Posts Tagged HIPAA

HITECH Compliance Offers Challenges for IT

Posted by on Tuesday, 19 June, 2012

Outside of the finance industry, healthcare is one of the most regulated industries in the U.S.  As the healthcare policy debates rage on, one issue on which most Americans can agree is the need to keep personal healthcare information confidential and secure.

Major regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH have been passed into law to increase the security of our personal health information.  For better or worse, a major portion of the burden to comply with the regulations and all of their revisions falls upon the IT professionals.

HIPAA and HITECH: a brief overviewHITECH, data security, compliance

While HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act), passed in 1996, has received the most attention (see our blog), the more recently implemented HITECH law is quickly having an impact.

HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) was passed into law in 2009. The goal for the  HITECH is to strengthen the civil and criminal enforcement of already existing HIPAA regulations that require health organizations and their business partners to report data breaches.  HITECH also increases the penalties for security violations, and implements new rules for tracking and disclosing patient information breaches.

Data breach notification

Under HITECH rules, all data breaches of PHI (protected health information) must be reported to the individuals whose data was compromised. This includes reporting files that may have been hacked, stolen, lost or even transmitted in an unencrypted fashion.  If such a breach — or potential breach — affects 500 people or more, the media must also be notified.   Breaches of all sizes must always be reported to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), but if fewer than 500 individuals’ records are affected, healthcare organizations can report the breach via the HHS website on an annual basis.  Larger breaches must be reported to HHS within 60 days.

Penalties for data breach

The HITECH Act implements a four tier system of financial penalties assessed based on the level of “willful neglect” a healthcare organization demonstrated resulting in the breach. Fines range from  $100 per breached record for unintended violations all the way up to $50,000 per record (with an annual cap of $1.5 million) when “willful neglect” is demonstrated.

Access to electronic health records (EHRs)

HITECH requires that the software that a health organization uses to manage its EHRs must make a person’s electronic PHI records available to the patient and yet remain protected from data breach by encrypting the data and securing the connection.  Not surprisingly, email is not considered a secure method of data transmission.

Business associates

Before HITECH,  business associates of healthcare organizations were not held directly liable for privacy and security under the HIPAA rules, even though they had access to PHI.  HITECH now requires that all business associates with access to PHI are subject to the HIPAA rules and must maintain Business Associate Agreements with the healthcare organization that provides the PHI.  Business associates are also required to report any data breaches and are subject to the same penalties as their healthcare business partners.

Daniel Cheney

Daniel has been the IT Director at a healthcare company for the last 12 years and a longtime beneficiary of GoAnywhere Director and the IBM i platform. He is also a technical analyst and writer for various technical and social media projects with Humanized Communications.

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Silence the Nagging By Securing Your Data

Posted by on Monday, 6 February, 2012

Compliance issues and the ever-growing list of compliance regulation acronyms (HIPAA, PCI, SOX, etc.) are persistently nagging IT folks who must meet tough mandates and overly complicated rules.

compliance, HIPAA, PCI DSS, data securityOf course, the real reason we must now pay so much attention to compliance is others’ irresponsible abuse. Somewhere along the data strewn path, a few malicious malcontents had to succumb to the voice of greed and abuse their technological skill sets.  All IT professionals’ jobs are tougher thanks to those that through hacking, sniffing, or lifting data sources chose to steal and sell inadequately secured information.

The truth is, though, that “data” really is sensitive information and we live in a paranoid modern world where dastardly damage is done with a just a little twist of the facts.  So in response to the cries of outrage among our citizens, politicians have wrung their bureaucratic hands and offered plenty of passing legislation designed to protect our data.

Because IT is responsible for the company’s data, we need to stay abreast of the laws that apply to it. We also need to to fully understand and implement the three types of data protection: physical, transitional, and procedural.


Physical protection is probably the easiest. We secure the data on our servers, backup tapes and offsite facilities with technologies such as passwords, drive encryption, backup encryption, data center surveillance, physical locks, etc. We spare no expense in securing the physical because we can see it and believe it is secured. Or so we think.


Transitional protection is a little more difficult.  Any data files that leave our networks should be secured with managed FTP solutions that encrypt the files with SFTP, FTPS, HTTPS, PGP, and other protocols.  Firewalls are set up to control what can leave or enter our data domain. DMZ gateways are set up to increase the virtual protection of the data and still allow designated users access to it.


Procedural security is a type of data protection that is least understood and implemented.  A clear and understandable security policy needs to be communicated to the end users so they become familiar with sensitive data is secured, and what consequences may loom if procedures aren’t followed.

The majority of us in IT are protective about who has access to our own sensitive data, so we can understand the reason for protecting everyone else, too.  Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s part of the new normal.

Daniel Cheney

Daniel has been the IT Director at a healthcare company for the last 12 years and a longtime beneficiary of GoAnywhere Director and the IBM i platform. He is also a technical analyst and writer for various technical and social media projects with Humanized Communications.

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Reverse Proxy Gateway Video Now Live

Posted by on Monday, 21 November, 2011

Rounding out our series of GoAnywhere product videos, we’ve recently added an overview of GoAnywhere Gateway.  It explains how incorporating a reverse proxy and a forward proxy into your managed file transfer processes adds an extra layer of protection for your private network.reverse proxy DMZ gateway

When GoAnywhere Gateway is implemented, trading partners can exchange files with your organization without gaining access to your private network because no inbound ports will need to be opened to complete the exchange.  This feature is especially important to auditors evaluating compliance with regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and SOX.

