IT Security is paramount to the uninterrupted running of network operations. Unfortunately, for many companies IT security means anti-virus or malware protection...and nothing else. It's easy to allow the news of hackers taking down mutil-billion dollar businesses with one calculated effort influence the security decisions your company makes. However offputting these scenarios are, remember that a strong IT posture is dependant on a multifacted approach to protecting your network. Here are four steps, that you can start today, to improve the overall IT security of your business.
Businesses involved with the use or processing of credit card information must be sure that its systems are compliant with the payment card industry's data security standard (known as PCI Compliance). This includes all companies that take credit cards as a form of payment. When these companies begin to use IT solutions such as virtualization and cloud computing, remaining compliant with PCI DSS can become a much larger challenge.
Businesses today struggle more and more with IT compliance demands that are required of them from all areas. The fact of the matter is that these demanding regulations are here to stay. The bright side is that accomplishing compliance goals are relatively straightforward and once they have been implemented effectively, they contribute in enhancing and enabling the business in a big way. The key is to understand what IT compliance can accomplish and how all its various areas can contribute to further enhancing and complementing business operations and reducing information related risks. The most notable benefits of having an IT governance strategy in place are not just to avoid fines and penalties but also to enhance and measure business performance.
At some point, your business may need to consider (or reconsider) an IT governance model. IT governance refers to a set of IT practices that align with your business strategies to ensure compliance and security.
To protect the privacy and integrity of this information, IT security administrators monitor systems for vulnerabilities, following HIPAA security compliance standards. When a system has a large number of devices to monitor, it provides more opportunity for intrusions to occur. Internal IT teams do their best, but manually auditing security processes may not be an adequate solution to the problem. It can take large amounts of time both to implement and then to maintain the measures to protect the organization adequately from viruses and other attacks. That is why many healthcare organizations decide to outsource in order to satisfy compliance standards. Outsourcing a business's security and streamlining the monitoring process also allows for a more effective and secure networked.
The first step for healthcare providers to become compliant is to ensure that their internal policies are in accordance with HIPAA standards. When these standards are followed, patient data is more likely to remain private and secure, and the healthcare provider is seen as a dependable, reliable, and trustworthy entity. To help maintain compliance, the use of virtualization can be a successful solution.
Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than physical) machine on an existing device, such as a hardware platform, operating system or storage device. Building a secure network and maintaining a vulnerability management program on fewer machines allows IT professionals to spend less time monitoring and maintaining the security of their devices. Through virtualization, a healthcare provider's IT department can efficiently:
- Protect confidential data and critical IT systems, prevent loss of data, and automate an organization's compliance policies and processes
- Develop solutions that increase a healthcare organization's business and IT agility
- Automatically identify and protect databases and storage devices that contain sensitive and private data like social security numbers and credit card information
- Create practical policies that ensure patient privacy
- Secure IT systems while meeting compliance requirements
If your organization falls under any of the types of government compliance, it’s crucial that employees follow the proper protocol to be compliant with IT security policies. Executives designate the process of ensuring that compliance standards are followed to IT leaders generally. The IT department determines where there are compliance gaps and applies the necessary measures and policies. However, for these measures to work efficiently, everyone in the organization must follow them. Unfortunately, employee non-compliance with policies can happen and when it does, security breaches are possible.
Here are the top five causes of breaches due to non-compliance:
Hackers have stolen credit card information from 63 Barnes & Noble stores across the US, reported the New York Times yesterday.
Healthcare is a necessary evil in most American's lives - if you're lucky enough to have it. With the possibility of manditory national healthcare on the horizon, it is imperative for IT departments and healthcare professionals alike to be aware of the link between HIPAA and email encryption.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, simply known as the SEC, has guidelines (also known as compliance standards) which tell companies when to divulge information on cyber attacks. This act is called Cyber Disclosure. Recently, the SEC has demanded that six high profile public companies divulge information regarding cyber breaches to their investors - Amazon Inc, Google Inc., Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., American International Group Inc., Eastman Chemical Co., and Quest Diagnostics Inc.
But how does an organization become PCI compliant, especially in an age of dynamic technological changes and sophisticated intrusions? Here are three ways that can simplify PCI compliance in virtual environments.
