All Posts in Category: Case Study

doctor's mobile devices

1 in 5 Doctor’s Mobile Devices May Be At High Risk

As important a role as mobile plays in healthcare, it may also pose an equally serious threat, according to a report by Skycure, a mobile threat defense company based in Palo Alto, Calif. In fact, the report found that the doctors who use mobile devices—approximately 80% of doctors use mobile devices and 28% store patient data on their mobile device, according to the report– in their day-to-day practice are exposed to network threats that increase over time.

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hospitals hit with ransomware

2 More Hospitals Hit With Ransomware

Hospitals and healthcare providers are increasingly falling victim to crypto-ransomware attacks. While attacks over the past few months have not been highly targeted thus far, they have caused a great deal of disruption. And disruptions at hospitals can have a much more dire impact than at most other organizations vulnerable to malware-based extortion.

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ransomware hackers steal hospital

Ransomware Hackers Steal A Hospital. Again.

A month after a hospital in Hollywood was shut down by a ransomware infection that encrypted all the files on its computers and computer-controlled instruments and systems, another hospital, this one in Kentucky, has suffered a similar fate.

The hacker who stole Hollywood Presbyterian asked for $3.6 million, but settled for a piddling $17,000 (40 bitcoin), presumably after they realized that their random infectious agent had kidnapped a giant, high-profile institution that would be able to motivate serious law-enforcement investigations that would move ever-closer to their true identity the longer the ransom negotiations continued.

Ransomware Hackers Steal Hospital Information, Again

Henderson, Kentucky’s Methodist Hospital has declared an “Internal State of Emergency,” having been shut down by a piece of ransomware called “Locky.” The hospital’s spokeslawyer, David Park, said that they’re addressing the ransomware attack using plans designed to help the hospital weather a tornado or other natural disaster.

The attackers are only asking for $1,600 (4 bitcoin) to unlock the hospital’s files.

Brian Krebs speculates that the attackers didn’t set out to hold a hospital to ransom, and have no real appreciation of how much they could be asking for (though the Kentucky hospital seems to have been less compromised than the one in Hollywood). He warns that in future, ransomware creeps will start targeting their attacks, aiming for victims who have more to lose, and more to spend, when their data is taken from them.

“We haven’t yet made decision on that, we’re working through the process,” with the FBI, he said. “I think it’s our position that we’re not going to pay it unless we absolutely have to.”

The attackers are demanding a mere four bitcoins in exchange for a key to unlock the encrypted files; that’s a little more than USD $1,600 at today’s exchange rate.

Park said the administration hasn’t ruled out paying the ransom.

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northwell health hipaa settlement

Northwell Health HIPAA Settlement-Agrees To Pay $3.9M

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research has agreed to settle potential HIPAA violations with a $3.9 million payment and a substantial corrective action plan.

Feinstein is a biomedical research institute based in Manhasset, N.Y., that falls under the Great Neck, N.Y.-based Northwell Health enterprise. In 2012, Feinstein reported a data breach after a computer containing the electronic protected health information of nearly 13,000 patients and research participants was stolen from an employee’s car. Information stored on the laptop included names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, diagnoses, laboratory results, medications and other medical information.

Northwell Health HIPAA Settlement

HHS’ Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation into the breach and determined Feinstein’s security management processes to be incomplete and insufficient to address potential risks and vulnerabilities of electronic PHI, including failure to restrict access to unauthorized users and a lack of policies and procedures to govern the removal of laptops out of its facilities.

“Research institutions subject to HIPAA must be held to the same compliance standards as all other HIPAA-covered entities,” said OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels. “For individuals to trust in the research process and for patients to trust in those institutions, they must have some assurance that their information is kept private and secure.”

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$25,000 OCR Settlement For Physical Therapy

On February 16, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it had entered into an agreement with Complete P.T., Pool & Land Physical Therapy, Inc. (CPT), a physical therapy practice located in California, to resolve HIPAA violations arising from CPT’s impermissible disclosure of protected health information (PHI) on its website in the form of patient testimonials.

OCR initiated an investigation in 2012 and determined that CPT had impermissibly disclosed PHI on its website without obtaining HIPAA-compliant authorizations. Specifically, CPT posted patient testimonials, including full names and full face photographs, without obtaining valid authorizations from the individuals identified in the testimonials. OCR concluded that CPT violated the HIPAA’s Privacy Rule by failing to reasonably safeguard PHI, impermissibly disclosing PHI, and failing to implement policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with the Privacy Rule’s authorization requirements.

As part of the resolution agreement, CPT admitted civil liability for violating the Privacy Rule, agreed to pay $25,000, and entered into a three-year corrective action plan (CAP) with OCR. The CAP requires CPT to develop and implement written policies and procedures to ensure Privacy Rule compliance that include, but are not limited to, measures that address (i) permissible uses and disclosures of PHI, and (ii) individual authorization requirements. The CAP also requires CPT to provide workforce training on its HIPAA policies and procedures; subjects CPT to heightened reporting requirements related to HIPAA violations; and obligates CPT to submit annual CAP-compliance reports. In addition to those conditions—which are standard in OCR corrective action plans—the CAP also requires CPT to remove all PHI from its website for which it does not have a valid HIPAA-compliant authorization by February 12, 2016.

For health care providers and suppliers subject to HIPAA, OCR’s resolution agreement with CPT is particularly noteworthy for two reasons:

CPT’s failure to obtain valid authorizations from patients before posting their names and faces on its website represents a straightforward violation of a basic HIPAA requirement that HIPAA-covered entities must be aware of, and comply with, especially in connection with marketing activities that utilize PHI; and
CPT was required to admit civil liability for violating the Privacy Rule, a departure from previous OCR resolution agreements that customarily contain “No Admission” provisions explicitly rejecting any admission of liability. This appears to be the first time a covered entity has been required to admit civil liability as part of a resolution agreement, and may portend a new approach by OCR to investigating and resolving HIPAA complaints.

Original content by JDSupra Business Advisor

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divorce and hipaa violations

Until Death Do Us Part – Divorce And HIPAA Violations

The Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, recently took the rare step of imposing civil monetary penalties against a large home health provider for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), highlighting the importance of developing written policies that meet the realities of how and where employees use documents with patients’ personal health information (“PHI”).

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