Will 2021 become the year of heightened cyber security? What will it take for the U.S. Government get their act together? Here we are reported yet another cyber attack that gained entry through a supply chain. 2021 Year of Cyber Security!
As a Cyber Security company, Enigma Forensics is always interested in the 4W’s and 1H of a Cyber Attack. We would be remiss if we didn’t write a post about the most recent SolarWinds Hack allegedly by the Russians. Did the Russians time this cyber attack at precisely the moment in time when the United States is preoccupied? Amidst the Coronavirus shutdowns, the election results, the holidays, and the COVID-19 relief plan, it’s almost as if this particular Russian Hack completely flew under the radar.
The attackers gained entry by using a software update sent out by Texas-based software company SolarWinds, which counts multiple U.S. government agencies as customers. In early December 2020, the news media reported at least 200 organizations, including U.S. government agencies and other companies around the world, have been hacked as part of this suspected Russian cyber attack.
The New York Times reported on December 13, 2020, “The Trump administration acknowledged on Sunday that hackers acting on behalf of a foreign government almost certainly a Russian intelligence agency, according to federal and private experts — broke into a range of key government networks, including in the Treasury and Commerce Departments, and had free access to their email systems.” We can’t find any reporting on what information was stolen.
Who raised the alarm?
It looks like FireEye, a computer security firm first raised the alarm about the Russian cyber attack after its own systems were compromised back in early Spring of 2020. What perfect timing to stage an attack considering the whole country is preoccupied with the rise of the pandemic! FireEye discovered a supply chain attack that was accessed through SolarWinds Orion business software updates in order to distribute malware that they called “SUNBURST.” Experts agree this is the work of highly-skilled actors and was performed with significant operational security. But, the real issue is why didn’t the government cyber protection agencies that are sworn to protect recognize the breach? It took an outside company to inform them of the cyber attack.
Where was the Cyber Attack aimed?
In this case, the U.S. government agencies seemed to be the target. As noted before, the hack was done through what is called a “supply chain attack,” in which malicious code is hidden in legitimate software updates and meant to target third parties. Could it have been the Chinese masquerading as the Russians? President Trump laid claim that there was potential it could have been the Chinese and not the Russians.
When was the Attack Noticed?
As reported by the New York Times, in a statement after a briefing for committee staff members, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who has often been among the sharpest critics of the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, said that the Treasury Department had acknowledged that “the agency suffered a serious breach, beginning in July, the full depth of which isn’t known.” But no one will say just how serious the breach was!
Today, as reported in the Hill, the headline reads, “Intel vice chair says government agency cyber attack ‘may have started earlier’.” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, that the cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies reported at the beginning of the month may have begun earlier than previously believed.
How did the Hackers Hack?
The hackers used malicious code inserted into legitimate software updates for the SolarWinds Orion software. This allowed the hacker to remotely access the victim’s electronic environment. In order to avoid detection, they used a very small footprint and went to significant lengths to lay low and blend in. Very stealth-like in nature! The malware attacked slowly and moved with precision, covering its tracks and using tools that were hard to detect. Does this sound familiar?
Check out another Enigma Blog
Related Articles – Recent North Korean Hack on Google
Phishing, Ransomware, Endpoint Security, IoT Devices and Cloud Jacking. What do they have in common? Top Five Cyber Attacks we are concerned about and you should be too!
The frequency of cyberattacks is growing. The following is Enigma Forensics’ top five cyber attacks that you should be made aware of.
Phishing Attacks are specific forms of email or text messages that are targeting victims to gain access to their personal information. Phishing messages often try to induce the receiver to click a link to a package shipment delivery message or other seemingly legitimate hyperlinks. It acts like a harmless or subtle email designed to get victims to supply login credentials that often become harvested by the attacker for later use in efforts to compromise their target. Sometimes phishing emails spoof the sender to be someone who has already been compromised. Once compromised, often times the compromised user’s mailbox is used to relay other outbound messages to known individuals in their saved contacts. This form of attack earned its name because it masquerades as an email of someone you may know and because you know the sender, you are more likely to nonchalantly open the email and click on the attachment to learn more about the content. With a click of a mouse, BOOM you can be compromised. This is a very easy and effective scam for cybercriminals. Warning: Do not open attachments or forward chain emails!
Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading. Drive-by downloading occurs when a user unknowingly visits an infected website and then malware is downloaded and installed without the user’s knowledge. The cybercriminal then holds the stolen information for ransom, thus the name! They may ask for a ransom payment in the form of digital currency such as bitcoin. Whether or not the victim pays the ransom depends on what information they have stolen or what criminals have threatened to do with the stolen information. Warning: Do not visit unsecured sites!
Remote Worker Endpoint Cyber attacks are currently the most popular because of the number of employees working from home caused by the Coronavirus. In the month of March, many workers were sent scurrying to their homes without companies placing proper cyber protection protocols. Employees are using their personal devices to conduct work and often are not fully patched, updated, and using encryption to protect their home devices against cybercriminals. Many company executives have been targeted at their homes, where they are much less likely to have commercial-grade firewalls designed to protect endpoints and company trade secrets.
IoT Devices attacks are a popular vehicle used by cybercriminals to establish a beachhead for launching lateral attacks across a home or work network. IoT devices involve extending internet connectivity beyond standard devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, to any range of traditionally dumb or non-internet-enabled physical devices and everyday objects. Embedded with technology, these devices can communicate and interact over the internet. They can also be remotely monitored and controlled. IoT Devices should be segmented and on a different network than corporate work from home devices. IoT devices pose a great threat because many of these devices lack automatic update processes and can become a beachhead for cybercriminal attacks in your home.
Cloud Jacking will increase with an estimated growth of cloud computing to be a $266.4 billion dollar industry in 2020. The idea of cloud storage makes one believe it is an improved option rather than the traditional on-premise computing storage. This will and has become a major security concern and has created a strong urgency to increase the creation of cloud security measures. Cybercriminals will up their game and cloud jack data information whenever possible. The race in on to see who does it cloud security better; the good guys or the bad guys. To protect against Cloud Jacking cyber attacks, organizations should enable two-factor authentication options, such as Google authenticator.
Two-factor authentication requires two of the three following means of authentication:
Something you know (A password)
Something you have (A key fob or cell phone authenticator)
Something you are (Retina Scan, Facial recognition, fingerprint)
We are proud to announce Lee Neubecker was once again nominated by his peers as one of the world’s leading practitioners in the Digital Forensic Expert field. Congratulations Lee!
Congratulations Lee Neubecker!
Enigma Forensic’s President and CEO Lee Neubecker was nominated by his peers as one of the world’s leading practitioners in the field of Digital Forensic Experts and is listed in Who’s Who Legal Investigations 2020 publication as such.
Since 1996 Who’s Who Legal has identified the foremost legal practitioners and consulting experts in business law and investigations based upon comprehensive, independent research.
Who’s Who Legal Investigations publications said, Lee Neubecker, is a “great expert” who receives widespread plaudits from sources who note he is “one of the most visible people in the field”.
Nominees have been selected based on comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practitioners worldwide.
Small businesses are getting hit hard. Starting with government directed closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now the most recent looting and protestor damage. Small businesses are more vulnerable than ever. If you own a small business be on the lookout for cybersecurity threats and learn more on how to protect your business.
Small Businesses must on the lookout for cybersecurity threats!
Small businesses have been besieged on all fronts. First, out of left field they were struck by COVID-19 and the loss of business. Then knocked down by the most recent violent protests. All these hits create multiple vulnerabilities to yet another threat; cybersecurity attacks. Now more than ever, small businesses need to be aware of an impending cybersecurity breach. Enigma Forensics focuses on cybersecurity and would like to share what are the most common cybersecurity threats and how small businesses can protect themselves.
What are the most common security threats?
