OCR Responds to Rise in Health Care Cyberattacks

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After recent WannaCry ransomware and Petya/notPetya malware attacks exposed the data security vulnerabilities of health care organizations and pharmaceutical companies globally, the Department of Health and Human Services and Office for Civil Rights have rolled out resources to prevent future attacks. The OCR’s resources, such as its Quick-Response Checklist, infographic and informational newsletter, are meant to support health care organizations every step of the way, from planning and contingency plans to response and mitigation procedures.

We’ve outlined some of the key points in the OCR and HHS documents in this recent alert.

Time to Focus on Cybersecurity in Health Care

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In the wake of the WannaCry global attack that impacted the U.K.’s National Health Service, the need to protect valuable health care data has never been more urgent. The U.S. government has begun to take steps in the right direction with the passing of executive orders on cybersecurity, the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, and the Government Accountability Office report on the Internet of Things.

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An Early Review of the Trump Administration’s Health Care Cybersecurity Task Force Report

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Formed by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, a task force established to share cybersecurity information between federal government and private industry representatives has released its “Report on Improving Cybersecurity in the Health Care Industry.” They presented six major action items for Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, other government agencies and private industry.

The Report organized its recommendations under six Imperatives:

  • Define and streamline leadership, governance, and expectations for health care industry cybersecurity;
  • Increase the security and resilience of medical devices and health IT;
  • Develop the health care workforce capacity necessary to prioritize and ensure cybersecurity awareness and technical capabilities;
  • Increase health care industry readiness through improved cybersecurity awareness and education;
  • Identify mechanisms to protect research and development efforts and intellectual property from attacks or exposure; and
  • Improve information sharing of industry threats, weaknesses, and mitigations.

In a recent alert, we evaluated the action items and draft recommendations prepared by the Task Force, = and discuss how the Trump administration will react to these new proposals.

Read our review of the Health Care Cybersecurity Task Force Report

Global Ransomware Attack: What Your Organization Needs to Know Now

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The WannaCry cyberattack on Friday, May 12, 2017 was the largest international ransomware attack to date.

Victims of the attack range in size—from Fortune 500 to small/medium-sized businesses—and industry—from academic institutions to large banks, health care providers and transportation networks. The U.K.’s health care regulatory agency, the National Health Service (NHS), was a major target. The attack’s devastating scale in exploiting data security vulnerabilities is a good reminder of how critical it is for health care organizations to conduct comprehensive security assessments immediately and regularly.

We took a close look at the WannaCry ransomware incident and have some tips for what organizations need to know to minimize their risk in this article.

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