Government Offers Healthcare Federal Resources to Fight, Monitor Cyber Crime

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry has been overwhelmed by the number of cyberattacks, as well as the high volume of records breached in individual attacks. Now the federal government is reaching out to HIPAA-covered entities (CEs) and their business associates (BAs) to offer federal resources to combat and prevent attacks.

In its February Cyber Awareness Newsletter, the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a memo urging the government, international network defense communities, and the private sector to collaborate and share information about potential and current threats. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which is part of NCCIC, stand poised to assist by offering a place to report problems and help healthcare organizations monitor cybercrime in other industries.

“US-CERT is in a unique position to inform covered entities and business associates about their cybersecurity efforts as well as benefit from information sharing when a covered entity or business associate experiences a cybersecurity incident. Covered entities should report to USCERT any suspicious activity, including cybersecurity incidents, cyber threat indicators and defensive measures, phishing incidents, malware, and software vulnerabilities,” the memo stated.

US-CERT urges its constituents and partners to report incidents such as malware and phishing attempts to them. They can use the US-CERT Incident Reporting Form to report:

  • Attempts to gain unauthorized access to a system or its data
  • Unwanted disruption or denial of service
  • Abuse or misuse of a system or data in violation of policy

Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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