Category Archives: Regulation

Data Security: How HIPAA Rules Affect Your Organization

Every organization has to ensure that all of its data is stored securely and that any possibility of data leaks or information theft are minimized as much as possible. Healthcare providers must also ensure that they comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Here are some of the ways in which HIPAA rules can affect your practice and steps you can take to ensure you comply.

HIPAA Rules

The two fundamental components of HIPAA are the Privacy Rule and Security Rule. The key aspects of HIPAA’s Privacy Rule relate to who can have access to personal health information (PHI), how it is used and disclosed. Policies and procedures should be implemented to ensure that only the minimum information necessary is disclosed and that written patient authorization is obtained prior to their information being disclosed. Failing to follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule can lead to civil and even criminal penalties. The HIPAA Security Rule requires that all ePHI which is created, sent or received be kept confidential, that data integrity is maintained and that data is available when needed.

Safe Storage Of Electronic Records

Most patient healthcare information is now stored digitally, making it easier for clinical data to be access between providers. However, this data is still subject to the same HIPAA rules. It may include information about the patient’s medications, medical history and billing information. Crucially, this means that all electronic health records need to be stored securely and that adequate security measures need to be in place to prevent improper access.

Adequate Encryption

It is essential that safeguards are put in place to ensure that security threats and breaches are minimized.

One of the most important safeguards to implement is secure encryption of data. To ensure maximum security, it’s essential that you use software that encrypts the data when you back up health records. The same applies to any platforms you may use to transfer patient information with other healthcare professionals or patients themselves.

Prevention Of Data Breaches

Whenever anyone without authorization accesses personal health information, this is considered a data breach. This may be a hacker, a member of the team with malicious intent or just a curious employee. Organizations need to take steps to protect patient information from being improperly accessed, as far as they reasonably can, to prevent avoidable data breaches. Whenever a data breach is discovered, it is imperative that the organization provides a breach notification, as specified in by the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule.

Safeguard Against Cyber-Attacks

Organizations also need to ensure that they have adequate safeguards in place to protect against ransomware and cyber-attacks. Ransomware attacks involve malicious software encrypting the data on a computer or network and denying access to the data until a ransom payment has been made.

Healthcare providers are particularly vulnerable to ransomware and cyber-attacks.  Most of these attacks aim to steal electronic healthcare data which can then be sold on. The best strategy to ensure you can recover from any sort of cyber-attack is to have offline backups. You also need to ensure that any data kept on the cloud is stored securely. You risk fines, damage to your reputation and even poor healthcare outcomes if you don’t have proper security in place.

Safeguarding Public Health

Whilst individual privacy must always be adhered to, there are instances in which PHI can be released en masse. These will be specific instances which impact on public safety. For example, any situation which requires disease or death to be identified, monitored and responded to. Other situations include terrorism, surveillance, outbreak investigation and research. You need to be clear about what information can be disseminated and used in each case.

Conclusion

In order to ensure that you and your business associates are complying with HIPAA and properly and securely protecting PHI, you need to minimize the risk of any health information becoming compromised, improperly disclosed or stolen and encrypted. Ensure that you have the latest security management initiatives in place in order to protect your digital platforms and ensure that patient information remains secure and uncompromised.

Beatrix Potter is a cybersecurity writer at Essay Services website. 

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The Cyber Security Guide For Small Business Owners

Cybercrime isn’t limited to large corporations or wealthy individuals; it also targets small businesses. According to the U.S. Congressional Small Business Committee, a significant amount of cyber-attacks targeted businesses with less than 100 workers. A related study by the SMB CyberSecurity Report established that 50% of SMBs had experienced a security breach in the past.

The reason small businesses are targeted more than large corporations is that they’ve vulnerabilities in their networks. This means it’s easier to breach the networks of small businesses than it’s to penetrate large corporations. Small businesses don’t allocate sufficient time and funds to secure their networks. They also lack expert personnel, have outdated security programs, and fail to secure their endpoints. The following are some of the basic cybersecurity best practices for small businesses.

Use a Firewall

Setting up a firewall is one of the basic ways of defending your business against a cyber-attack. The Federal Communications Commission urges small businesses to have firewalls to prevent data breaches. Some organizations have a standard firewall and an internal firewall for additional protection. Employees working remotely should also set up firewalls on their home networks.

Put Your Cybersecurity Policies In Writing

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s advisable to put your policies in writing. To get started, you can attend online training through the Small Business Administration Cybersecurity portal. You can get help with drafting your policies from the FCC’s Cyberplanner 2.0. Alternatively, you can request a comprehensive toolkit for cybersecurity best practices through the C3 Voluntary Program for Small Businesses.

