Tag Archives: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

FISMA Web Hosting Compliance – 8 Guidelines … Plus Some Jokes

 

English: Certified HIPAA Privacy Security Expert

FISMA, or the Federal Information Security Management Act, became law in 2002 as a piece of the E-Government Act. The basic idea behind the act is to ensure the security of information handled by a federal agency. Supposedly one or another of the branches of the federal government is in possession of important and sensitive information that another nation or organization might want to see – who knew?

We are FISMA-compliant. That essentially means that we can work with government agencies and other organizations that handle government information. A couple of similar forms of compliance that we have in place are HIPAA, allowing us to work with healthcare companies, and PCI, allowing us to work with any company or organization accepting payments by credit card online.

More importantly than what companies we can take on as clients, though, is what our various compliances and certifications say about our company. We are dedicated to passing every test out there, not just to establish broad international credibility, but also because it allows us to test our standards and security protocols. Undergoing the numerous rigorous crosschecks of these standards makes our infrastructure stronger – or at least gauges the strength and gives us a better sense of any potential problems which need addressed.

Below, we will look at what FISMA is all about. Also, as with my previous two articles on PCI and HIPAA, let’s take a look at a few of the newer standardization acronyms that are becoming more popular (so we can all stay ahead of the curve). Here is the first of those:

Up & Coming Standards Acronyms: CHCS Hootenanny Standards

The Country Hootenanny Standardization Consortium (CHSC), which determines standards for square dancing and instruments such as the fiddle and banjo and jug, releases a set of standards each year to ensure that hootenannies never go out of style. Here are the new 2013 additions to the standards manual:

  • No more R. Kelly covers
  • No huffing gasoline out of the jug while playing it
  • No dirty square dancing
  • Hands and feet must be showing at all times, whereas elbows and knees are still free to go wherever they please.

FISMA Security Protocol – 8 Guidelines

The following are the basic rules established by FISMA. As you will see, these are very simple and broad guidelines but will give you a general a sense of what’s involved with compliance:

  1. Reviews/Checks – On a regular basis, the agency or organization that is compliant with FISMA will assess risk, specifically the types of damage and amounts of damage that would be caused by a breach in security
  2. Adaptable Policy – Policy should be in place that is adaptive to the results of reviews. The policy should determine budget-conscious ways (for government bodies) to bring any security risks within allowable parameters. Security of information should be sustained throughout the entire time that an information database, system, or network is active.
  3. Specific plans should be in place related to each electronic system or any systemic components in use at a particular organization. Particular rules and guidelines pertaining to networks, facilities, and information systems should be delineated.
  4. Training should occur so that the workforce and anyone working within the system on a contractual basis is completely aware of FISMA and the risks associated with breaches to the data contained within the system
  5. Once new sets of policies and controls are implemented, a timetable for further reviews should be set. The regularity of reviews should depend on the extent of risk that is shown by the first review (and similarly moving forward); at minimum, reviews should be conducted once per year.
  6. The process to plan, change, assess, and record any efforts to adapt the systems should itself be on record
  7. A system should be in place to determine when a security problem is occurring, to notify appropriate personnel, and to combat it effectively
  8. Plans should be in place to allow information systems that protect and secure data to run continuously, without interruption.

Up & Coming Standards Acronyms: Eating & Drinking Spillage Standard

Another acronym that has become much more prevalent in the last six months comes from the people of the consumption industry. The Eating & Drinking Spillage Standard (E&DSS) provides guidelines that make it less likely that people will spill anything when they are enjoying a meal, snack, or beverage. Basic parameters of the standard allow all who are compliant to waste less of their drinks and treats, as follows:

  • No consumption on the Tilt-a-Whirl
  • Never share food or beverages – keep them close to your body at all times
  • Adhere to the five-second rule (it’s not spillage, technically, until the sixth second)
  • Throw away anything crumbly – such as crackers and some cheeses. Cheese-and-cracker platter zealots are just asking for trouble.