There are three common cybersecurity threats each small business owner must be aware of; Malware, viruses, and phising. Malware is an umbrella name for a software designed to attack and destroy computers, servers, and to obtain client information. Malware can be engineered in many different malicious ways. Viruses are designed as a computer program that replicates itself and inserts code into your system to modify existing programs. It basically creates havoc in your system and is extremely difficult to delete. Phising is inserted by a clicking on or opening an email that presents itself as a legitimate email. It sparks curiosity and plays on the simplest of emotions.
What are some easy tips for small businesses to protect themselves?
Enigma Forensics encourages everyone to purchase cybersecurity insurance. This can help defer costs if you are attacked. We definitely suggest to hire a professional to assess your system and identify risks. Another less costly tip is to change your passwords. Make them as difficult and unique as possible and don’t store them on your systems. Be sure to include mobile device security if you or your employees check emails on mobile devices. Train your employees to recognize cybersecurity threats and how to avoid and report them.
Enigma Forensics related articles
See the link below for The Department of Homeland Security guide
How can we put an end to this protest? Cell phone forensics is the key to finding out who is organizing violent protests and looting by checking social media sites. It’s that simple!
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown recognizes social media contributed to the rise in looting
Is Cell Phone Forensics the key to ending the looting? Chicago is reeling back from the third day of unrest and violent protest. Not only are we healing from a global pandemic we are now faced with the threat of violence in all of our neighborhoods. On Monday, we witnessed the third day of violent protest. It was reported that law enforcement arrested approximately 699 people and sadly, 2 people who were shot and killed in Cicero. Feelings of anger, frustration and despair are common threads that bind all of us. The question on everyone’s mind is when is all this going to stop? The Chicago Police department is dealing with a great deal; protecting the neighborhoods and at the same charged with stopping violence. The same violence that was started by a deadly police action.
Many have heard on mobile scanners that hundreds of people driving in caravans are traveling into the city from outside Chicago. Some believe these caravans are organized on social media and are encouraging violent protest and looting. Forensic technology can stop this type of organized violent protest. Once a bad actor has been apprehended, law enforcement needs to perform remote cell phone forensic analytics to discover social media posts, connect friends and followers to thwart passing of information. This is a new age of technology and our police department needs to be able to trace violent networks of people to respond in real time as to prevent personal attacks an property damage.
Enigma Forensics is an expert cyber forensic company that offers forensic imaging of cell phone, laptop and other electronic devices. We are able to analyze the electronic footprint left behind and provide detailed tracing to assist in litigation.
More about expert technology and cell phone forensics
Chicago’s Enigma Forensics Data Analytic and Cyber Security Expert Lee Neubecker has identified top counties in the country that should consider going on lock down because of the alarming climbing numbers. Some of these counties may not know they are approaching a dangerous risky situation. Lee has been taking a deeper dive on the most recent Coronavirus stats identifying the most at risk counties. Lee was way ahead of CNBC’s report that President Trump has called for classifying Coronavirus risk county by county!
Check out this video to see if your County is on his list!
What are some of the potential problems for an organization trying to secure Windows 7? Cyber Security Experts Lee Neubecker and Atahan Bozdag say it’s analogous to owning a home and not maintaining it, eventually something breaks and it’ll cost you a fortune to fix!
Securing Windows 7 Environments
On January 14, 2020, Microsoft announced support for Windows 7 has ended. As reported by Microsoft, “Technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC are no longer available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.” It’s official…it’s the end of Windows 7! We have to end our love affair with Windows 7 and move onto Windows 10. What does that mean for the end-user? Well, if you stay on Windows 7, you will deal with constant security threats, and there will be no more updates or support. If you upgrade it’ll cost you approximately $139 for a home computer, $199 for a small to large business and $309 to upgrade a workstation that needs a faster powerful operating system.
Cyber Security & Computer Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and “Fellow Forensicator” Atahan Bodzdag break down what impact is imposed on cyber security when computers no longer receive service patch updates or support for Windows 7. They discuss the usage of Windows 7 by the Health Care organizations that are resistant to change or have application that have not been ported to work with Windows 10.
Atahan Bodzdag provides an overview of top three items that all organizations dependent on Windows 7 should be undertaking to maintain cyber security resilience.
Window 7 Security Vulnerabilities
The Video Transcript Follows
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I’m here today with Adahan Bozdag. Thank you for being on the show Adahan.
Atahan Bozdag: Thank you for inviting me, Lee.
LN: Atahan is a fellow forensicator and cybersecurity expert. He works within the healthcare sector and works internally to an organization, doing some of the things I do as an expert witness outside an organization. And today we’re going to be talking about Windows 7, the end of the life cycle of Windows 7, and some of the cybersecurity issues relating to organizations that are in Windows 7 and are trying to prevent future data breaches. So, Adahan, could you tell everyone a little bit about what Microsoft did recently as it relates to Windows 7?
AB: Well, as you said, Windows 7 end of life cycle happened. It’s was January 14, 2020. They stop patching Windows 7 environment, so it is vulnerable to any attack after the date. January 14, 2020.
LN: So then when people report their CVEs, detailing vulnerabilities on Windows 7, eventually they’re up there for the hacker world to see. and to exploit because Microsoft’s not patching that operating system.
AB: Very true. It’s a dream come true for the hackers.
LN: Yeah, well, no more data patches means what exactly?
AB: It means that you are more vulnerable to attacks.
LN: So every day the risk of cyber compromise only grows for organizations still on Windows 7.
AB: Very true.
LN: So, what is for the non-technical person out there, could you explain what this is analogous to?
AB: Well, I can give you the house analogy. You buy a house and you don’t do any upgrades. You don’t do any maintenance. Something is going to break. So this is what’s going to happen with Windows 7. Because there’s no more patch, there are no more updates, there’s no more security involved in it. At one point if you still continue using it, you will get breached.
LN: So, it’s kind of like your locks start to fall off the door at a particular time
AB: Exactly, exactly.
LN: And if you consider the contents of a health care provider, to have sensitive data like patient medical records, electronic medical records, protected health care information, or PII, all of that stuff is vulnerable to exfiltration?
AB: Yes, very, yes.
LN: So, why are people still using Windows 7, given this threat?
AB: Well, some applications are not upgraded to work with Windows 10, and what happens. So then a lot of people working in the corporate environment are resistant to change because the applications are not working with Windows 10. So those,
LN: Or they just like the cleanness of Windows 7, relative to Windows 10, which
LN: It has a lot of bloatware loaded on it if you’re getting the version off the shelf.
AB: True, true.
LN: Who really needs to have all these games on their environment?
AB: Exactly. But at the same time, every healthcare company that, you know, even my company that I’m working for, we have a golden image that we create, which are stripped down from all those games and stuff like that. So we don’t use those. But, to get there, there is always an image needs to be updated in Windows 10.
LN: So what are some of the potential problems for the organization that stays on Windows 7 and just doesn’t get with the program to migrate off?
AB: Well, first thing is, APT.
LN: What’s an APT?
AB: APT is an Advanced Persistent Threat.
LN: That’s like that nation-state, Big Brother lurking on the chips of the computer device, waiting for a moment to attack, right?
AB: They can infiltrate you. They can do nothing, just sit and wait, and look at your data. And we have seen that in many breaches. The time that you found out that the company was breached, they’ve been in the system for more than six, seven months. So they were collecting data slowly by slowly, and at one point they turned the engine on, and then the doomsday attack starts. Suddenly you start losing data. Deletion happens and then, they grab everything out from your system.
LN: “So there’ ve been a lot of nation-states making threats.
AB: Oh, very much so.
LN: This could be a huge opportunity for certain nation-states to get themselves onto hackable systems and merely wait until the opportune time to strike is such that they could magnify the damage.
LN: We have a power outage,
LN: And they were to strike at that time, that would probably magnify the damage significantly.
AB: Very, very much. And now you’ve been talking about those in your other videos about these kinds of things. The cyber realm is another way of attacking our national interests. Health care is one of them.
LN: So let’s assume that an APT gets into a health care environment, health care provider’s systems, and they’re able to access electronic medical records, EMR, patient health care information, what might they want to do with that information?