Use The CIA Model

When it comes to establishing cybersecurity policies, you should use the CIA model to guide you. This model helps keep your business secure by protecting your data. The elements of this model are Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. First, you should make sure information can’t be accessed by unauthorized personnel. You can do this by encrypting the information.

Secondly, you need to protect data and systems from being altered by unauthorized personnel. This means you should ensure that the information is unchanged from the time you create it to the time it reaches the end-user. Lastly, ensure authorized personnel have access to information when they need it and that you update your applications whenever necessary.

Train Employees In Cyber Security Measures

After you have established security policies, the next step is to train your employees on how to incorporate these measures. For example, you should train your employees on how to create strong passwords. It would help if you also established rules that penalize employees for violating the business’s Cybersecurity policies. Make ground rules on how to manage and protect client data and other important information. For example, you may establish rules that all machines should have the latest security software, operating system, and web browser to guard against malware, viruses, and online threats.

Device a Plan For Mobile Devices

According to Tech Pro Research 2016 BYOD, 59% of businesses allow BYOD. There’s a high surge in the use of wearables like wireless fitness trackers and smartwatches. For this reason, small businesses should establish BYOD policies that emphasize the need for security precautions. Norton by Symantec also urges small businesses to encourage employees to set automatic updates and use a strong password policy for mobile devices that are tapping into the company’s network.

Back up Your Data Regularly

You may still be breached after observing all the necessary security measures. This is why you need to back up data regularly. You also need to back up data that is kept in the cloud because those servers could also be compromised. Store your backups in a safe place to guard against fire outbreaks and floods. Make sure your backups are up to date.

Apply Multifactor Identification

No matter how secure you think you’re, mistakes are inevitable. An employee can make a mistake that leaves your network vulnerable. Using the multifactor identification settings provides an additional layer of protection to your network. You can use employees’ phone numbers because it would be unlikely for a cybercriminal to have both the pin code and the password.

Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

If your business has a Wi-Fi network, you need to secure it. Encrypt and hide the Wi-Fi network, so it’s not accessed by unauthorized personnel. To hide the network, set up a wireless access point to prevent it from broadcasting the name of the network, also called the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Protect access to the router using a password. 

Endnote

Many businesses downplay the threat of cybercriminals, arguing that they don’t have significant assets or that their data is not worth a security breach. However, cybercriminals target the weak networks of small businesses more than the heavily secured networks of large organizations. For this reason, it’s important to observe cybersecurity practices to ensure your business and clients are secured from cyber thieves. The above measures will help you tighten the data security of your organization, making it more difficult for hackers to breach your systems.

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How to improve web application security

It is extremely common for business websites to use web applications. However, when these applications contain vulnerabilities they can be exploited by hackers. This makes it essential that companies start taking web application security more seriously. 

There are countless examples of poor web application security that have led to extremely serious data breaches and the loss of significant amounts of money. The well-publicised data breach at Equifax was caused by a failure to patch a flaw in a web application – this ended up costing the business in excess of $1.38billion.  

Here we take a look at some of the most important ways that you can improve your web application security. 

Encrypt your web traffic

One of the most important aspects of web application security is through the encryption of web traffic. This can be achieved by acquiring a TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificate. If web data is not encrypted, then functionally it is possible for anyone to read it, if they can intercept the data at any point. 

Using a cryptographic key, TLS encrypts the data in a way that makes it impossible to reverse engineer. This effectively ensures that your data cannot be read by hackers that find a way to access it. 

Properly manage user permissions

The next step in keeping your applications secure is by managing user permissions. Many businesses make the mistake of providing every member of staff with full access to the company system – assuming this is necessary to ensure staff are productive. However, in reality, full access is typically not needed by everyone in order to do their job. Reducing user permissions instead makes applications far more secure.

This is because when all members of staff have full access, it only takes one breach for criminals to have access to the whole system. The well-known cyberattack on Ticketfly is a good example of poor user permission management. More than 26 million customers had their data stolen when criminals were able to breach the account of a webmaster with full system access. 

Provide staff training sessions

Another vital aspect of security comes in the form of your employees themselves. Staff can be an extremely useful resource in the battle against cybercrime, but many organisations aren’t doing enough to provide their staff with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to combat web application breaches.

Staff need to understand the best practice cybersecurity steps they need to take to help ensure the security of web applications. Too many companies simply provide an introductory training session with cursory information on cybersecurity. This isn’t enough on its own – you should have regular sessions updating the information and keeping staff aware of changes.

