Business Continuity, Cyber Security, Data Breach, Disaster Recovery, News Events, Tip of the Week, Uncategorized, Vulnerability Testing & Management

Breach exposed sensitive information about 143 million consumers

It’s been called the worst data breach in U.S. history. Attackers stole half the U.S. population’s social security numbers from Equifax in July, but the company only notified customers in September. The fallout has been devastating, with class action lawsuits being filed and consumers demanding free credit monitoring.

“Equifax has been hit with dozens of lawsuits from shareholders, consumers and now one filed by a small Wisconsin credit union that represents what could be the first by a financial institution attempting to preemptively recoup losses caused by alleged fraud the hack could cause” as reported by the Washington Post.

Equifax provided a website for customers to search if they were affected. However, on multiple occasions, the company’s official Tweeter account directed customers to a fake phishing site instead.  See imageNick Sweeting fake website small

The company’s stock price has fallen 25 percent since they announced the hack Sept. 7 according to ABC news. In the meantime, Equifax had a meeting with investors in New York in hopes to contain the fallout.

To receive information on how to prevent this type of breach visit

Virtual Auditor’s Virtual Security Officer Server (VSOS) is a unique, fully-managed, information security auditing assessment solution that helps you establish a formal information security program within your organization. VSOS is packed with powerful vulnerability, auditing and testing tools that can help identify security vulnerabilities within your environment, as well as gaps in your existing security program.

Quick tips on how consumers can protect themselves

  • Monitor your credit reports closely
  • Be aware that scammers can use your sensitive information at any time
  • Freeze your credit report to halt thieves from opening new credit cards or loans using your name

Equifax Cybersecurity Incident:

“To learn more about the cybersecurity incident, including whether your personal information was potentially impacted, or to sign up for complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring”, please go directly to their site:


Cyber Security, Data Breach, Education, Tip of the Week

Day after a holiday December 26, 2016 avoid this scam



Cyber criminals are similar to any businessman who want maximum profit for the least investment. To assist cyber criminals with their goal is called Business Email Compromise (BEC) also known as CEO Fraud. An absolutely profitable scam and does not need much to be lucrative and cost-effective for the criminals.

“The FBI Boston Division issued a warning of a dramatic rise in business e-mail compromise scams or BECs, which target businesses of all sizes and types and have resulted in massive financial losses in Boston and other cities. Globally, since October 2013, more than $3.1 billion in actual and attempted losses have been reported.” Press Release December 20, 2016

  • Reported losses totaled 33 million dollars approximately
  • Range from 500 to 5.9 million dollars
  • Average loss per scam 90,000 dollars
  • About 13 million dollars has been successfully returned

“The BEC scam is one of the fastest growing schemes we’ve seen over the past few years. The perpetrators leave a long wake of financial and emotional damage, stealing money from small businesses—leaving them unable to pay bills; and from families in the process of buying a home, all but erasing their dreams of home ownership,” Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division

Here’s how scammers accomplish their deeds:

  • Spoof a company e-mail/phishing email
  • Use social engineering to assume the identity of the CEO, trusted vendor, or person with authority
  • Research employees who manage money
  • Use language specific to the company they are targeting
  • Then scammers request a wire transfer to an account controlled by them

Common recipients are real estate agents, title companies, and attorneys in the midst of real estate transactions; bookkeepers; accountants; controllers; and chief financial officers.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). This organization has been around since 2000 and has dealt with cyber crime including online fraud, computer intrusions, economic espionage, online extortion, international money laundering, identity theft, and a growing list of internet facilitated crimes.  IC3’s mission is to provide the public with a reliable and convenient reporting mechanism to submit information to the FBI for investigation and public awareness.

Top 3 Business Email Compromise (BEC) involving 3.1 billion dollar and Statistical Data

  1. January 2015, 1,300% increase in identified exposed losses
  2. Scam has been reported by victims in all 50 states and in 100 countries
  3. fraudulent transfers have been sent to 79 countries with the majority going to Asian banks located within China and Hong Kong

Victims of the BEC scams are both small and large businesses with a variety of good/services. Scams are also linked to lottery, employment, romance, and rental frauds.