AB: Well, patient records, especially the names, social security numbers, medical records, everything is sellable in the Darkweb.
LN: And it’s worth a lot more than just giving social security numbers.
AB: It is. True. It’s like a single record may go for $35. If you got about 10,000 records, 10,000 records times about $35.
LN: It’s likewise though, that data exfiltrates, and it gets out there in the market, the health care providers are looking at potentially significant financial damages, as well as reputational damage.
AB: Yes, yes. Because when these things happen, suddenly you have to report this either to the government or to the media. And then afterward the penalties will come. And investigations cost a lot of money. Penalties are really severe And doing all of these things, and if you’re still in the Windows 7 environment you’re actually opening yourself to these kinds of attacks.
LN: Yeah so, when these data incidents happen, as you like to call them, what do you see the role of internal IT investigations versus an outside computer forensic firm like myself specializes in data breaches and EMR. What is the typical role and function of the internal versus the outside expert witness?
AB: Internal it’s you know like myself, we do the investigation internally but we would love to hire, I mean we would like to hire an outside investigation, to give unbiased information. Saying that if you go to the legal ways that you will be able to say that hey, I’m not involved with this company I’m doing this…
LN: Sometimes, there’s benefit to having an outside forensic expert that’s independent speak only to the issues that are relevant and not necessarily have a knowledge of who was in IT that got fired or any of that other stuff that isn’t really relevant to the investigation but could create risk for the health care provider.
AB: True. True.
LN: So with regard to reporting obligations, let’s say you find that there was indeed exfiltration of patient data and that information left the organization, what are the reporting obligations?
AB: Well the best way that I can tell right now is if you were at the hhs.gov or consult your attorney it will actually tell you especially the website, will tell you what are the reporting obligations. There are multiple levels. If I go into details over here, it’s not going to last.
LN: Got it. And so, we talked about exfiltration but what can happen if someone gets in and actually deletes patient medical records?
AB: Well, the first thing is in hospital systems that patient who’s going to be either going into surgery or something like that, they will not be able to get, pull out the data.
LN: And so people who have a need for critical life-saving care, might actually die.
LN: Or worse yet, if someone were to alter the medical records
AB: That is a threat
LN: And say instead of your left lung having cancer it’s your right lung and you get the wrong lung removed, that’s a real problem
AB: It’s a big problem.
LN: So if you have to say, wrap it up what would be the top three recommendations you make to health care organizations to help defend against the potential future data breach that’s from running Windows 7?
Top 3 Measures to Defend Windows 7
First is implementing operate plan to leave Windows 7, immediately. That’s a given fact.
Second, isolate Windows 7 legacy into VDIs which we call the Virtual Desktop Environments. Isolate them from the network.
And the third, make sure that your disaster recovery is in place and you do periodic tabletop exercises.
LN: Well thanks so much, that was really informative. I appreciate you coming on the show.
Chicago Tribune reported, “US says Chinese military behind Equifax breach that stole Americans’ personal data” Data Breach Response Experts Lee Neubecker and Kari Rollins say “Data Breach is inevitable!” They give us advice on how to prepare.
Sedona Conference Incident Response Guide
It is not a question of if you will fall victim to a Data Breach incident, it is when. Organizations large and small need to be ready for when cybercrime strikes. Data Breach Response Experts Lee Neubecker and Kari Rollins know how to prepare for a data breach without breaking the bank. Kari is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group for Sheppard Mullin in New York, and also a member of the Sedona Conference, Working 11 group. Kari describes the Sedona Working 11 as a group of Cyber Breach Experts who design tools and how-to resources that are available to the general public through the Sedona Conference website. The Sedona Conference is a nonprofit research and educational institute that brings together jurists, lawyers, experts, and academics. Kari and Lee share their combined knowledge and talk about the options available to small to midsize companies that may not have the resources in-house necessary to respond to a data breach incident.
