Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security measures are a requirement for businesses in the healthcare sector. The need for enterprises to strengthen their cyberdefenses against risks from cybercrime that can compromise protected health information cannot be overstated (PHI). Penetration testing is a smart, creative method for advancing cybersecurity initiatives.
Learn more about the medical device cybersecurity of HIPAA penetration testing rules that support businesses in maintaining compliance and security by reading on.
Explicit Instructions for HIPAA Penetration Testing
Penetration testing is not necessary for HIPAA compliance. Nonetheless, all healthcare and related institutions should think about utilizing some sort of penetration testing to protect PHI and ensure compliance given the unmatched analytical insights it can offer.
How Penetration Testing Keeps You Secure
Since that hacking is almost typically associated with crimes, the fact that penetration testing is a form of “ethical hacking” may seem paradoxical. Hackers, on the other hand, can use offensive to inform cyberdefense in the appropriate hands. The goal of a penetration test is to simulate an actual attack on your security systems. As a result, in order to get the most insightful results, it should be as realistic as possible.
Every possible attack vector must be used by the company you employ to “attack” your systems.
Furthermore, no two penetration tests are the same. The assets targeted by the attackers, your company’s security infrastructure, and the business relationship you establish with them, among other factors, will all affect the precise techniques they use. Nonetheless, most attacks may be divided into one of two categories, or a combination of the two. Let’s look into it.
Approaches for Pen-Testing: Internal and External
The attacker’s position in relation to knowledge of and access to your company’s security system is the key difference between penetration testing. One of the two categories given below best describes penetration tests in general:
- External tests—also referred to as “black box” or “black hat”—represent an actual physical and interpersonal assault on the company. Starting out, the attacker knows very little to nothing about the company save what is made publicly available. In order to plug any gaps, the goal is to look into the hackers’ initial sources of entrance into your systems.
- Internal – Often referred to as “white box” or “white hat,” these tests mimic an assault on the company’s physical or social infrastructure. The intruder begins their attack inside your property, or they already know about or have access to your security systems. In order to contain attacks as they happen, it is important to look into the hackers’ movements once they have gained access.
But, in other situations, businesses choose for a tailored combination of the two:
- The “gray box” or “gray hat” tests, which replicate any combination of the aforementioned, have a hacker or hacker team functioning in privileged but constrained positions. This kind of examination is carried out to look into the entry and any potential harm once inside.
- Whatever the kind of penetration test, the best one for your business is the one that helps you comply with all legal requirements, including HIPAA.
The HIPAA Framework: All Rules and Regulations explained
Businesses in the healthcare sector, where sensitive data necessitates HIPAA compliance, benefit particularly from penetration testing. This also holds true for businesses involved in healthcare. Healthcare clearinghouses and health insurance plan providers are examples of HIPAA-covered entities, as are healthcare providers like hospitals, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices.
Business partners of covered businesses must also maintain compliance because any violations by them could result in penalties for all parties. According to the Enforcement Regulation, infractions are subject to civil monetary fines of up to $50,000, criminal fines of up to $250,000, and jail terms of up to 10 years for the most extreme negligence or profiteering.
HIPAA Security Testing Standards are described.
As already mentioned, the HIPAA regulations do not contain any clauses requiring covered firms to perform penetration testing. The Security Rule is the closest regulation since it demands proficiency in risk analysis and risk management. Yet, a good risk and vulnerability management program that is unrelated to any simulated pen-tests can also do this. Pen testing is still a best practice for HIPAA compliance, on the other hand.
As a reference for the HIPAA Security Regulation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is in charge of promoting security across all US enterprises, released Special Publication (SP) 800-66 in 2008. Penetration testing is specifically encouraged by NIST to evaluate the security of potential vulnerabilities. Pen-testing is essential for businesses that want to assure stakeholders that they are going above and beyond the call of duty for compliance.
Let’s examine what a HIPAA-compliant penetration test might contain in more detail.
Optimizing Pen-Testing for HIPAA Privacy and Security Requirements
A comparable process is almost usually used in penetration testing. We advise roughly following the procedures listed below in order to maximize the HIPAA compliance formula:
- Hackers obtain basic information during the reconnaissance phase to inform their methods and final strikes. The exact types of PHI that your business stores, where it stores it, and how it protects it may be the subject of this section of your HIPAA penetration testing.
- Strategizing – Hackers will start formulating their plans for how to breach PHI, including multi-layered assaults, after acquiring information on access limitations and PHI.
- Attacking – Maybe the most important step, this is when hackers start their attack (s). A HIPAA-focused pen test should identify and catalog all of the instances in which the hackers’ attack methods violate particular Privacy and Security Regulations.
- Withdrawal – After starting an attack and seizing control, the hackers will try to leave while they are still untraceable, occasionally leaving trackers or other devices behind to let them re-enter later. For the Breach Notification Rule to be enforced, this phase is essential.
- The attacking team will eventually alert your internal IT specialists to their exploits. The report should summarize discoveries relevant to HIPAA standards and, ideally, highlight measures your organization can take to repair vulnerabilities exploited by hackers.