Archive for the ‘Personal Health Information’ category

Privacy and Security for Americans

May 12th, 2017

A Recent survey conducted by AnchorFree shows that more than eighty percent of Americans are worried about online privacy and security as compared to previous year.

The bill is passed which allowed companies to collect personal data without permission through ISPs. Ninety-five percent of respondents are concerned about this bill. More than fifty percent people are looking to increase their security for personal data.

The survey also shows that more than 70 percent are employing more ways to protect their data as compared to previous year.

“Our survey finds that the majority of consumers are concerned in the aftermath of the Federal Communications Commission’s rollback of Internet privacy protections,” AnchorFree founder and CEO David Gorodyansky said in a statement.

“As more connected devices emerge and threats to Internet freedom persist, it’s imperative for Americans to learn about online privacy protection options and take personal responsibility for safeguarding their health, wealth and family,” Gorodyansky added. “They otherwise risk the misuse of this data by hackers and third party companies.”

Another survey by TeleSign survey shows that thirty-one percent of consumers have their online life worth of $100,000 or more. Fifty percent believe that businesses are primarily responsible for security.

“Companies make plenty of money with the time and money we invest in them and they should do the same to protect our accounts and personal identity,” one survey respondent said.

A survey conducted by Lawless Research shows that 51 percent faced data breach in the previous year. Forty-two percent suffered financial loss. One-third of the respondents stopped doing business with that companies.

Almost 61 percent changed their password after it was compromised. Seventy percent said that they use reused passwords.

Another survey conducted by EyeVerify mentioned that eighty-six percent believes that biometrics makes logging in apps easier. Also, seventy percent believe mobile apps are more secure with biometrics authentication.

“Most people use some form of biometrics every day, but they want more opportunities to use it to make their lives easier and more secure,” EyeVerify CEO and founder Toby Rush said in a statement.

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Corporate Security Survey

May 10th, 2017

Bromium conducted a survey of 210 security professionals which showed that thirty-five percent have bypassed their own corporate security one way or the other. Ten percent have paid a ransom or hid a breach without letting the team know.

“While we expect employees to find workarounds to corporate security, we don’t expect it from the very people overseeing the operation,” Bromium co-founder and CTO Simon Crosby said in a statement. “Security professionals go to great lengths to protect their companies, but to learn that their decisions don’t protect the business is frankly rather shocking.”

“To find from their own admission that security pros have actually paid ransoms or hidden breaches speak to the human factor in cyber security,” Crosby added.

Another survey conducted by ESET shows that one-third respondents among 400 have not received any form of cyber security training at their organization.

A recent ESET survey of over 400 U.S. adults found that third of respondents hadn’t received any form of cyber security training at their organization. Sixty-two percent said they don’t receive recurring cyber security training.

Participants also provided insights about the cyber security knowledge gaps which includes as below –

Email Threats – 30%

Protecting Mobile Devices – 30%

Smart Device – 29%

Strong Passwords – 16%

A survey conducted by MediaPro shows that seventy percent of cybersecurity risks or novices can be reduced with increased awareness. The study also shows that respondents have less knowledge of reporting, identifying personal information, working remotely, cloud computing, and acceptable use of social media.

“The results of this survey strongly suggest retailers need to rethink cyber security and data privacy as matters of overall risk management, not just check-the-box compliance based on PCI standards alone,” the MediaPro report states. “Retailers limit their employee education to PCI training at their own risk, as threats to an organization’s financial and reputational well-being exist beyond the typical coverage of this training.”

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Verizon Survey

May 5th, 2017

Verizon mentioned that increase in the propriety research, prototypes, and amounts of confidential personal data is the major factor for the rise in the phishing attack. It also mentioned that there is an increase in 50 percent in the attacks last year.

Almost 95% of the attacks include the phishing technique of software installation on the user device. There is also rise in getting the information by pretending someone else. These are called pretexting attacks. Eighty-eight percent of pretexting attacks originated from emails.

Many smaller organizations also suffered a data breach. Sixty-one percent of breach occurred at the companies having less than 1000 employees.