Watch Part 1 of our 3 Part Series on Data Breach Readiness follow:
The Video Transcript of Data Breach Response Experts Kari Rollins and Lee Neubecker Follows
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, I’m here today with Kari Rollins. She’s the co-managing partner of the New York office of Sheppard Mullins. Thanks for being on the show.
Kari Rollins (KR): Thank you for having me.
LN: And I had Kari, she’s a specialist in the whole area of privacy related litigation involving data breaches and personal information and what not. She’s also a member of the Sedona Conference. Could you tell everyone a little bit about what the Sedona Conference does?
KR: Sure, so the Working Group 11 is the Working Group that is dedicated to helping companies and other practitioners understand some of the hot topics and legal issues in data privacy and cybersecurity today that are rapidly evolving as the laws in that area change. And the Sedona Conference itself is dedicated to pulling together practitioners from private sector, public sector, judges, regulatory authorities who all come to talk about their experiences in these different specialized areas so that it you know, you have a knowledge base with a wide variety of perspectives.
LN: Great and so I asked you to come on to talk a little bit about the data breach incident response guide that the conference came up with. Can you tell us what this is about?
KR: Sure, so as a member of the Working Group 11, several of us at the request of Sedona Conference came together to put together what our views were on how to handle a data breach, or an incident response from the very beginning of the breach life cycle, i.e. planning for and anticipating a breach, through the breach investigation itself and even thinking about issues that may be implicated in a post-breach regulatory inquiry and how companies can best defend themselves and prepare for what is now today, the inevitable, a data incident.
LN: So this is a free resource available to anyone?
KR: It is a resource available to anyone. It’s really a practitioner’s guide. We think this is probably best used by small to midsize companies who may not have the resources or staff in-house, legal staff in-house dedicated to responding to incidents. And it’s, though it can be used by any practitioner, any counsel, any type of company, we do expect that this is probably something that would be useful to small to midsize companies as really a guideline and material to help them issue spot and understand what are the issues in incident response? What should I be concerned about? What are the pitfalls? What am I going to need to be on the lookout for?
LN: Great, and if people want more information about this or want to download the guide, where can they obtain it from?
LN: Great, so in our next segment, we’re going to be talking a little bit about what should be done before a data breach happens.
LN: And then in our third segment, we’ll talk a little bit about okay, the data breach happened or an incident happened, what do you need to do to respond? So watch those segments and tune in again. Thanks Kari for being on.
KR: Thank you.
View Related Articles here
More Information about Kari Rollins and Sheppard Mullin
Behind lifesaving medical devices are Cyber Experts hard at work to secure and protect Patient Health Information (PHI). Check out this video on securing medical devices.
Cutting edge medical devices save lives! Not only do they save lives but they carry a vector of complicated communications and a unique set of security challenges. Cyber Security Expert Lee Neubecker, sits down with Sterling Medical Device’s top engineer, Keith Handler who develops cyber protection and security for their client’s medical devices.
Sterling Medical Devices helps companies design and develop mechanical & electronic medical devices and follows them through FDA approval. The conversation is educational and important to those interested in knowing how medical devices are cyber protected and secured. In this video, they outline the concerns that relate to the control, security, and confidentiality of the patient’s health information (PHI) when using these medical devices.
The transcript of Part 1 of our Series in Medical Device Security
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Kieth Handler here on my show from Sterling Medical Devices. Keith is a top engineer here that helps ensure cybersecurity and resilience and protection of medical devices of their clients. They help assist through the FDA certification process. Keith, thank you, thank you for being on my show.
Keith Handler: Thanks for having me, Lee.
LN: So can you tell me a little bit about what your firm does and how it helps clients in cybersphere?
KH: Yeah, sure. Sterling Medical Devices is a 13485 certified product development firm. We help various companies design and develop electro-mechanical medical devices. Pretty much from, anything from concept all the way to submission to the FDA.
LN: So, can you tell everyone what, ISO…?
LN: 13485 Certification means?
KH: Yes that is, that is the ISO standard that defines the product development and manufacture of medical devices. It defines all the processes that we generally run our business by.
