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Healthcare industry group builds cybersecurity threat center

By Michael Cooney
April 24, 2012 12:28 PM ET

Network World - Looking to address growing cybersecurity threats in the healthcare industry the Health Information Trust Alliance today said it has established a centralized Cybersecurity Incident Response and Coordination Center where organizations can report incidents and get help remediating electronic medical security problems.

The 5-year-old HITRUST group -- which is led by an amalgamation of healthcare and computing industry giants such as WellPoint, Kaiser Permanente and Cisco -- said it created the center with an eye toward helping the U.S. healthcare industry battle cyberattacks with timely alerts and by sharing of relevant cybersecurity threat and event information.

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"The group will focus on cybersecurity threats and events targeted at healthcare organizations in areas, including, but not limited to, networks, mobile devices, workstations, servers and medical devices. This sharing of information is crucial for organizations' preparedness, protection and crisis management," the group stated.

"The center is working initially with 14 leading industry organizations, representing health plans and health systems, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to share various security incident information. The center will collaborate with HITRUST and others to identify and remediate incidents, and will also obtain and synthesize cyber threat and response information from numerous other sources to make the information more readily available to center participants. HITRUST will also lead the center's participants in evaluating appropriate tools and related security mechanisms to support the center's efforts," the group stated.

The HITRUST organization has already established what it calls a Common Security Framework that can be used by any and all organizations that create, access, store or exchange personal health and financial information.

"As the healthcare industry continues its conversion process to full patient electronic medical records, it will most certainly become a more frequent target of cybersecurity attacks, and having such a system in place in the near future will be key to collaboratively responding and preventing such attacks," said Jorge DeCesare, chief data security administrator of Dignity Health, in a statement.

A recent Network World story helps define the cybersecurity problems healthcare organizations are facing. The article noted that a biannual survey of 250 healthcare organizations shows the percentage experiencing a patient data breach is up. And with the growth in electronic records-keeping, more of those problems are originating from laptops and mobile devices rather than a human slip-up in handling paper documents.

"Use of new technologies, in particular mobile devices in the workplace, has skyrocketed, creating new operational efficiencies and security vulnerabilities," noted the survey report, entitled the "2012 HIMSS Analytics Report: Security of Patient Data." The organization Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society also pointed out, "As mobile devices proliferate in exam rooms and administrative areas, so do the associated vectors of potential attack. Adding to this are the risks from employee negligence and organizational policies that have not kept pace with ever-changing technology."

Originally published on Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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