the effects of the mistake? I am sure we have all been in the predicament of sending John C. an email, but when we clicked on our contacts list we accidentally sent it to John B. I have conversations constantly with clients and friends about encrypting their email to protect themselves and often get the same set of questions… “Isn’t that e ...

HIMSS17 – OCR’s Expectations for HIPAA Compliance

Lessons Learned at HIMSS17 The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) made it clear at HIMSS17 - it’s time for the healthcare industry to take action NOW.  Here are the top messages we heard across multiple presentations by HHS (OCR, CMS), FDA, FTC, law firms, and cyber security firms. The following were made very clear to attendees.  Please note, these are not all from HHS, some were heard multiple times from various sources.  The point is, learn and take action. Ignorance of the HIPAA law is no e ...

HIPAA: Reducing Your Liabilities

As we perform more Security Risk Analyses, (we actually do privacy and security risk assessments), we continue to hear doctors, executives, and office managers consider HIPAA an onerous burden.  They tend to see it as painful compliance overhead and a total waste of time.  But, that is a very dangerous view of HIPAA compliance. HIPAA compliance is actually attempting to provide a guide for the healthcare industry to operate their business so they REDUCE LIABILITIES.  It reduces the likelihood of h ...

Why Physicians should never use public Wi-Fi

We all enjoy the convenience of being somewhere, like a coffee shop, airport, hotel room, or lobby of a building waiting, and hopping on the free Wi-Fi to catch up on some work. Unfortunately, all healthcare workers should avoid free Wi-Fi at all costs.  It is very important to realize that if you can access the free Wi-Fi, so can anyone else. They can even leave devices behind that stay on the Wi-Fi, breach other systems and transmit the data back to their "home" base.  If you share a local Wi-Fi net ...

Advocate Health Care Fined $5.5 Million for HIPAA Violations

Advocate Health Care Network, of Illinois, reported three breaches in 2013.  Four desktop computers containing approximately four million patients' ePHI.    The OCR stated "This significant settlement, the largest to-date against a single entity, is a result of the extent and duration of the alleged noncompliance (dating back to the inception of the Security Rule in some instances), the involvement of the State Attorney General in a corresponding investigation, and the large number of individuals wh ...

Focus on Security: Printer Security

We all know we need to improve our computer and network security.  But we often forget that printers are now smart and connected.  Basically, they're another computer on the network. Therefore, we all need to take notice and insure we improve security on our printers.  The exact steps will vary depending on the brand, size, complexity, connection type and features of each printer.  But, below are several steps you can take to get started. Network - secure it Make sure you have a strong password on ...

HHS Releases New Guidance on Ransomware

One of the top newsmakers of 2016 has been ransomware.  During the first half of this year, ransomware grew 300% to 4,000 daily attacks! But several high profile attacks of hospitals really put it in the spotlight.  Although it has been around for several decades, in the past 4 years, Russian groups have further developed its capabilities and propagated its use worldwide. The dark web or darknet also significantly contributed to the increase in ransomware attacks due to its black market for such products. ...

HIPAA Crossword Puzzle

HIPAA Crossword Puzzle Third Rock We thought it might be good to have you learn more about HIPAA through a challenging crossword puzzle. We hope you enjoy completing the puzzle and learn a little about HIPAA in the process.  You can click the image below to download the PDF version and print it off. Answers Across: 2. PHI 3. backups 5. ice cream 6. HIPAA 8. risk assessment 10. covered entities 12. disaster recovery 15. PII 17. cyber breach 20. cyber security 21. audit 22. lemonade ...

OCR Levies fine for lack of business associate agreements

$1.55 million settlement and remediation  According to the HHS Office of Civil Rights, North Memorial Health Care of Minnesota failed to complete a security risk assessment or risk analysis nor did it have compliant business associate agreements.  The OCR considers these major cornerstones of HIPAA compliance.  The important thing to understand about the security risk analysis is that it now focuses on IT infrastructure.  Which means you must make sure you perform several key steps in the risk assessme ...

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