Work with pen testing specialists

You should have web application penetration tests carried out. Sometimes called pen tests, this involves cybersecurity professionals using the techniques and tactics employed by cybercriminals in order to understand if there are any vulnerabilities in your applications which could be exploited if a genuine cybercrime was to take place. 

These tests can be conducted on very specific aspects of applications, or they can be broader – encompassing all elements of your system and network. You can use the results of the test to help you understand how to improve your applications and mitigate the risk of them being breached. 

Monitor systems and assets

As well as putting investments into preventative security measures, such as penetration testing, it is also important to monitor your system at all times. Security information and event management (SIEM) software is an ideal choice if you are looking for technologies that can help to protect and watch over your systems. 

SIEM monitors servers, logs, and web traffic to understand if there is any unusual activity surrounding your web applications. This might include unauthorised connections or potentially malicious activity. 

Final thoughts

Cybercriminals are constantly becoming more sophisticated, so it is essential that businesses put in the right defences to keep their web applications secure. If you run web applications you must not only put time and energy into security measures but also provide staff with help to reduce the risk of an attack. 

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Cybersecurity advice and tips for the remote workers

Sarah, an associate employed with EduWorldUSAsays that with the global pandemic of COVID-19, the entire dynamics of how we communicate, work, and collaborate with people has changed. A lot of government, private, and public-sector companies have made it a mandatory requirement for their employees to strictly work from home. For a lot of employees, it is the first time that they are working from home. Now, this might bring in a lot of challenges. In addition to the uncertainties and the stress of this pandemic, we also need to struggle every day with this transition in our work-life habits. It is going to be equally tough for the students who are told to take all their classes from the home online. So, in the tips cybersecurity practices that we have listed below, we not only target the remote workers but also the students. 

You must already know how difficult it is for you to ensure that you and your employees are cyber secure when they work in an office environment, where cybersecurity is already a quintessential part of the day-to-day culture. But, now when the employees are working from home, it has become twice as challenging as you need to make them aware of safe and cyber-secure habits and practices. 

Now, to help the employees, and the security leaders to fare well through this transition phase, we have come up with a list of tips that are exclusively dedicated to keeping the remote employees cyber secure.

Things employees and the remote workers should do to be cyber secure

To ensure that you and your employees are cyber secure, you need to adopt a bunch of practices. These include:

  • When you try connecting to your company’s network, only use a highly secure connection. You need to further ascertain that company’s Virtual Private Network is configured with a multi-level authentication. 
  • Do your office work only from your home Wi-Fi. Do not ever connect your office computer with a public or an open Wi-Fi. 
  • Never exchange or transfer the files, information, or the work data from your work computer to your personal devices or home computer. Robin, who works with a website that does your homework,says that he never does his office work on his home computer because that would put a lot of private and confidential data to risk. It so happens because your home computer’s browsers and systems do not have the high-end security software, and are thus, exposed to risks.
  • Ensure that you are only using the latest operating systems, applications, internal software, and network tools. Furthermore, at all times, on your work computer, you should get your office’s IT support cell to install anti-spam and malware protection software.   
  • Only use passwords that are strong for your email, laptop, and even your work phone. 
  • Only use the cloud applications that are approved for both storing or the sharing of the data. 
  • Do not ever print or store paper documents, which might have sensitive data at your home.  

At all times, the organizations should adopt and promote best security practices and tools. You can also leverage nano learnings, newsletters, micro learnings along with the other awareness tools. This ensures that the security stays a top-of-the-mind issue.  

How to ensure that the home computer is cyber secure?

To ensure that your and your employee’s home computer is cyber secure, you need to aware about the following:

Have all the software updated

Firstly, tell them that all their software and applications should be updated.  Furthermore, ensure that only the latest browsers, operating systems, or the apps are present in the devices or the computers, which you connect to the internet for your office work.

Use secure connection

Always use a Wi-Fi connection that is 100% secure. If possible, get a home firewall installed. It is important to be alert to ensure that all the important company assets are protected from all types of cyber-attacks. 

Have an antivirus software installed

You need to use antivirus software. It will help you automatically scan the files that you download, the websites that you visit, the email attachments that come in your mail, and the data that save on the USB sticks, hard drives, and memory cards. Jacob, an expert who works with a homework writing agency and offers online assignment help Sydney, says that when he associated with this agency, they installed the Anti-Virus in his system to ensure that the data stayed safe. 

Use stronger passwords

You need to have stronger passwords not only on your work devices but also on your home computers. Never use something as your partner’s name, your phone number, date of birth, favourite colour, or anything similar as your password.