- Adjust the scope of the anticipated solution: After investigation, an organization may have detailed all of the steps that they need to perform so that they can adhere to PCI compliance standards. However, sometimes a business cannot do it all, or at least not right away. Prioritize the tasks that must be done immediately down to those that are nice to have. Keep in mind the technology and resources required to complete the tasks as well as the timelines for completion.
- Tap into expertise: If an organization knows what they want to achieve but may not have the knowledge to do it thoroughly or efficiently, it is a good idea to look into vendors who do have that knowledge and expertise. They can also advise about upcoming security advancements, protect against new and insidious cyber attacks, and advise about what can be done to protect sensitive data both quickly, professionally, and affordably.
- Encrypt all data: Most importantly, every organization wanting to be PCI compliant needs to encrypt all data that they receive and transmit. Review all types of data to make sure that they are actually encrypted, and then determine if they are encrypted well and how the encryption can be strengthened. By monitoring encryption techniques on a regular basis, any business can help ensure that the data is well protected and less vulnerable to attacks.
In today’s world of free data exchange, it is an interesting thought to be addressed on whether network security really hold the importance as it used to be a few years earlier? But this is of great priority for corporate management and top level management to have a better understanding of the real need for professionally-managed network security.
One of the biggest problems for an officer retained to monitor compliance with data protection law is that, unlike the European Union, there is no overarching government regulation. Instead, the United States takes a piecemeal approach that relies on regulation, self-regulation and legislation written to address specific issues such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
One of the most exciting developments in business technology in recent years has been the development of a wide range of cloud solutions. These IT solutions are becoming so widespread and important that now, the United States Department of Defense has appointed a ‘cloud services’ broker who must issue approval before components of any department may move onto a cloud computing basis. The Chief Information Officer for the Department of Defense, Terry Takai, has announced that DISA, the Defense Information Systems Agency will serve as the designated broker.
Any business that deals with medical devices at any phase of the supply chain will need to prepare to comply with a new rule published in the Federal Register on July 10th. Full IT compliance may involve the use of heightened IT services, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses that may not be well staffed at present to deal with the requirements of the new mandate.
Although there was some confusion at first in the news media concerning the Supreme Court's landmark decision on President Obama's Affordable Care Act, now that experts have had a chance to digest the ruling fully, it is clear that the health care law has been upheld in most of its major details. This may not seem like it has IT security implications, but it actually does because the law moving forward means not only that states will need to set up exchanges for health insurance purchases, but that all ACOs will have to meet new requirements related to information technology.
A recent analysis of the first compliance audits for HIPAA, the nation's landmark health information security and privacy law, has found that small organizations are experiencing more difficulty than large ones in meeting the stringent IT security requirements of the regulation. According to Linda Sanches, who helped to supervise the audit process for the federal government, "HIPAA hasn't been a priority for several years...Risk assessments were done six years ago and haven't been looked at since."
Virtually unheard of a few years ago, IT governance is now one of the industry’s fastest growing fields. As such, it is essential that every IT person in your organization understand what it is, and why it's so important. This is particularly true for your company’s managers and officers, as their decisions related to IT governance could have a huge financial impact on your organization.
Payment processor First Data has revealed that over the course of the past year, there has been a surge of hacker incidences seeking unauthorized access to systems that use a point-of-sale approach for credit cards. Unfortunately, for small and medium sized businesses, the merchants that are being targeted most heavily by tech criminals are those that are classified as Level 4 by Visa. Such businesses, which process relatively low numbers of transactions each year, are responsible for slightly less than one-third of all credit card transactions that take place in the United States.
In a managed services model for IT support, the IT company managing your data center operations can implement a great deal of automation. This is to the benefit of the business or other organization contracting for managed services, and not just because automation tends to lower overall costs.
IT outsourcing encompasses a great many different functions that can help businesses to lower their costs and become leaner operations. One of the most useful of these functions is managed security services, sometimes simply referred to as managed security. There are several different ways managed security can help to create a more robust computing environment.
Any business or other organization, including non-profits, that deal in any way with patient medical information, needs to make sure that all systems and programs enable its workers to fully comply with the mandates embedded in HIPAA, the nation’s primary law regarding security and confidentiality of medical records. This fact was highlighted by a recent decision of an appellate court, which ruled that those who violate the provisions of HIPAA might face criminal penalties including jail time, even if the individuals involved had no idea that they were contravening the law.