“Cyber-attacks targeting the human factor are still a major issue,” Verizon Enterprise Solutions Global Security Services Executive Director Bryan Sartin said in a statement. “Cybercriminals concentrate on four key drivers of human behaviour to encourage individuals to disclose information: eagerness, distraction, curiosity and uncertainty. And as our report shows, it is working, with a significant increase in both phishing and pretexting this year.”

Verizon mentioned that three quarters of the breaches was caused by outsider. Almost 51% involves criminal groups.

Finance sector was the major area where attacker focused. Almost 24% attacks counted for this sector. Healthcare involves 15% of data breaches.

“The cybercrime data for each industry varies dramatically,” Sartin explained. “It is only by understanding the fundamental workings of each vertical that you can appreciate the cyber security challenges they face and recommend appropriate actions.”

Survey also found out that 73% percent of the attacks are financially motivated.

“Social engineering is a common means for cybercriminals to establish a foothold,” report authors warned. “And employees are making this easy by using easy-to-guess passwords. Users, and even IT departments are even often guilty of not changing the default passwords that devices come with, and can easily be looked up online.”

The report author at Verizon mentioned that encryption and two-factor authentication also help to limit the damage.

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements. The implemented encryption is powered by CheckPoint and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.

Data breach trends in 2016

April 5th, 2017

As per the IBM report, data breach increased 566 percent in 2016 from 600 million to more than 4 billion. The report also mentioned that healthcare in no longer the most attacked sector. Most of the attack was carried out on financial services industry.

In 2016, 12 million records were affected in healthcare. In previous year, the breach was 100 million records which counts to eighty eight percent drop. IBM surveyed 8000 security clients in 100 countries.

IBM Security Vice President of Threat Intelligence Caleb Barlow mentioned that the cyber attacks was carried out with innovative techniques.

“While the volume of records compromised last year reached historic highs, we see this shift to unstructured data as a seminal moment,” Barlow said in a statement. “The value of structured data to cyber-criminals is beginning to wane as the supply outstrips the demand. Unstructured data is big-game hunting for hackers and we expect to see them monetize it this year in new ways.”

IBM mentioned that for ransomware attacks, 70 percent of the companies paid more that $10,000 to regain the access to data. According to the FBI, cyber-criminals were paid $209 million in first three months of 2016.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise with 400 percent increase. In the coming time healthcare will do many reforms which includes increase in internet of things (IoT) technology. This will increase the attacks.

“Retail and financial services have battened down their hatches,” IDC Health Insights Research President Lynne Dunbrack told HealthITSecurity.com in a 2016 interview. “Now the cyber criminals might still be nipping at those heels, but they are looking at other targets, healthcare being one of them.”

CynergisTek Vice President Dan Berger mentioned that attacks against healthcare are carried out with sophistication.

“The dramatic increase in hacking attacks in 2016, coupled with the large number of patient records compromised in those incidents, points to a pressing need for providers to take a much more proactive and comprehensive approach to protecting their information assets in 2017 and beyond,” Berger stated.

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Insider security breach at KY

April 2nd, 2017

Kentucky-based Med Center Health mentioned that a former employee accessed certain patient billing information without permission. As per the reports, facility found out that on two instances the person “obtained certain billing information by creating the appearance that they needed the information to carry out their job duties for Med Center Health.”

“The evidence we have gathered to date suggests that the former employee intended to use these records to assist in the development of a computer-based tool for an outside business interest which had never been disclosed to Med Center Health officials,” Med Center Health explained in its letter, signed by CEO Connie Smith.

Person accessed the data and copied it on encrypted CD and encrypted USB drive. Facility mentioned that the data is not related to work responsibilities of the employee. Affected information included Social Security numbers, health insurance information, diagnoses and procedure codes, and charges for medical services. Patients medical records were not copied.

Patients who were treated at The Medical Center Bowling Green, The Medical Center Scottsville, The Medical Center Franklin, Commonwealth Regional Specialty Hospital, Cal Turner Rehab and Specialty Care and Medical Center EMS between 2011 and 2014 got impacted.

Law enforcement asked the facility to delay its data breach notification process.

“We sincerely apologize for any concern and inconvenience this incident may cause you,” the letter read. “We continue to review the incident and to take steps aimed at preventing similar actions in the future. Those actions include re-enforcing education with our staff regarding our strict policies and procedures in maintaining the confidentiality of patient information.”