Be click aware

Natasha, an educator who offers the best front end web development courseonline, says that though she works from home, she is always sceptical and vigilant but all the unsolicited text messages, emails, attachments, or the social media DMs that she gets. You have to follow the same. If there’s even a slight doubt, do not click on that link.  

Always ensure that your employees know, understand, and acknowledge the fact that they are the first line of protection against all forms of cyber-attacks. The best way to stay protected is by staying cautious. Always look at every unknown email, message, chat, or attachment as something that might be illegitimate. So, beware. 

Mobile Cyber Security Tips

The thing with cybercriminals is that they can attack you anytime and anywhere. That’s the reason even mobile cyber-attacks are common these days. Here, are a few things that you need to do for your mobile cybersecurity.

  • Disable the auto-discovery feature of Bluetooth

Rega, an online reviewer, who did an excellent ThanksForTheHelp Review, says that she always keeps the Bluetooth of her home and work phone off to keep it protected from cyber-attacks. Well, it is true, the cybercriminals always look for Bluetooth signals and use it to hack into your devices.

  • Turn off auto-connect Wi-Fi feature

Keep the Wi-Fi auto-connect feature off as that can get your phone connected to a public open Wi-Fi.

  • Enable Face ID or Touch ID

Instead of using passcodes, use visual and fingerprint authentication to ensure that your mobile phone data is safe. If you are using a password, pick one that’s unique and strong.

  • Have all the latest apps and software on your phone

Make sure all the apps are updated, and the latest software is installed. New updates are launched to keep you protected from all types of cyber threats.

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SQL Server Security Basics

Security is of paramount importance in any IT context today, especially when you are looking to protect something as precious and potentially vulnerable to attack as an SQL server.

Here is a quick primer on the basic aspects of security which matters most for SQL server solutions, since the cost of a breach will vastly outweigh the effort of learning and following best practices.

Encryption

There is no doubt that encryption should be part of any modern DataOps strategy, particularly given the scope and scale of the threats that exist in the age of unfettered connectivity.

You can encrypt data stored on your SQL server, and indeed you should make sure that this is enabled as standard. You also need to take into account how the data is protected when it is in transit, when it might be exposed to exploitation while passing through public networks and devices.

There are different types of encryption to consider, with SSL encryption keeping data safe when it is on the move while cell-level encryption will allow comprehensive protection even while the data is cached on server RAM. The greater the level of encryption you choose, the more potential complications can arise, so it is a matter of balancing your needs against the risks.

Backup

All the security measures in the world will be for naught if your SQL server is breached, damaged or otherwise compromised in such a way that leaves the information it contains inaccessible or unrecoverable for some reason.

This is why a good SQL server backup solution needs to be factored into your security efforts, providing you with a lifeline to restore mission-critical data in the direst of circumstances.

There are quite a few points to consider when selecting a backup strategy. Opting for a differential backup, for example, will allow you to perform the backup process faster and without the same penalty in terms of storage requirements. A full backup will form the foundations of a differential backup as well as being used to underpin transaction log backups, which allow for time-specific restoration.

All backup varieties take time and require a commitment of hardware and network resources, while also posing a security risk in their own right, so remember not to overlook this aspect.

Access

Managing access to your SQL server is vital, not just in terms of taking control of which users and apps can retrieve data or make changes to the database, but also with regards to the physical hardware itself.

This is not something that will immediately seem obvious, especially at a time when more and more organizations are choosing to migrate to remotely hosted or hybrid cloud setups, but even if your IT resources feel nebulous, they are still founded on tangible servers.

If you are directly responsible for housing this hardware, restricting physical access to it is just as crucial as vetting digital access. Locking server rooms is a minimum; making sure that only employees with a legitimate reason to access them should also be part of your security protocols.

Updates

Although cybersecurity threats are growing and evolving all the time, software firms do a good job of fixing vulnerabilities and patching problems whenever they rear their heads.

This means that it is the responsibility of SQL server specialists to keep their software up to date, installing vital security patches as soon as possible. Failure to do so will leave you exposed unnecessarily and could lead to breaches that would have been entirely preventable. Both the SQL software and the OS it runs on need to be updated as a matter of urgency.

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ITAR compliance: ignorance is no excuse

The ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) legislation details what measures businesses and individuals must take to comply with ITAR requirements and specifies severe penalties, both civil and criminal, for non-compliance. The reach of the regulations is broad and suppliers of all kinds may be subject to requirements to keep sensitive information secure and restricted.