Our Gateway video premier coincides with the release of our latest white paper entitled DMZ Gateways: Secret Weapons for Data Security.  Please let us know if you’d like to learn more about how our reverse proxy DMZ gateway can improve your secure file transfer system.

Susan Baird

Susan is the Marketing Manager at Linoma Software, helping promote our secure file transfer and encryption solutions. Her specialty is content creation and social media marketing.

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Managed File Transfer Solution Now on Video

Posted by on Wednesday, 17 August, 2011

We’re always looking for new ways to illustrate the power and versatility of our GoAnywhere suite of secure file transfer and encryption solutions.  Very simply, GoAnywhere helps you streamline, encrypt and automate your file transfer processes to save time and money while meeting ever-growing compliance requirements.

Still, we find it’s sometimes challenging to quickly explain the power and convenience of our managed file transfer software, so we’re excited to introduce some brand new videos to showcase the flexibility and control GoAnywhere clients have.

GoAnywhere secure file transfer software solution

GoAnywhere’s suite of secure file transfer solutions helps you manage all of your organization’s inbound and outbound file transfers — both internally as well as with external trading partners.

With support for virtually any platform and protocol, including FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP/S, AS2, SMTP and ZIP, GoAnywhere puts local control of the entire process into one intuitive dashboard.  GoAnywhere eliminates the need for custom scripts, generates detailed audit logs, and provides a rich catalog of features for comprehensive management, all without additional hardware or specialized skills.

If you’d like to test drive a free trial, let us know.  We’d also love to hear what you think of our videos!

Susan Baird

Susan is the Marketing Manager at Linoma Software, helping promote our secure file transfer and encryption solutions. Her specialty is content creation and social media marketing.

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Citigroup Breach Triggers Congressional Response

Posted by on Monday, 11 July, 2011

The data breach at Citigroup in May – a breach which reportedly exposed an estimated 200,000 customer accounts – has motivated members of the U.S. Congress to re-introduce legislation to penalize the very organizations that have been victimized by hackers.  What are the next steps your company should take?

New bills to protect consumers’ personal dataLinoma Software Managed File Transfer Solutions

Two bills are proposed by both House and Senate legislators.

First, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has introduced the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011.  The new bill provides:

  • Tough criminal penalties for individuals who intentionally or willfully conceal a security breach involving personal data;
  • A requirement that companies that maintain personal data establish and implement internal policies to protect data privacy and security; and
  • A requirement that the government ensure sensitive data is protected when the government hires  third-party contractors.

This act would also require, under threat of fine or imprisonment, that businesses and agencies notify affected individuals of a security breach by mail, telephone or email  “without unreasonable delay.” Media notices would be required for breaches involving 5,000 or more people.  The FBI and the Secret Service would need to be notified if the breach affects 10,000 or more people, compromises databases containing the information of one million or more people, or impacts federal databases or law enforcement.

But that’s not the only security bill that has businesses concerned.

In the House, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Ca) is holding hearings in preparation of a bill she’s named The SAFE (Secure and Fortify) Data Act that would also require “reasonable security policies and procedures” to protect consumers and enable disclosures to victims and the Federal Trade Commission within 48 hours of a data breach.

Companies no longer viewed as the victims

All this sounds good from the consumer’s point of view. But what about the expense – and potential Linoma Software GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer Solutionpenalties – suffered by the “owners” of the data: the businesses themselves?

While these bills may address the public’s interest for notification — and indeed they would bring some semblance of a national standard – they also represent an interesting shift in the liabilities that companies will face.  How is that?

Though we currently have no federal data breach notification law, federal policies now view the companies that experience a data breach as the victims of crime. However, under the proposed legislative bills, companies that do not act quickly to appropriately secure the personal data of customers – or fail to report a data breach in a reasonable amount of time – would not only suffer the theft of data, but also be held liable for its loss.

This is a significant shift. Companies are now being viewed not as the owners of consumer data, but merely guardians and trustees whose job it is to protect that data or face criminal penalties. And the message is clear: if companies won’t take adequate precautions to secure the sensitive data of our customers, they’ll pay a hefty price.

Where does your company stand?

In a world in which diligent hackers have the power break into seemingly secure networks and systems, what can your company do?

The challenge is first to determine exactly what qualifies as adequate precautions.

GoAnywhere Secure Managed File Transfer A review of the HIPAA HITECH security provisions that took effect last year provides some insight about what the government considers adequate protection.

HITECH strongly recommends the use of encryption technology. Encryption is a good place for your company to start, especially when dealing with the data your company stores on its servers.  If sensitive data itself is kept securely encrypted, a data breach doesn’t expose the content of the information itself.

Secure managed file transfer protocols – which send data using encryption – is the second place to focus attention.

If data is encrypted when it is being securely transmitted between business partners, the value of that data should it be breached – through hacking, theft, or other malicious actions – is worthless.  Encryption and secure managed file transfers can dramatically minimize the holes of technical breaches, significantly reducing an organization’s liability.

Preventing exposure

The Citigroup data breach has rekindled the momentum for a nationwide, cross-industry data breach reporting standard. This standard will not to eliminate the physical breaches themselves. What’s needed is legislation to encourage companies secure the underlying data that is the target of the hackers.

Isn’t it time for your company to take a serious look at its liabilities and to investigate how encryption and managed file transfers can close these important security holes?

Thomas Stockwell

Thomas M. Stockwell is one of Linoma Software's subject matter experts and a top blogger in the industry. He is Principle Analyst at IT Incendiary, with more than 20 years of experience in IT as a Systems Analyst, Engineer, and IS Director.

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