Facility did not mention the number of individuals affected. It has established a dedicated call center to answer patients’ queries.

As per the statement, “We are offering credit monitoring and identity protection services to eligible patients and enrollment instructions are contained in the letters sent to the patients. We also recommend that you review the explanation of benefits that you receive from your health insurer. If you see services that you did not receive, please contact your health insurer immediately.”

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements. The implemented encryption is powered by CheckPoint and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.

Data breach at UNC

March 31st, 2017

University of North Carolina Health Care recently suffered data breach. It is notifying patients of a potential data breach at two UNC Health Care obstetric clinics. The incident involved PHI of 1,300 prenatal patients. The data was transmitted to local county health departments inadvertently.

Data breach involved patients who completed Pregnancy Home Risk Screening Forms at their clinical visits between April 2014 and February 2017 at the Women’s Clinic at N.C. Women’s Hospital and UNC Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Rex.

“If you completed a Pregnancy Home Risk Screening Form, it may have included information about you, such as demographic information (like your name and address), your race and ethnicity, your Social Security number, information about your physical and mental health, sexually transmitted diseases, your HIV status, smoking, drug and alcohol use, and medical diagnosis information related to your pregnancy and any prior pregnancies,” UNC Health Care said in the notification letter.

UNC Health Care after the incident set up a call center. It has also changed/modified its process for submitting patient pregnancy forms. The new provision will ensure eligible patients forms for Medicaid are sent to county health departments. Staff is trained to handle new procedure.

UNC has also asked all county health departments to delete the electronic health information on non-Medicaid patients from their systems.

As per the statement:

“UNC Health Care is committed to providing its patients with superior health care services and takes very seriously its obligation to protect the privacy of patients’ medical information. While UNC Health Care does not believe that any of the patients will be at financial risk as a result of the release any of this information to county health departments, UNC Health Care included in the letters a number of options available to patients for monitoring and reviewing their credit reports and has offered fraud resolution services for any patient who suffers from identity theft as a result of this incident, free of charge.”

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Data breach due to computer virus

March 29th, 2017

Lane Community College (LCC) health clinic recently announced data breach when one of its technician  found a computer virus in the system. The incident has affected PHI of some patients.

As per the reports, virus was transmitting the names, addresses, phone numbers, diagnoses, and Social Security numbers to unidentified third party almost for a year. Facility has notified potentially impacted patients.

“We have no evidence that any of the information was transmitted (from LCC), but there’s the possibility,” LCC Vice President of College Services Brian Kelly said in a statement to the Register-Guard.

Facility conducted internal investigation. It checked 20 other computers at the health clinic. It concluded that only computer was infected with virus. The incident has affected 2,500 individuals.

LCC has advised patients to monitor their bank accounts. Suspicious activity or any threat should be reported to the police. The college health clinic also asked patients to report data breach to their banks, credit bureaus, and credit card companies.

July 2016 HIPPA Journal mentioned that, “Cyberattacks on healthcare organizations are now a fact of life.”

OCR breach portal do not include all the data breaches that are happening around. But the current breach reports gives us the idea of pattern –

48 data breaches were reported as unauthorized access

43 data breaches were attributed to hacking or network server incidents

37 breaches were caused by the loss or theft of devices used to store ePHI or the loss/theft of physical records

4 breaches were due to the improper disposal of records

Stolen records or exposed data includes pattern as below:

60% were due to hacking (2,703,961 records)

78% were due to loss/theft (1,342,125 records)

6% were the result of unauthorized access or disclosure (342,748 records)

63% were the result of improper disposal (118,594 records)

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Data breaches due to unauthorized access

March 23rd, 2017

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System recently announced data breach which affected over 2,700 patients. The incident occurred due to unauthorized access over a three-year period between January 3, 2014 and January 10, 2017.

Facility conducted investigation which found out that employees of community physician groups, and an employee of a contracted vendor had access to patient records without proper explanation. Concerned employees are terminated.

