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It’s easy to be on the other side of a breach and point fingers. When we understand how a breach happened, the solutions seem like they should have been simple. These simple solutions (and preventative measures) are not always common sense though. In fact, as a whole, we don’t do a great job using these breaches to teach us the lessons they should.

We can use the 2013 Target breach as an example.  Target wasn’t breached due to a lack of their own network security. Instead, an attacker was able to access their system through a vendor. This vendor (an HVAC vendor, not even one that regularly interacts with Target’s network) was required by Target to access Target’s vendor portal. Attackers were able to retrieve log-in credentials from someone at the vendor to access Target’s portal. That was enough.

What’s not enough are the improvements that have been made across all organizations in vendor risk management since this incident occurred.

But we can still use it as a teachable moment now.

target

Where Target Went Wrong

When determining the vendor risk, there are two initial steps every organization should begin with.

First, organizations need to know who all of their vendors are. If you don’t have an inventory of every company you work with, how can you possibly know all the risks that your organization faces because of the vendors? Many organizations fail even this first step.

The second step (and where Target missed the mark) is classifying your vendors. It’s not enough to just know who your vendors are. Organizations also need to know the amount of risk the vendors pose to you. You can do this a number of ways, but the key is to categorize your vendors based on the types of information they touch (very sensitive or not sensitive) and how much data they have access to.

This is where Target went wrong.

How This May Have Been Avoided

It’s likely that Target (and many organizations, frankly) would look at an HVAC provider like Fazio Mechanical and immediately write them off as a low-risk vendor. In actuality, and because of the vendor’s access to Target’s online portal, Fazio Mechanical probably should have been classified as a medium-risk vendor.

Doing your due diligence in classifying a vendor as low risk is often enough to brush them off to the side and reevaluate their status in another year. However, in strong vendor risk management programs, medium-risk vendors are required to go through a vendor risk assessment process where the organization can get an understanding of the amount of risk that exists before allowing that vendor to continue to access its critical information.

It’s likely that Target did just that— brushed off their HVAC provider as a low-risk vendor and pushed them off to the side for reevaluation down the road.

Had they gone through an assessment with the vendor as if it were medium risk, they likely would have caught the lack of protection that was the reason behind the breach.

Vendor Risk Management is About Logic

Making assumptions in information security is detrimental. Making assumptions provides a vehicle for avoiding issues that may be hyper-pertinent to your business. You may think that a vendor is low risk when it actually belongs in a more sensitive category.

When organizations take objectivity out of the classification step of vendor risk management, they take out any assumptions and guesses. Assumptions and guesses erode your credibility.

If Target had gone through proper and objective steps to classify Fazio Mechanical (even if they classified them incorrectly) at least they would have been able to prove that they did their due diligence and that the breach was not a cause of their negligence.

information-security

How You Can Prevent This

Vendor risk management is all about simplifying, standardizing and making yourself defensible.

Build a list of your vendors first.

Then, work through standardized criteria to determine how much risk they pose to your organization. Get an understanding of exactly how they work with your organization and what kinds of data they touch. By doing that, you get an immediate grasp on how important it is that they handle their own information security practices well. If you do that, it’ll make sure you are defensible if something does go wrong, and likely help limit the amount of vendor-caused incidents you experience.

You can simplify this process by implementing a vendor risk management tool like VENDEFENSE to help you automate your vendor identification and classification. With VENDEFENSE, it’s likely that Fazio Mechanical would have been flagged as a medium risk vendor, and then steps would have been taken to improve their security once the risk assessment was completed.

For more information on vendor risk management and for a live look at the tool that can help make your organization’s vendor risk management program simplified, standardized and defensible, visit securitystudio.com.

Information security is a hot topic, and one that continues to be the concern of businesses all over the world. As more of our data lives online, and black-hat hackers become more sophisticated, the risk of our data being exposed is higher than ever. Unfortunately, there are many organizations who do not have the necessary skill sets or bandwidth to make information security a priority. Because of this, these organizations will often lean on their trusted managed service providers (MSPs) to assist them with their security objectives. Here are some statistics that show how offering information security as part of your service offering can make a big impact on both your clients, and your bottom line.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Only a third of organizations believe they have adequate resources to manage security effectively.’ #cybersecurity #mssp” quote=”Only a third of organizations believe they have adequate resources to manage security effectively.”]

Source: Ponemon Institute

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Worldwide security spending is forecast to reach $96B in 2018, up 8% from 2017.’ #cybersecuirty #infosec #mssp” quote=”Worldwide security spending is forecast to reach $96B in 2018, up 8% from 2017.”]

Source: Gartner

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘By 2019, total enterprise spending on security outsourcing services will be 75% of the spending on security software and hardware products, up from 63 percent in 2016.’ #cybersecurity #infosec #MSSP” quote=”Gartner predicts that by 2019, total enterprise spending on security outsourcing services will be 75 percent of the spending on security software and hardware products, up from 63 percent in 2016. “]

Source: Gartner

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Post data breach response activities include help desk activities, special investigative activities, remediation, legal expenditures, product discounts, identity protection services, etc. In the United States, these costs were $1.56 million per breach on average’ #infosec #databreach #MSSP” quote=”Post data breach response activities include help desk activities, special investigative activities, remediation, legal expenditures, product discounts, identity protection services, etc. In the United States, these costs were $1.56 million per breach on average.”]