Conclusion

That should give you a basic sense of the guidelines created by FISMA. FISMA is, in a nutshell, an effort to develop across-the-board guidelines for the entire federal government, agencies using federal information, and/or those that have federal clients. As established above, FISMA is just one of the various certifications we have in place at Superb Internet. Here are our hosting packages as well. If you have any additional game-changing acronyms that are just now becoming popular, please let us know in the comments.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

HIPAA Web Hosting Compliance: Why it Matters … Plus Some Jokes

 

Amsterdam servercluster in its own rack
Servercluster in its own rack

Hosting and health are sometimes interrelated. Our bodies can become hosts for parasites, and that is no fun (well… the tapeworm probably enjoys it). In other cases, the hosting industry and health industry cross paths in the need to reach the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). We are HIPAA compliant at Superb Internet, so this article will take a look at why that is important for working with health organizations.

HIPAA compliance is similar in some ways to PCI compliance: both express a company’s commitment to the parameters of a third-party body, and both of them have to do with security and privacy. PCI was established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI  SSC) – a group formed by the major credit card companies – to develop comprehensive protocol for how companies should process payments and store sensitive personal information. HIPAA, unlike PCI, is not voluntary. HIPAA rules were signed into law at the federal level to give better consumer protections to American citizens. The downside (well, and upside) of HIPAA is the stringency of rules that health-care firms now have to follow.

Below is a little information on why HIPAA compliance is important for a web hosting company. As with my last article – focused on PCI – I will also get into standards acronyms that are growing in popularity in 2013. I’ll tackle the first one here:

Up & Coming Standards Acronyms: MBAM Art Standard

The Made By a Madman (MBAM) standard requires that any piece of artwork be validated to determine that it was in fact created by a mentally unstable person. Once it is determined that it was, everyone can start to enjoy it appropriately. “We’ve had just about enough of these happy, content, non-Salvador Dali, non-Vincent van Gogh types,” says Christian Doyle of the Transatlantic Alliance for Incoherent Creativity (TAIC). “We needed a way to know that the art we were looking at was made by someone either currently in or headed toward long-term electroshock therapy.”

Basics of HIPAA & Why it Matters for Web Hosts

The reason that HIPAA is so important for the hosting industry is because a large part of the reason the act was passed was to account for developments of the electronic age related to health privacy. Part of what it stipulates is that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must have in place a set of standards, applicable across the country, for how healthcare is electronically administered – what the baseline security requirements are, what codes are used for certain health disorders, etc. This is essentially a streamlining and simplification of how healthcare records are organized.

Additionally, HIPAA contains specific language that relates to individual privacy. This language is essentially a recognition that the electronic age makes privacy of health records more challenging. Regulations, then, were deemed necessary to ensure that all physicians and hospitals were adequately protecting patient information.

Our own compliance can be of use to healthcare organizations that need to know the required governmental safeguards are in place. However, you still need to ensure the compliance of your company internally if you want to know you are completely legal.

Up & Coming Standards Acronyms: Skeleton Key Standard

This is an incredibly radical standard being developed by the people at the Single Key Worldwide Society (SKWS). The Skeleton Key Standard (SKS) requires all locks of a business to fit a key that is held by members of the society. “We are not just skeleton key enthusiasts,” says Dan Perry, president of SKWS. “We also don’t believe in private property.”

HIPAA: Privacy & Security of PHI

First let’s look at how HIPAA protects privacy and security. All the codes of HIPAA are related in some way to protected health information (PHI) – how it is defined, how it must be maintained, and rules for transmission. Basic regulations include the following:

  1. Internal protections for PHI;
  2. Only the minimum amount of PHI necessary to conduct business should change hands;
  3. Records must be kept of any transfer of PHI;
  4. Patients must have access to make changes to PHI;
  5. Contracts with affiliated companies that ensure protection of PHI;
  6. “Privacy officer” role given to the person in charge of PHI at a company;
  7. Penalize those who do not properly protect PHI;
  8. Give paperwork with acceptable PHI guidelines to all relevant parties.

Up & Coming Standards Acronyms: Packing Peanut Standard

The shipping industry has come together and created standards of quality for packing peanuts. The Packing Peanut Standard (PPS) ensures the following:

  • Peanuts must be pink
  • Peanuts must not be peanuts
  • Firmness of peanuts must be carefully balanced with their softness – with correct balance determined by a designated “Balance Officer.”

Conclusion

That is the gist on HIPAA. Many different types of health organizations (and some others, too) must comply with its standards. As with PCI and our other certifications, we are not just protecting our clients and their clients. We are also showcasing our commitment to credibility across a wide range of industries. Our hosting packages are here. If you have any further up-and-coming acronyms that you would like to share, please provide them below.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood