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Application Security

7/24/2018
11:00 AM

7 Ways to Better Secure Electronic Health Records

Healthcare data is prime targets for hackers. What can healthcare organizations do to better protect all of that sensitive information?
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Perform Regular Risk Assessments
No matter how static the practice, EHR exists in a constantly evolving environment. Whether it's changing operating systems, new equipment, new patients, or new suppliers, things change, and the risks associated with those things change, too.
Risk assessments performed at least annually should be part of any health practice security regimen. This might include a HIPAA audit, though that just focuses on privacy and is not a substitute for a full risk assessment. If a health organization is too small to afford its own team for risk assessment, it should hire outside consultants and make sure that the risk assessment includes both internal and external factors, based in  process and technology.
Finally, the organization must not let the fragile egos of anyone on staff prevent it from honestly assessing the risks of the activities they are involved in. Risk comes bearing many different academic degrees.
(Image: Andrey_Popov VIA SHUTTERSTOCK)

Perform Regular Risk Assessments

No matter how static the practice, EHR exists in a constantly evolving environment. Whether it's changing operating systems, new equipment, new patients, or new suppliers, things change, and the risks associated with those things change, too.

Risk assessments performed at least annually should be part of any health practice security regimen. This might include a HIPAA audit, though that just focuses on privacy and is not a substitute for a full risk assessment. If a health organization is too small to afford its own team for risk assessment, it should hire outside consultants and make sure that the risk assessment includes both internal and external factors, based in process and technology.

Finally, the organization must not let the fragile egos of anyone on staff prevent it from honestly assessing the risks of the activities they are involved in. Risk comes bearing many different academic degrees.

(Image: Andrey_Popov VIA SHUTTERSTOCK)

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tdsan
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tdsan,
User Rank: Ninja
7/26/2018 | 3:06:35 PM
Re: The BEST way to secure electronic health records
I agree with the first person who commented on the article (patch fanatic) but there is something flawing with out thinking because the hacks are still occuring, even though the numbers are down, it is still happening. I do think there are a few things that we need to follow that most organizations don't do:

→ Training needs to be put at the forftont, we need to evaluate the talent we have on staff on a consistent basis

→ Firewalls, routers, switches and other network gear needs to be follow the NSA security guidelines and framework - https://www.vmguru.com/2017/04/sizing-your-vmware-infrastructure/ (we need to add to this guideline and continue to test so we can push the envelope (or at least get close)

→ We really need to remove IPv4 from the mix of solutions and move to an IPv6 (pure) environment

→ We need to have a moc setup where we pay someone to hack the environment and we test the people there by putting them into a scenario

→ Application programming methodologies need to be reviewed by qualified hackers who have a deveopment background

→ We need to employ machine learning in the mix of products where the technology is always checking to see who is accessing what and reporting or even thwarting it

→ We need to automate the pentesting process but tailor it to our needs, get it to the point that the vulnerabilities can be mitigating by a autonomic programming change

→ We need to prioritize the threats or vulnerabilities, schedule weekend schedule patch and system updates to ensure the systems meet a certain severity level (sev1-5) and if the sev level is reviewed by outside vendor (reputable)

→ Implement next generation firewalls, endpoint monitoring, NMS, HIDS, NIDS, Zone/Layering and application integration without our existing security tools

→ We need a protocol monitoring device that identifies and baselines relationships between systems and applications, if there is an outside presence, then the system needs to tell us

→ Move pertinent data to zone 0, do not install DB on Web applications (separation of duties) and only allow data to write after a cleansing or holding area (similar to ACH) to ensure the data has not been compromised

→ If multiple records have been extracted by an outside source (Database), there needs to be a warning and action to go along with this potential threat, or at least after 10 records, then something needs to stop the data extraction (notification or autonomic stoppage)

→ If we are not doing business with a specific country, then block those countries that are not in our purvey using ACLs, NGFW with Country blocking capability

→ DNS needs to be configured with DNSSEC using specific keys that are stored in a safe place and only allow queries (recursive) to be done by systems that are internal, anything from the outside trying to access and perform lookups internally with outside IP addresses need to be thwarted

There are other things but this all I can think of right now.

Todd
paul.dittrich
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paul.dittrich,
User Rank: Strategist
7/24/2018 | 3:36:35 PM
The BEST way to secure electronic health records
My #1 suggestion:

Be an absolutely merciless fanatic about patching and updating your software.  All of it.  Every day.  On every device you own.

The suggestions in the column are certainly valid but some of them require external experts and/or a higher level of technical skill than simply updating existing software.  IMO, keeping all software 100% up-to-date is the single most important security measure for just about every organization.
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