Here’s a sample of BEC complaints from the IC3.

  • Businesses and associated personnel using open source e-mail accounts are predominantly targeted.
  • Individuals responsible for handling wire transfers within a specific business are targeted.
  • Spoofed e-mails very closely mimic a legitimate e-mail request.
  • Hacked e-mails often occur with a personal e-mail account.
  • Fraudulent e-mail requests for a wire transfer are well-worded, specific to the business being victimized, and do not raise suspicions to the legitimacy of the request.
  • The phrases “code to admin expenses” or “urgent wire transfer” were reported by victims in some of the fraudulent e-mail requests.
  • The amount of the fraudulent wire transfer request is business-specific; therefore, dollar amounts requested are similar to normal business transaction amounts so as to not raise doubt.
  • Fraudulent e-mails received have coincided with business travel dates for executives whose e-mails were spoofed.
  • Victims report that IP addresses frequently trace back to free domain registrars. 


  1. Do not give out any information  or sensitive information without double checking who is asking.
  2. Provide training to your employees (increase awareness)
  3. Avoid web-based email accounts, use a company domain name
  4. Don’t over post in social media and company websites regarding job roles or office details
  5. Be suspicious of requests for secrecy or to take action quickly
  6. Implement verification process such as authentication methods and protocols: passwords, public key cryptography, digital signatures, Secure Sockets Layer – SSL, many more remote access authentic protocols available
  7. Delete spam and report immediately
  8. Delete unsolicited email
  9. Do not use reply, instead use forward to respond and type the email address that you know
  10. Implement an intrusion detection system to flag emails with extensions similar to your company email
  11. Register all company domains slightly different from the actual company domain
  12. Verify any changes to the company such as vendor payment address
  13. Confirm requests for transfers of funds
  14. File a complaint online at for internet crimes
  15. Go to the Cybersecurity Unit for Best Practices and protect your organization


For the complete Alert data (Alert Number I – 061416-PSA)   Public Service Announcement


Cyber Security, Data Breach, HIPAA / HITECH Enforcement, OCR HIPAA Audits, Risk Analysis/Risk Management, Settlements

Largest Settlement Agreement to Date Assessed by the OCR

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has assessed the largest settlement amount to date against Advocate Health Care Network . The OCR fined Advocate $ 5.55 Million for multiple potential violations of the HIPAA Security Rule.

The investigations that eventually led to the fine were initiated in 2013 after three successive self-reported data breaches by Advocate. Two of the three were related to a Business Associate of Advocate. OCR stated, “This significant settlement, the largest to-date against a single entity, is a result of the extent and duration of the alleged noncompliance (dating back to the inception of the Security Rule in some instances), the involvement of the State Attorney General in a corresponding investigation, and the large number of individuals whose information was affected by Advocate, one of the largest health systems in the country.”

The press release and a link to the settlement agreement can be found here. Note that the link to the source document, the settlement agreement itself, stopped functioning a few hours after the press release went out. Please see: 

This settlement reinforces the importance of including all of an organization’s PHI in its risk analysis process, and a review and inclusion of all Business Associates and Business Associate Agreements.

Cyber Security, Data Breach, HIPAA / HITECH Enforcement, OCR HIPAA Audits, Settlements

Improper Disclosure of Research Participants’ PHI Results in $3.9 million HIPAA Settlement

Readers, please make sure you read all the way to the end because this article points out a significant part of the Corrective Action Plan in this settlement, and the previous one.

March 17, 2016

From the HHS Press Office

Improper Disclosure of Research Participants’ Protected Health Information Results in $3.9 million HIPAA Settlement

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) $3.9 million to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules and will undertake a substantial corrective action plan to bring its operations into compliance. This case demonstrates OCR’s commitment to promoting the privacy and security protections so critical to build and maintain trust in health research.  Feinstein is a biomedical research institute that is organized as a New York not-for-profit corporation and is sponsored by Northwell Health, Inc., formerly known as North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, a large health system headquartered in Manhasset, New York that is comprised of twenty one hospitals and over 450 patient facilities and physician practices.

