The CynergisTek Blog

Read the latest blog posts by CynergisTek’s team of experts related to healthcare security, privacy and compliance. Have a topic that you would like us to cover? Email us to tell us what you are interested in.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), published an advisory in the March issue of its “Cybersecurity Newsletter” warning of a well-known attack method known as the man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack. This type of attack is used by attackers to, exactly as it sounds, become a man in the middle of a secure connection. So, while the victim thinks they are connecting to their destination website (e.g. bank, social media, email, etc), the attacker is taking over the connection and can see any data “in the clear” before it is forwarded on to the actual destination.

By |April 10th, 2017|

Why Would You Hire Someone to Attack Your Network?

While researching future blog post topics, I discovered that many people are searching on Google in the hopes of better understanding the benefits of having a penetration test done. This is a great question, and it is especially important to understand the answer even if your organization is not governed by regulatory or compliance requirements to have a penetration test done. There are plenty of reasons to conduct a pen test, or red team assessment, on your organization’s technical environment.

By |April 1st, 2017|

Demonstrating an Effective Compliance Program

Most healthcare organizations today have a compliance program, but how many can say the program is effective and more importantly feel confident they could demonstrate effectiveness? It is not uncommon to hear, “I cannot define effectiveness but I know it when I see it.” Why is this important? All compliance professionals know having a paper compliance program (compliance plan that sits on the shelf along with well drafted but not implemented policies and procedures) is not effective. But as one assesses what an organization is doing as it relates to the seven elements of an effective compliance program based on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and all the various OIG compliance program guidance documents, the process gets more convoluted. How much is enough, and do you just want to do “the bare minimum”?

By |March 24th, 2017|

Privacy Issues Unique to Research and Research Institutions

Covered entities deal with many complex privacy and information security issues, but institutions that conduct research have an additional level of complexity. Key to understanding the implications of privacy obligations in research is understanding the multiple regulations that could apply to human subject research.

By |February 27th, 2017|

Death, Taxes … and Breach Reporting

It is said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. If you are a HIPAA covered entity, you can add reporting breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR). For breaches involving less than 500 individuals, the Breach Notification Rule requires a covered entity to submit information to HHS at least annually through OCR’s breach reporting portal on the HHS website. For the 2016 calendar year the deadline for reporting breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals is March 1, 2017.

By |February 14th, 2017|

HIMSS17 Preview: Hacker Demos

CynergisTek's Senior Penetration Tester John Nye provides a preview of his HIMSS17 hacker demos, "Wireless Worries", "Mobile Devices and Portable Hacks", and "The Problem with Wetware."

By |February 8th, 2017|

Time for Enlightened Leadership on IT Security in 2017

2017 is here, and, like any new year, promises both opportunities and challenges. The question is, what will we do with it? Will it be a year of great progress, one of marking time, or worse yet one of falling further behind? Meeting the cybersecurity challenges of the future is a job for leaders. There should be no doubt that healthcare institutions are under attack on a regular basis now from external threats, while continuing to face the insidious abuse of insiders. As the old saying goes, “they have it coming and going.”

By |January 27th, 2017|

New Year, Same Challenges

If you are reading this blog post, you have survived 2016. By most accounts, it was a rough year in regards to the state of security in healthcare. Cyber attacks have been no exception to this calculation. We saw the announcements of some of the biggest breaches in history, the continued proliferation of ransomware, and even the recent reports that Russia was meddling in U.S. politics through attacks on IT security.

By |January 19th, 2017|

OCR Issues Guidance Emphasizing Importance of Audit Controls

OCR recently published its January Cyber Awareness Newsletter that provides guidance on how organizations should comply with the audit controls standard. The HIPAA Security Rule (45 CFR 164.312(b)) requires a covered entity or business associate is required to implement hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms that record and examine activity in electronic information systems that contain or use electronic protected health information.

By |January 16th, 2017|