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Posts Tagged ‘HIPAA’

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With Ransomware On The Rise What Can You Do To Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attack

June 20, 2016

The recent attacks on hospitals across the world affecting hundreds of thousands patients information globally obtained by hackers emphasize the scale of the issue. The ever rising trend of cyber-attacks on healthcare with ransomware happens mainly through phishing email and the reason being is underestimated importance of cybersecurity measures to be taken in the healthcare industry.
In the instance of Wyoming Medical Centre cyber-attack through email scam the damage involved exposure of nearly 3,300 patient’s sensitive information. The attack performed through legitimate looking phishing email to which employee have responded, and thus letting hackers an access to Hospital network enabled them to obtain patients personal information as names, contact details, health insurance details, social security numbers and other sensitive data that may cause harm if landed in wrong hands.
Based on the scenarios of recent attacks on healthcare establishments, InfoSec industry suggests in the average several crucial tips to follow to prevent corporate email network from being a victim of a phishing scam:
1. If you received excel or other files instructing you to enable some options like macros to be able to view the so called “important information” – do not do it.
2. NEVER provide your password to anyone via email
3. If you are a Healthcare Establishment – use only HIPAA compliant email service (ShazzleMD is one of them and provides an easy solution, no password required and works like any other email)
Be suspicious of any email that:
4. Requests personal information.
5. Contains spelling and grammatical errors.
6. Asks you to click on a link.
7. Is unexpected or from a company or organization with whom you do not have a relationship.
If you are suspicious of an email:
8. Do not click on the links provided in the email.
9. Do not open any attachments in the email.
10. Do not provide personal information or financial data.
11. Do forward the email to the HHS Computer Security Incident Response Center (CSIRC) at csirc@hhs.gov and then delete it from your Inbox.
12. Although HHS’ CSIRC undoubtedly does not want a barrage of emails from non-government entity staff reporting potential phishing attacks, a covered entity or business associate should articulate a similar process for staff to follow when a suspicious email is identified.
Be suspicious of any email that:
13. Includes multiple other recipients in the “to” or “cc” fields.
14. Displays a suspicious “from” address, such as a foreign URL for a U.S. company or a Gmail or other “disposable” address for a business sender. However, even when the sender’s address looks legitimate, it can still be “spoofed” or falsified by a malicious sender.
Following the above mentioned tips will increase cyber security of a healthcare network, and not only, from a ransomware attack performed via phishing emails that are increasing with high tempo every month.

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Phishing Attacks Soar in Record-Making Surge

May 26, 2016

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) observed more phishing attacks in the first quarter of 2016 than at any other time in history. According to the APWG’s new Phishing Activity Trends Report, the total number of unique phishing websites observed in Q1 2016 was a record 289,371, with 123,555 of those phishing sites detected in March 2016.
Those quarterly and monthly totals are the highest the APWG has seen since it began tracking and reporting on phishing in 2004.
There was a 250 percent increase in phishing sites between October 2015 and March 2016. “We always see a surge in phishing during the holiday season, but the number of phishing sites kept going up from December into the spring of 2016,” said Greg Aaron, APWG Senior Research Fellow and Vice-President of iThreat Cyber Group. “The sustained increase into 2016 shows phishers launching more sites, and is cause for concern.”
APWG Chairman Dave Jevans said, “Globally, attackers using phishing techniques have become more aggressive in 2016 with keyloggers that have sophisticated tracking components to target specific information and organizations such as retailers and financial institutions that top the list.”
On the heels of this report of record numbers of cybercrime attacks, APWG will be holding its annual general meeting and cybercrime research conference next week in Toronto. There, its global cadre of cybercrime responders, managers and university researchers will be plotting strategies to neutralize the menace of cybercrime, a sprawling threatscape growing seemingly unchecked in scope and virulence in recent years.
In the Q1 Trends Report, APWG found that the Retail / Service sector continued to be the most heavily attacked. APWG member MarkMonitor observed more attacks targeting cloud-based or SAAS companies, which drove significant increases in the Retail/Service sector. Financial and Payment targets were also heavily targeted as usual.
Ransomware continues to be another increasing threat, with APWG members Forcepoint and PandaLabs seeing increasing numbers of ransomware infections in early 2016. According to Carl Leonard, Principal Security Analyst at Forcepoint: “The onslaught of ransomware has not abated in 2016. Ransomware authors exhibited a willingness to adjust their scare tactics and software in Q1 2016 as they sought to scam more end-users. The takeaway is clear – ransomware authors are more determined and aggressive in 2016. End-users should be aware of the danger and take preventative measures.”
APWG co-founder and Secretary General Peter Cassidy reviewing the quarter’s disturbing numbers said, “The threat space continues to expand despite the best efforts of industry, government and law enforcement. It’s clear we have a lot to talk about in Toronto, perhaps broaching some broader resolutions to unify efforts across sectors. After all, what is civilization but the largest conspiracy?”
The full text of the report is available here:
http://docs.apwg.org/reports/apwg_trends_report_q1_2016.pdf
By APWG – Anti-Phishing Working Group
http://www.apwg.org

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The Percentage Of Health Care Data Breaches Due To Criminal Acts Has Risen From 20 to 50 Percent Since 2010

