Key Lesson All Business Leaders Can Learn From the Anthem Data Breach Case

The 2015 Anthem data breach affected 79 million people and was the largest health-care data breach in U.S. history. The affected consumers sued Anthem in a case that settled for a record $115 million. Now the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights has reached a settlement with Anthem for a record $16 million — an amount that is almost three times the next-largest OCR data breach settlement of $5.55 million.

While these numbers are interesting, what is the takeaway for business leaders?

It all started with an employee opening and responding to a phishing email:

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Anthem discovered cyber-attackers had infiltrated their system through spear phishing emails sent to an Anthem subsidiary after at least one employee responded to the malicious email and opened the door to further attacks. (HHS Press Release)

While this may be shocking, it is neither new nor unexpected. Most cyber incidents are a result of failures of basic cyber hygiene, not super sophisticated James Bond-like attacks. Read more about this in 1 Step to Improve Your Company’s Cybersecurity Today.

FMCNA to Pay $3.5 Million for Non-Compliance with HIPAA’s Risk Analysis and Risk Management Rules

Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) has agreed to pay $3.5 million to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and to adopt a comprehensive corrective action plan, in order to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules. FMCNA is a provider of products and services for people with chronic kidney failure with over 60,000 employees that serves over 170,000 patients. FMCNA’s network is comprised of dialysis facilities, outpatient cardiac and vascular labs, and urgent care centers, as well as hospitalist and post-acute providers.

Read the full article on HHS’ website and pay careful attention to the 6 specific issues the OCR’s investigation identified as a basis for the fine:

  1. Failed to conduct an adequate risk analysis.
  2. Provided unauthorized access for a purpose not permitted by the Privacy Rule.
  3. Failed to implement policies and procedures to address security incidents.
  4. Failed to implement policies and procedures for devices containing ePHI inside and outside of the facility.
  5. Failed to implement policies and procedures to safeguard their facilities and equipment therein from unauthorized access, tampering, and theft.
  6. Failed to encrypt ePHI in appropriate circumstances.

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Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

Allscripts EHR Ransomware Attack is Huge–How Will it Impact Healthcare Practices?

OCR LogoSee recommendations below

On January 19, 2018, cybercriminals were successful in a ransomware attack on Allscripts, an electronic healthcare record (EHR) provider for healthcare providers across the United States. The attack encrypted some of Allscripts systems and prevented those healthcare providers who use those systems for their EHRs from being able to access their patient records. Not only is there the obvious impact this has had on those healthcare providers’ ability to treat their patients, but also, under HIPAA, the Office of Civil Rights presumes that all cyber-related security incidents where protected health information was accessed, acquired, used, or disclosed are reportable breaches unless certain criteria are satisfied. (See checklist in this post and this post for further explanation).

TMLT LogoThe Texas Medical Liability Trust (TMLT)’s blog post, Allscripts EHRS Falls Victim to Ransomware Attacks, goes into much greater detail in describing the facts of this event and what has taken place since the initial attack. The blog also provides an excellent analysis of the Business Associates considerations in a situation such as this and the post features several important recommendations for what practices need to do now from my friend and excellent cybersecurity and data privacy attorney Adrian Senyszyn (LinkedIn) and myself. So, what are you waiting for, go read the TMLT post … and hope and pray that you planned ahead and have cyber insurance!

See Also:

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Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

OCR Issues Cyberattack Response Checklist and Infographic

The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has just issued a checklist and infographic to aid healthcare organizations and their vendors in quickly responding to cyberattacks in compliance with HIPAA requirements.