Ransomware is a REAL threat…

By: Aris Medical Solutions

HIPAA Ransomware arismedicalsolutions.com

We all hope that we do not fall victim to ransomware, but we need to do more than just hope. All businesses, especially healthcare must have a contingency plan that includes data recovery in the event their systems are encrypted. If you have a backup that is NOT connected to your network, your downtime will be minimal. Keep in mind, you may need to go through the breach notification process based on your state and federal HIPAA law.

A Michigan ENT and Hearing practice refused to pay $6,500 in ransom and the hackers wiped their systems. With no chance of recovering this data, they chose to close the practice.
Most recently, a California Medical Practice was unable to recover their data after ransomware encrypted their systems including their backups. As a result, they will close their practice December 17, 2019.
I could keep adding to the list, but I would rather educate you on how to avoid this!

Best practice is of course to PREVENT ransomware in the first place. This starts with a solid network security program and education for your workforce. Most malware is introduced by an unsuspecting employee. Truly, one click of a mouse can cause a tumbling effect leading to the loss of your business. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but most small to medium sized organizations that suffer a data breach do not survive.

Healthcare is a major target, in fact, 71% of ransomware attacks are towards small to medium sized practices since they do not have adequate network security in place.

  1. Your first line of defense is an enterprise version firewall device. This means, do not purchase one that has parental controls!
  2. Second, have a network security specialist set up your firewall and set custom security controls. It is fairly simple to set up a “network”, but it takes someone who truly understands network security to secure your network. This includes computers, servers, access points, etc.
  3. Depending on the size of your organization, you may need to set up an onsite server as a domain controller. Once this is in place, all users are authenticated through the domain. Security permissions can be set all at once and can’t be changed by the users.
  4. Phishing education for all employees including providers, and management. Business email addresses are targeted typically between Tuesday and Thursday according to the analysis from Barracuda. Phishing emails impersonate a trusted entity, they try to get the recipients to click on the links or attachments, share account credentials, and typically have some sort of urgency associated with the email. These emails often bypass traditional email security since they originate from reputable senders.
  5. Ensuring you have business associate agreements in place before releasing any PHI. This will protect you from fines and penalties in the event they have a data breach. It is advisable to carry cyber-liability insurance. If your business associate causes a data breach, it will still be your responsibility to go through the breach notification process. Best practice is to require your business associate to carry cyber liability as well.
  6. Physical security is often overlooked when we talk about data security. Portable devices need to be secured when left unattended. Printers and fax machines should not be located where they can be accessed by an unauthorized person. Servers should be in a locked room or cabinet. Computers should not be located near exits. Keeping an up to date inventory list and reviewing it regularly is critical in knowing if anything is missing. Lastly, a security system that has cameras and access logs is recommended.
  7. Organizations that have well defined policies and procedures are less likely to have a data breach. Employees are educated on what they can and cannot do with business equipment. Knowing what to do in the event of a security incident can actually STOP a data breach from becoming a major breach. Plus, most large fines are because the organization did NOT have a policy or plan in place. Just make sure you have read and dated them!

Remember HIPAA is not a once and done process, as technology changes and employees come and go, you need to keep track and update accordingly. Use your Risk Management Plan to track your progress! Let us know if you need any help with implementation.

If you would like more information, contact us at 877.659.2467 or complete the contact us form.

“Simplifying HIPAA through Partnership, Education, and Support”

How to protect yourself from Ransomware


By Aris Medical Solutions


This is actually easier said than done. However, there are some simple tips you can use to help guard yourself against this cyber warfare.

First of all let’s discuss what is Ransomware and why are these criminals doing this?
Ransomware is when an invader takes over your computer and encrypts your data and will not release it until you pay a “ransom”. Simply put, they do this to make money and, since it is a lucrative business, we do not see it going away anytime soon. With healthcare being such a popular target, you must be vigilant at all times.

Next, there are malicious malware and viruses that are used just want to be mean. Although I am not a fan of bumper stickers, I do like the one that says “Mean People Suck”. These criminals are the meanest of the mean. They don’t even give you the opportunity to pay a ransom. They just encrypt your data or delete it. I could go on and on explaining how all of this works, but instead let’s just talk about how to prevent this from happening in the first place!

Rule #1
Read the email carefully. More than likely you can spot misspelled words or subtle clues that the email is not authentic. Look closely at the email address. At a quick glance it may look like a legitimate email address. It will start with a prefix other than the original address and may even include a period (.) in a separate place. I have said this many times…rather than clicking on links or attachments in your email, open your browser and go to that particular website instead.

Rule #2
Again, do not EVER click on an attachment in an email that claims to have important information that you must act on immediately. For example:

  1. FedEx (UPS, USPS) was not able to deliver your package
  2. Your friend liked your post on Facebook, click to read more (some of these are true but it is best to open your browser and go to Facebook)
  3. A message about your credit card or bank account.
    There are many variations to these emails. Just exercise caution when opening your mail even from people you know. Their email account may have been hacked and being used to distribute the virus.