Source: Ponemon Institue

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Global spending on cybersecurity products and services is expected to exceed $1 trillion cumulatively from 2017-2021, a 12-15% year-over-year increase.’ #infosec #cyberspending #MSSP” quote=”Global spending on cybersecurity products and services is expected to exceed $1 trillion cumulatively from 2017-2021, a 12-15% year-over-year increase.”]

Source: Cybersecurity Ventures

[click_to_tweet tweet=”#Demand for information security jobs is expected to rise to 6 million globally by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million employees.’ #cybersecurity #securityjobs #infosec #MSSP” quote=”Demand for information security jobs is expected to rise to 6 million globally by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million employees.”]

Source: Forbes

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘70% of employers around the world want to increase their cybersecurity staff size by 15% this year.’ #infosecjobs #cybersecurity” quote=”70% of employers around the world want to increase their cybersecurity staff size by 15% this year.”]

Source: Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS)

[click_to_tweet tweet=”’61 percent of breach victims in 2017 were businesses with under 1,000 employees.’ #databreach #cybersecurity #MSSP” quote=”61 percent of breach victims in 2017 were businesses with under 1,000 employees. “]

Source: Verizon

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘The U.S. was the most targeted country in the past three years, accounting for 27 percent of all targeted attack activity.’ #infosec #cyberattacks #hacking” quote=”The U.S. was the most targeted country in the past three years, accounting for 27 percent of all targeted attack activity.”]

Source: Symantec

[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘56% say they have made changes to their strategies and plans to take information security into account, but only 4% are confident they have fully considered their current strategy.’ #infosec #mssp” quote=”56% say they have made changes to their strategies and plans to take information security into account, but only 4% are confident they have fully considered their current strategy.”]

Source: EY

Most people are relatively aware of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It was created to make sure that medical records of patients remain safe, and that the medical providers accessing them are doing their best to ensure that’s the case. When most people think of HIPAA, they often go right to medical providers and hospitals. It’s important to understand that dental providers are also expected to adhere to HIPAA requirements. However, being HIPAA compliant poses challenges for dental providers. Here are some of those challenges, and what dental providers can do to combat them.

Failure to Identify Your Dental Practice as a HIPAA “Covered Entity”

Covered entities are required to follow HIPAA requirements. A dental practice is considered a covered entity if it transmits an electronic claim, payment, etc. to a dental plan or on behalf of a dental practice. It’s very likely that your dental practice is a covered entity and should be considering HIPAA requirements.

Missing Business Associate Agreements (BAAs)

Outside people or entities often have access to patient records and information. If your dental practice works with third parties of this nature, it’s important that you’re keeping tabs on them. Third parties are often root causes of breaches and data exposure. Continuously review your third parties and be sure you have BAAs for them.

Security Policies and Procedures

Well thought out, written plans are needed to ensure that your practice stays in compliance. Your HIPAA compliance policy should clearly state the responsibilities of your office and each staff member in protecting your patients’ private health information. The policy should clearly outline how your office handles and remediates various kinds of security breaches.

Training

Training employees is a critical component to HIPAA compliance, even for dental practices. Once you have your policies and procedures in place, it becomes critical that you train your employees on them. If someone’s job is affected by a change in your HIPAA policies or procedures, provide training on the change within a reasonable time after the change becomes effective. Training employees will limit the risk of breach.

Texting and Email

HIPAA applies to emails and text messages sent to a patient, such as for scheduling or appointment reminders. HIPAA also applies to emails and texts sent to another provider about a referral, with diagnostic images, or to discuss treatment. Here’s the kicker—HIPAA applies when a dentist emails patient records or information from a work email account to a personal email account, even if the dentist is doing so simply to finish up work from home later that evening. While HIPAA doesn’t prohibit using email or text to communicate patient information, it is important it’s done the proper way.

Social Media

A restaurant is very likely to respond to a Yelp, Facebook or Google review to either appreciate what has been said, or try to take corrective action. Dental practices must be a bit more careful. It’s easy to respond in a way that violates HIPAA rules. Ensure you and your employees understand privacy rules before responding to your practice’s reviews.

Other Media

As photos or videos are being taken of a patient there is the possibility that other patients may be included inadvertently. These photos and videos are quite often shared through social media and this can compromise those patients’ privacy. In addition, staff members of the practice might be included in the photo or video and this violates their privacy. Be cognizant of what is going on in the background of your images and videos so you do not compromise patient information.

Reporting Breaches

Breaches happen. It can and will happen to anyone at any time. It’s crucial that you understand what you need to report, and when. Covered dental practices must report all breaches of unsecured protected health information to the Office of Civil Rights, as well as to individuals and, in some cases, to the media. The bottom line is, have a plan for what to do in case an incident does occur, because it certainly can.

How can you get a better understanding of these challenges, so you know how to avoid and face them? A security assessment is a great tool to do that. Security assessments helps you identify where your gaps in security are. Once they’ve been identified, you can also use the assessment to develop action plans for improvement, meeting HIPAA regulations and proving to examiners that you have a strong data protection program. While there are many challenges as a dental provider to being HIPAA compliant and safeguarding patient information, getting a security assessment puts you on the fast track to understanding and preventing your patients’ data being compromised.