“As part of the health system’s partnership with community physicians, access is provided to their practices so they can view the medical records of their patients who are referred to the VCU Health System for care and treatment. Access also is provided to certain contracted vendors who provide medical equipment to patients for continuity of care at discharge from the hospital.”

Affected information included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, medical record numbers, health care providers, visit dates and Social Security numbers.

Facility is providing one year of free credit monitoring.

Second incident involves Tarleton Medical who announced data breach recently. Incident involves unauthorized access of a data server containing PHI from patient medical records.

Affected information included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and healthcare claims information.

Facility did not mention number of individuals affected. As per the OCR reporting tool, incident affected 3,929 individuals.

“We have taken steps to enhance the security of TM patient information to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” the healthcare organization explained in its notification letter.

Tarleton Medical contacted FBI. It is also offering patients free access to a credit monitoring service for one year.

As per the statement, it advised patients to follow below guidelines:

You can follow the recommendations on the following page to protect your personal information. You can also contact ID Experts with any questions Please note that the deadline to enroll is three months following the date of this letter. To receive the aforementioned services, you must be over the age of 18, have established credit in the U.S., have a Social Security number in your name, and have a U.S. residential address associated with your credit file. Your services start on the date that you enroll in the services and can be used at any time thereafter for 12 months following  enrollment.

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements. The implemented encryption is powered by CheckPoint and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.

Summit Reinsurances Services announces data breach

March 20th, 2017

Summit Reinsurance Services, Inc., recently suffered data breach when it became aware of a ransomware attack on its server. Patient PHI was present was involved in the incident. Facility immediately conducted Investigation. It mentioned that an unauthorized user accessed the server during March 13, 2016.

Affected information included Social Security numbers, health insurance information, provider names, and claim-focused medical records containing diagnoses and clinical information.

Facility didn’t mention the number of affected patients. Also, there is no information or evidence of any misuse of information. It is providing information about ways of protecting against identity theft and fraud. One year of free credit monitoring and identity restoration is provided.

As per the statement:

  • Facility is asking patients to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud. Review of account statements should be done. Also, credit reports and explanation of benefits forms should be monitored for suspicious activity.
  • Three major credit bureaus can be reached directly to request a free copy of credit report.
  • Fraud alerts can be placed on the files that will alert affected patients before granting credit. But it will delay ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies identity.
  • Security freeze on credit reports can be placed. Once this is activated, credit bureau can’t release consumer’s credit report without the consumer’s written authorization. This facility will affect customers request for new loans, credit mortgages, employment, housing, or other services.

“In order to request a security freeze, you will need to supply your full name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, current address, all addresses for up to five previous years, email address, a copy of your state identification card or driver’s license, and a copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, or other statement proving residence.”

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

Emails sent to unintended recipient

March 13th, 2017

Orange County Global Medical Center recently suffered data breach which involved some of its patients. As per the reports, an employee emailed an Orange County Global statistical report to an wrong recipient.

“We take this matter, and the security and privacy of your information, very seriously,” explained the letter, a copy of which was posted on the California Office of Attorney General. “Since the incident occurred, and in addition to instructing the inadvertent recipient to delete the information, we have implemented additional protocols for sending information, reviewed our policies and procedures, and provided additional training to staff.”

Facility came to know about the incident the same day. It reached out to the recipient asking him to immediately and permanently delete the email and related information from his email account.

Affected information included patient treatment and diagnoses information, medical record numbers, dates of birth, treatment dates, and names.

Orange County Global Medical Center mentioned that patient Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, health insurance information, or financial account information were not affected in the incident. It didn’t mentioned the number of patients affected by the incident. It is providing free access to identity monitoring and restoration services for one year to affected patients.

As per the statement:

“If you believe there was fraudulent use of your information as a result of this incident and would like to discuss how you may be able to resolve those issues, please reach out to an Experian agent. If, after discussing your situation with an agent, it is determined that identity restoration support is needed then an Experian Identity Restoration agent is available to work with you to investigate and resolve each incident of fraud that occurred from the date of the incident.”

Facility has asked affected patients to contact Experian Identity Works for any fraud issues. One can also enroll for –

  • Internet Surveillance
  • Identity Restoration
  • Experian IdentityWorks ExtendCARET
  • $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance

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