LN: Okay, so what are some of the concerns that you have as it relates to the patient personalized information, sometimes known as PHI? Is that right?
KH: Yeah, patient help information, that’s correct. Well, you know, our first concern, of course, with any medical device is safe. We want to make sure that the devices are treating patients as intended and not presenting any undue harm to the patient or anybody else. The second thing is the Patient Help Information. It’s very important that we maintain confidentiality for all patients, in any of these systems. Diagnostics, their personal information, all need to be protected.
LN: These devices, they have PHI, they also have, they also are involved with the generation of electronic medical records, known as EMR, that feed into the various hospital systems that are used to provide and deliver healthcare to users. As it relates to this, what are some of the top concerns that you try to address as it pertains to safety for your clients?
KH: Well, when it comes to information or command and control that can be done remotely on a device, it’s again important to maintain the integrity of those communications, and to protect everything there. One of the hardest aspects, I would say, is integrating a medical device into a larger hospital system. We may have control over the confidentiality of the information, and of the commands that are sent and received within a device, but as soon as we connect to an external system we lose control of that data. So, it becomes a unique challenge to try and make sure we are protecting, and not only in our system but also in any system ours might integrate with.
LN: Yeah, and there’s such a myriad of ways devices connect, Bluetooth, wifi–
LN: I’m not sure if medical devices use infrared or–
LN: Near band communication, but there are all these vectors of communication that create new threats and potentials for compromise.
KH: And typically medical hardware is pretty cutting edge, you know, some of the things that they’re trying to treat now still can’t. So all of these things that you’re bringing up, all exist in medical, all need to be protected.
LN: Great, so in our next segment we’ll be talking a little bit more about the FDA, the certification process, and some of the standards that devices might undergo to help ensure adoption by the FDA, and to make them commercially viable to be sold in the United States. And then, in our third segment, we’ll talk more about protecting devices against cyber compromise, the firmware and software that gets embedded into these devices, and other things that should be done to help keep medical devices safe and secure. Thanks for being on the show today.
KH: Thanks again for having me, Lee.
Related Materials on Medical Malpractice
See more about Sterling Medical Devices on their website.
Understanding EMR Audit Trails is important to any company dealing with (PHI). They must have all the necessary security measures in place and follow them to ensure HIPAA Compliance.
Understanding EMR Audit Trails is essential to a patient’s medical history In medical malpractice litigation. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) maintain an audit trail including all of the metadata. This EMR audit trail is a piece of highly relevant evidence as to who accessed what in the record, what entries were made and/or changed, by whom and when. Computer Forensic experts are key to effective electronic discovery during medical malpractice litigation.
How do hospitals record, protect, and store data? HIPAA sets the guidelines for the most highly sought after information by the world’s best technology hackers. Medical records are worth 4 times more than credit card information. Managing Personal Healthcare Information (PHI) places Healthcare facilities at risk of cyber attack 24/7, 365 days a year.
Check out this video with Enigma Forensics, President & CEO, Lee Neubecker, and John Blair, a noted Healthcare Industry Cyber Security Expert where they discuss the importance of protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
Understanding EMR Audit Trails video transcript follows:
This is the third of the last video in the three-part series on Health Care Industry Cyber Threats: Watch Part 1,Watch Part 2
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have John Blair, a cyber security expert in the field of healthcare, and John is also involved with understanding patient medical, electronic medical record (EMR) audit trails, so I asked him to come on the show and talk a little bit about that with me. John, thanks for coming back on the show.
John Blair: Thanks, Lee. Glad to be back.
LN: So John, can you tell everyone a little bit about what HIPAA requires of healthcare organizations as it relates to tracking data of caregiving and the patients?
JB: Sure. Most of this is obviously directed at hospitals, but HIPAA also has things called business associates, and any interaction from any entity with, or any user with, PHI is going to be subject to these audit logging. Hospitals use systems called EMRs, so generally those, the audit trails are built into the EMRs by default, but obviously entities can turn those off if they so choose or configure them differently. HIPAA requires that you pretty much log any interaction, whether it’s read-only, view-only, edit, whatever that interaction might be. Identify the user, identify the time, what was done to the record, and that has to be maintained for several years. So it doesn’t matter what a user does with the record. Even if they just view it, that counts as a valid interaction and has to be logged and maintained.