Rule #3
Keep a backup of any and all data that you want or need. Once the backup is created, disconnect it from your computer or network. If your system is ever violated, your backup will not be affected. Then you can wipe your system clean and restore your data.

Having a good anti-virus and anti-malware installed on your system are a necessity today, but it still only takes one click of a mouse to bring your network down because the software developers have to identify the problem before they can send out an update. Criminals are creating hundreds if not thousands of new viruses daily! Continual education for you and your staff is a must!

For more information on how Aris Medical Solutions can help your organization with HIPAA Compliance and Protecting your Practice call 877.659.2467 or click here to contact us.

“Protecting Organizations through Partnership, Education, and Support”

Patient Data is a Hot Commodity


By Aris Medical Solutions


Health care organizations are now a primary target since they are the custodians of patient data and a plethora of information. The reason patient information is sought after so much is because it can be sold on the black market for a decent price. Social Security Numbers also have a longer shelf life unlike credit card numbers. Therefore it is imperative that any company or person that is involved with healthcare data do what they can to protect their computers and/or network.

Criminals are diligent in trying to gain access to these valuable databases. They can get into your network through social engineering, malware, and mobile devices to name a few. Sadly, most attacks go undetected for months, sometimes even a year unless it is ransomware when you are “notified” immediately!

Under the Security Rule, all entities that work with Protected Health Information are required to conduct a Risk Analysis to uncover any potential vulnerabilities. Then they must create a Risk Management plan to correct those deficiencies. Although most of the “technical” standards are addressable and not required, this does not mean optional. All covered entities and business associates must have reasonable and appropriate safeguards in place to protect their data. Aside from your normal IT services, we believe it will only be a matter of time before network security audits will become mandatory. Keep in mind your Policies and Procedures are still the backbone of HIPAA Compliance.

So what can you do to protect your data and your organization?

  1. Conduct a security risk analysis
  2. Mitigate the vulnerabilities that are discovered
  3. Request a third party network security audit
  4. Request documentation that your business associates are HIPAA Compliant
  5. Continual EDUCATION!

These are just some of the basics that you should implement. For more information on how Aris Medical Solutions can help your organization with HIPAA Compliance and Protecting your Data call 877.659.2467 or click here to contact us.

“Protecting Organizations through Partnership, Education, and Support”

Healthcare is a huge target!


By Aris Medical Solutions


Things may seem wonderful since a new year is beginning; please don’t forget that many things remain the same.

For instance…
Healthcare is targeted in many ways. Do your employees know how to spot a phishing email or a potential virus? Most phishing expeditions and viruses are delivered right to your inbox! Did you know that nearly 90% of all ransomware attacks were on healthcare? A new report by Check Point software’s researchers states that Ransomware plague earns $2 million, while only 0.3% victims pay up. With this much money that is being made, more and more criminals are creating Ransomware. What would you do if one of your employees clicked on a link and downloaded a virus or your system was encrypted by ransomware?

Today, we are extremely busy and the criminals know this. It is so easy to spoof another company’s logo and create a phishing email or worse; a ransomware infection. What can you do? First and foremost you must continually educate your staff on what to look for and how to avoid making costly mistakes.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  1. Emails that claim your account has been compromised and you need to call a toll free number immediately. Lookup the number for the company and call them on that number and not the number supplied in the email. If you call the number that is supplied, either you will to talk to a real criminal and they try to get information from you or your credit card number. The other way is you get stuck in a voicemail holding pattern and then your number is programmed in and they call you back and try the same scam.
  2. Emails that claim your package (FEDEx / UPS / USPS) or payment (IRS / Bank / Credit Card) was not delivered, and you need to click on an attachment or a link.Open your browser and go directly to the company’s website, do not click on anything in the email.
  3. Phone call that advises you there is new software upgrade or virus and offers a free scan on your computer. Do not permit anyone access to your computer unless they have been verified by the company they work for and you know who they are.
  4. Fake apps that look like the real stores. Watch for apps that do not have a lot of reviews or bad reviews. Do not click on a link to download an app, go to the app store. Even then be careful, although Apple and Google use algorithms to detect, some have slipped through! Do not give out too much information and try to avoid adding any credit card numbers to apps. Read the permissions on all apps before downloading. If it is asking for more than is needed, do not download even though it sounds like a great app. Many apps contain malware to steal your information. If you connect your portable device to your office network, it can steal information from there as well.

Remember, most scams have a sense of urgency to prevent a negative consequence. Also, as the old saying goes… if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always think before you react!
For more information on how Aris Medical Solutions can help your organization with HIPAA Compliance and Protecting your Data call 877.659.2467 or click here to contact us.

“Protecting Organizations through Partnership, Education, and Support”

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