A piece of federal legislation known as the Federal Information Management Security Act (FISMA), is making its way through the constitutional requirements for full adoption. Most recently, it passed the House of Representatives via Voice Vote. The FISMA bill would provide updates to the law, which was first enacted a decade ago in 2002.
Legislative gridlock and wrangling is nothing new, but one of the projects currently caught in a tug-of-war between Congress and the Executive Branch is an initiative known as the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). Funding in excess of $24 million, originally intended to help the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) create an online system of trusted credentials to aid in the authentication of online identies during web transacations, is now in doubt.
NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is currently revising its guidelines for how computer security incidents are handled in both the business and government sectors. The original guide was published in March of 2008 and was classed as Special Publication 800-61. At the time of its publication, the threat environment was very different from the one businesses must confront today. Then, attacks tended to be short and much easier to detect.
Businesses that use information technology to deal with customers in any way should become aware of the major provisions in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, issued by the White House on 23 February. The goal of the document is to provide better protection for consumers as well as offer businesses clear guidance in this area.
The federal government's HIPAA notification requirements insist that certain kinds of security breaches be reported. To date, almost 400 such breaches have been documented under the requirements, and nearly 20 million Americans have learned that their personal data may have been compromised. Obviously, this is beneficial neither to the individuals nor to the businesses involved. However, what can be done to prevent such breaches in the future.
The rise of SaaS, or software as a service, has meant that businesses no longer have to store rarely used data on site. Instead, they can offshore it to the cloud, thereby freeing up valuable infrastructure resources on the premises for data that is accessed far more frequently. Security experts, however, recommend that companies carefully analyze businesses offering managed services before they offshore certain kinds of data to the cloud.
In most organizations, keeping business computer systems and infrastructure secure from intrusions and hacking is one of the most critical functions performed by IT staff. Now, new information emerging from the Government Accountability Office is indicating that the Department of Homeland Security could do far more to help with this task.
The House Subcommittee devoted to cybersecurity and infrastructure protection is holding hearings this week regarding the founding of a National Information Sharing Organization to be run as a not-for-profit agency that will help to distribute information about online threats. Such information would be shared not only with the various levels of government but also with business entities across the nation.
No business wants to find itself the subject of a class action lawsuit, but a growing number of organizations are finding themselves in that unwelcome position because of alleged breaches of confidential information. Such breaches sometimes occur as a result of carelessness on the part of employees transporting physical repositories of data such as laptops or portable hard drives, but the majority of them are electronic breaches that happen when security measures fail to keep out a malicious attack launched through cyberspace.
One benefit of a managed program model for IT services is the fact that businesses using this approach to IT services have access to expert advice about improving its systems when needed. In-house IT personnel usually have many diverse responsibilities in small and medium sized businesses, and in many cases, IT personnel actually wear several hats and perform double or even triple job functions. This often leaves them very limited time to see to changes in IT needs. Frequently they do not have time to spare to stay current with developing cyber security needs and legislation emanating from national and state governments.
The Office for Civil Rights, a division of the federal government's Department of Health and Human Services, has released more information about the HIPAA audit program designed to assess compliance with the HITECH Act. This act mandates regular reviews of health care organizations and businesses to ascertain to what degree they are meeting the demands of HIPAA, which refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
At a recent Congressional Hearing, the Chief Information Officer of the United States Department of Homeland Security testified that migrating key data and systems to a cloud-computing platform might save the department as much 10% of its information technology costs. This cost saving level is significant and represents a way to free up needed resources so they will become available for other pressing needs, a situation that parallels the financial needs of business enterprises as well.
School districts and other public entities as well as many business enterprises are required by law to maintain an archive of the electronic communications that take place on their networks. This includes instant messaging communications as well as email. The requirement to do this came into effect in 2006 with the adoption of Rule 26 of the Federal Regulations on Civil Procedures, or FRCP.
It is not enough in today's business environment to comply with all of the governmental mandates that apply to your industry. A business enterprise must also be able to demonstrate without question that it has done so. Since it is difficult to pass an audit without sufficient proof of compliance, enterprises are left searching for IT solutions that will help them streamline the processes required by mandate as well as automate the creation of necessary documentation regarding compliance.