LN: In fact, all of these hospital software systems out there have to be HIPAA compliant, or else the hospitals wouldn’t be able to use the software packages. Isn’t that true?
JB: Right, right. There’s a lot of federal regulations regarding that, that the standards that these systems have to meet in order to get refunds or rebates from the government.
LN: So Medicare funding, reimbursement, obviously is important.
JB: All of that stuff. And audit logs of user activity and interactions, or any interaction with PHI, is a critical component of that.
LN: You know, what I’ve seen is sometimes despite the software packages being EMR, audit trail compliant, that there’s the ability for the software that’s deployed to be altered so that the audit trails aren’t retained as long as required by law.
JB: Yeah, sometimes the storage of the audit logs, it can be overwhelming. So oftentimes they are archived offsite or inappropriate access is given to the audit log itself. And then it possibly can be changed, which ruins the integrity of the log, obviously, and that would be a very bad thing should something come up down the road and you needed that log.
LN: Yeah, and certainly, someone who has the master database administrator password to that back-end system, they could do whatever they wanted.
JB: Yup. But there’s supposed to be logs of that activity, as well, and reviews of those logs, but you’re absolutely right. If you’re an administrator, you can do a lot of damage.
LN: Yeah, I’ve assisted clients before involved in litigation, medical malpractice litigation, with just seeking the truth of what’s there in the records. Most of the time, they think many hospitals are compliant and do have those audit trail records.
LN: But, they don’t necessarily want to make that data readily available.
JB: No, they don’t. And it depends, it’s a case-by-case scenario, under the advice of counsel and things like that, but it’s very, very sensitive information, and obviously, it’s a public relations nightmare to have a breach of patient data, so they take those things very, very seriously.
LN: Absolutely. So can you tell everyone what PHI stands for?
JB: It’s Protected Health Information, as defined by HHS, there are 18 very specific fields that comprise PHI. PHI is a subset of PII, which is Personally Identifiable Information, but with respect to healthcare, it’s primarily PHI that we’re worried about and those 18 identifiable fields.
LN: Why would hackers want to target health care records?
JB: It’s far more valuable now than several years ago, it was credit card information, basically for year after year. Now, the credit card companies and technology with respect to how quickly a card can be replaced and deactivated. And so, just more money in it to steal medical information. And there’s more flexibility, as well. You can go get drugs, you can do a variety of things, whereas, with the credit card, it’s just money.
LN: If people wanted to launch a targeted scam on individuals, certainly having records that would enable them to filter patients that have Alzheimer’s, might give them an unfair advantage at duping people out of their savings.
JB: Absolutely. Because generally if you get someone’s entire record, you’re getting everything about them: their Soc number, their address, phone numbers, relatives, I mean, all this information is now at your disposal. And loans can be taken out in their names, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
LN: So Electronic Medical Records, known as EMR, represent an important target that hackers seek, because of the value of that information, and the uniqueness.
JB: Yup. The price of those records, per record, now varies, but I believe it’s in the $150, $200 range per record if it’s a breach now, and laptops can hold hundreds of thousands of records. So it can be very, very expensive.
LN: But it seems that this is a problem, too, that it isn’t just localized to any one area, it’s universal.
JB: Yeah, it’s across the board. Anyone dealing with PHI has this problem.
LN: How does the cost of a patient medical record compare to a credit card record, compare to the black market?
JB: Yeah, for the last several years, medical records have gained in value every year, while financial records, credit card information have devalued. And it’s to the point now where medical information’s worth four times as much as financial information. And that’s only increasing.
LN: So does that mean that people that work in the healthcare sector in IT and security are going to get paid four times as much as the people of the financial sector?
JB: I wish.
LN: Well, thanks again for being on the show, this was a lot of good stuff. I appreciate this.
JB: Thanks, Lee, appreciate it.
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