Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
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Guidance on Ransomware Attacks under HIPAA and State Data Breach Notification Laws

On July 28, 2016, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance (guidance) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on what covered entities and business associates can do to prevent and recover from ransomware attacks. Ransomware attacks can also trigger concerns under state data breach notification laws.

Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software). It is deployed through devices and systems through spam, phishing messages, websites and email attachments, or it can be directly installed by an attacker who has hacked into a system. In many instances, when a user clicks on the malicious link or opens the attachment, it infects the user’s data. Ransomware attempts to deny access to a user’s data, usually by encrypting the data with a key known only to the hacker who deployed the malware. After the user’s data is encrypted, the ransomware attacker directs the user to pay a ransom in order to receive a decryption key. However, the attacker may also deploy ransomware that destroys or impermissibly transfers information from an information system to a remote location controlled by the attacker. Paying the ransom may result in the attacker providing the key necessary needed to decrypt the information, but it is not guaranteed. In 2016, at least four hospitals have reported attacks by ransomware, but additional attacks are believed to go unreported.

Read the full article here to learn about the indications of a ransomware attack, what do in the event of a ransomware attack and what circumstances constitute a HIPAA breach.




HHS Office of Inspector General Calls for Increased Oversight and Enforcement of HIPAA

On September 29, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Office of Evaluation and Inspections, released two studies calling on the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to strengthen its efforts in both general enforcement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Standards and enforcement of security breach reporting requirements. OIG commissioned both studies out of concern for the increased risk of an invasion of privacy and exposure to fraud, identity theft and other harm that patients face in an ever-expanding digital health environment.

Read the full On the Subject.




With No Federal Law in Sight, States Continue to Refine Their Own Data Privacy Laws

With no Congressional consensus to adopt a federal data privacy and breach notification statute, states are updating and refining their already-existing laws to enact more stringent requirements for companies.  Two states recently passed updated data privacy laws with significant changes.

Read the full post here.

 




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