OCR’s investigation began after Feinstein filed a breach report indicating that on September 2, 2012, a laptop computer containing the electronic protected health information (ePHI) of approximately 13,000 patients and research participants was stolen from an employee’s car.  The ePHI stored in the laptop included the names of research participants, dates of birth, addresses, social security numbers, diagnoses, laboratory results, medications, and medical information relating to potential participation in a research study.

OCR’s investigation discovered that Feinstein’s security management process was limited in scope, incomplete, and insufficient to address potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI held by the entity.  Further, Feinstein lacked policies and procedures for authorizing access to ePHI by its workforce members, failed to implement safeguards to restrict access to unauthorized users, and lacked policies and procedures to govern the receipt and removal of laptops that contained ePHI into and out of its facilities.  For electronic equipment procured outside of Feinstein’s standard acquisition process, Feinstein failed to implement proper mechanisms for safeguarding ePHI as required by the Security Rule.

“Research institutions subject to HIPAA must be held to the same compliance standards as all other HIPAA-covered entities,” said OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels.  “For individuals to trust in the research process and for patients to trust in those institutions, they must have some assurance that their information is kept private and secure.”

The resolution agreement may be found on the OCR website at

A notable and consistent theme present in the Corrective Action Plan (Appendix A) of both of the recent settlement agreements is the following section, “As a part of this process, [ENTITY] shall develop a complete inventory of all electronic equipment, data systems, and applications that contain or store [ENTITY] ePHI, including personally owned devices, if any, which will then be incorporated in its risk analysis.”  This is of significant note for two reasons:

  1. As consultants in the performance of risk analysis activities, we have seen that accurate inventory of data, systems, and applications is a Unicorn. It is both a beautiful thing, and non-existent.
  2. The requirement of the CAP includes personally owned devices which will then be incorporated into its risk analysis. Wow! This is a huge scope change for a risk analysis, and requires Physicians, APNs, Therapists, Executives, and others to allow their devices’ security to be assessed.

Hopefully the OCR will offer some clarification on this point either in presentations or through other methods as this small phrase in one sentence has huge implications!

Sponsored by: RISC Management and Consulting, LLC

Appendix A

Corrective Action Plan Between The Department Of Health And Human Services And The Feinstein Institute For Medical Research may be found on the OCR website at

Cyber Security, Education, News Events, Trends & Technology, Upcoming Events

MFTC 2015 HIMSS Michigan Chapter Event

Welcome to the 9th Annual Midwest Fall Technology Conference – MFTC

After a successful 2014 conference at Chicago filled with learning, fun, and networking, we are happy to announce the Detroit Michigan HIMSS Chapter 2015 Event. Last year’s conference had close to 700 hundred attendees who participated in unique opportunities, enjoy authentic Chicago nightlife at the House of Blues and premier events.

2015 Midwest Fall Technology Conference
2015 Midwest Fall Technology Conference

To be held in:

Detroit, Michigan at the Detroit Marriot at the Renaissance Center

October 25th through the 27th

This Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) event will feature nationally recognized and regional speakers to address some of the most relevant and compelling topics of our time: innovation and leadership, analytics, health information exchanges, clinical engagement / patient engagement / mobile health and industry trends.

In addition to healthcare industry leaders, students and practioners will benefit from an amazing lineup of speakers, including local and national leaders in health information technology.  You will have an opportunity to discuss issues with colleagues from across the Midwest, to network, enjoy authentic Michigan landmarks, museums, nature, parks, nightlife and for your students to learn from industry veterans:

The Education tracks for the 2015 MFTC include:

Track A:  Strategy and Leadership

Track B:  Emerging Technology & Cybersecurity

Track C:  Public Policy (State and Federal)

Track D:  Innovation and Emerging Trends

Track E:  Clinical Informatics, Business Analytics & Research

For more Information please visit:

For registration please visit:

Our organization, RISC Management and Consulting, LLC is involved from a purely volunteer standpoint to assist in reaching Clinicians, Medical, Nursing professionals, educators, and students regarding this unique, local, and exceptional opportunity to learn and share.

Contact us to see how easy DLP can beRISC Data Loss Prevention Solution

800.648.4358 or