May 16, 2016

The percentage of health care data breaches due to criminals has risen from 20 to 50 percent since 2010, but health care organizations are failing on defense, according to a new study.
On average, the percentage of health care organizations hit by a data breach has stayed steady, in the high 80s and low 90s, according to Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder at Ponemon Institute, which conducted the study, but the number of breaches due to accidentally lost devices has dropped.
Most recently, ransomware and denial-of-service attacks have become top security concerns. These kinds of attacks have the potential to shut down the operations of a health care organization, putting lives at risk.
Ransomware typically encrypts all data, making patient records inaccessible to doctors and nurses.
Denial-of-service attacks shut down the tools and systems used to access those records.
“A lot of these tools now are Internet-facing or are actually in the cloud,” Ponemon explained.
“I think we’re actually in a situation where the bad guys are winning at this point,” said Rick Kam, president and co-founder at ID Experts, which sponsored the report.
One reason is finger pointing, he said. Health care providers point to third-party business associates, such as drug companies and claims processors, while the business associates point the finger back at the health care providers.
“Neither the business associates nor the health care entities are doing their job,” he said. “There’s a small increase in security budgets, but that incremental spending is not keeping up with the threat.”
Another contributing factor, he added, is that the majority of the health care organizations are regional and local hospitals, which are not flush with cash.
Health care organizations understand that they are targets.
More than two-thirds, or 69 percent, said that they are at greater risk than other industries for a data breach.
And there has been some improvements.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they have policies and procedures that are in place to effectively prevent or quickly detect unauthorized patient data access, up from 58 percent in 2015.
And 57 percent said they have the expert personnel to be able to identify and resolve data breaches, up from 53 percent in 2015.
In addition, 71 percent have an incident response plan process in place, with involvement from information technology, information security and compliance, a slight increase from 69 percent in last year’s study.
However, slightly more than half of health care organizations, 52 percent, said that security budgets have stayed the same since last year, and 10 percent said their budgets decreased.

By Maria Korolov

www.csoonline.com

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Health care records frequently targeted by anonymous hackers

May 5, 2016

For 10 days in February one hospital’s records hung in limbo. At Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California, a ransomware attack kept health care records in control of anonymous hackers, until hospital officials paid $17,000 to take back their system.
Data ransom attacks are today’s technological version of kidnapping. It’s anonymous, more cost-effective and more appealing to criminal enterprises than taking physical hostages. And it’s the reason health care institutions today are taking steps to ensure security.
As part of an ongoing conversation, health care professionals and government agencies will meet on May 1-11 in Washington D.C. to discuss health data as part of the Health Datapalooza event presented by Health Data Consortium.
At Creighton University, law professor Edward Morse is researching the technological and legal limitations for paying data ransom.
“If you can deny access to patient care records, you shut down hospital operations,” Morse said. “With HIPAA, a patient’s electronic records are protected under law. But, a patient’s medical information is only as strong as an institution’s weakest link.
It can be as simple as a disgruntled employee; someone who is willing to give up a password to a potential hacker, so hospitals are working to increase security and limit the number of employees who can access sensitive data.
Adam Kuenning, attorney with Erickson | Sederstrom and a Creighton law professor, teaches HIPAA privacy and security.
“Patient care comes first for any medical professional,” Kuenning said. “The importance of keeping the information secure, may sometimes be lost while the medical professional is focused on the patient’s care.”
Any HIPAA breach of more than 500 patients must be reported to the media, and the Department of Health and Human Services keeps a record of these cases online. Since 2009, more than 1500 cases have been recorded. For cases affecting less than 500 patients, only a letter sent to affected persons is required.
To ensure HIPAA compliance, HHS is conducting audits healthcare companies, but often carelessness is the root cause of a breach. A frequent problem are laptops and thumb drives with private medical information left in an employee’s car.
“Data that’s not encrypted is being stolen somehow,” Kuenning said. “People are breaking into your office, stealing your computer, your servers when you didn’t encrypt your records that evening.”
In the California hospital case, an outside hacker stole records by taking over the computer system. In these cases, it’s common that patient information isn’t actually stolen; rather, hackers freeze the system, making the records inaccessible to medical personnel who need the information to properly care for the patients.
Last June, President Barack Obama stated while the U.S. government won’t pay ransom for hostages, American families have never “been prosecuted for paying a ransom.” In most health care cases, private ransom payments often go unnoticed. Few cases like Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital are publicized. According to Morse, thousands of attacks are attempted, but it’s unknown how many are successful.
“With this crime, it’s embarrassing to institutions, that their systems aren’t secure,” Morse said.
Payouts to criminal enterprises are relatively inexpensive. The black market values each patient’s record at $50 or $60, Morse found. According to a Ponemon Institute Survey, hackers only earn about $28,000 annually, but Morse notes that this wage could equate to a lot more with hackers coming from developing countries.
Without patient’s records, the hospital reaches a standstill, creating the need to comply and pay ransom.
“If you can pay, you would do it in a New York minute,” Morse said.
As the health care industry becomes more invested in technological innovations, institutions must keep privacy in mind, as a data breach can “ultimately, sully the reputation of an institution,” Morse said.

Source: Creighton University

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March 25, 2015

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