Do Hospitals Need to Promote Privacy By Limiting The Use of Social Media?

Social media has taken the world by storm, but there are many instances when it has been used inappropriately to abuse privacy. Hospitals, especially, are in danger of this – the privacy levels required in a hospital are high and social media breaks down all barriers of privacy. Social websites like Facebook and Twitter, video websites like YouTube and even blogs have made it easy to pass on information, and since there is no one policing the information, boundaries are crossed easily. The HIPAA Security Rule can be easily broken. Social media security has become very important. Information Security policies are required for HIPAA risk requirements.

Imagine a situation where someone is ill and has to stay in the hospital for a few days. Or where someone is diagnosed with something that people treat as particularly embarrassing, or that holds the threat of death. All it takes is for one person to post a message or a picture taken in the hospital of the patient, and in minutes, the whole world will be able to access the information. If malicious things are said about this patient and they get to hear about it, it might harm their health further. A HIPAA security assessment would be required after such a data breach.

Hospital employees in particular need to be extra careful, because they can easily break the HIPAA Security Rules and get into legal trouble. Blogs where hospital employees meet are a great idea for them to discuss their work, but these same blogs can easily cross boundaries and find themselves discussing a particular patient. The hospital employee can be fired and sued. The hospital itself is in particular danger of being sued.

Social media has changed the way we communicate but we need to know when it’s appropriate and when it is not. In hospitals, in can be especially damaging if used in the wrong way. To stay out of trouble, hospitals need to have a clear policy on social media and how their employees use it and have consistent HIPAA risk assessments.

Employers are constantly hearing of social media this and social media that. When your employees go on break or eat lunch, they are usually on their cell phones talking. But, now there are also applications on phones like Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and others where an employee can actually send photo uploads while being mobile and even post to Facebook automatically. Are employees using social media securely? Does your company have anything in place for protecting confidentiality through social media usage? Do you have a Social Media Security Policy? Employees sign agreements when joining the company but did the business cover disclosing things like pictures or private conversations and even meeting information via Google Buzz or Facebook? What about brand new products being developed that are trade secrets? If your employees are online working to do their job and Facebook, MySpace, or gaming sites like Pogo are not blocked, how do you know they are doing their work 100% of the time? Just because their production numbers look great, doesn’t mean they are not slacking. Have you done a Social Media Security Assessment? It is becoming an epidemic in the work force with employees breaking rules and ultimately being fired every day. If security monitoring technologies are in place you could possibly sue the former employee but your trade secrets are gone and so might be your reputation. If an employee is bad-mouthing your company and tells everyone to not buy or shop with you, there goes your business immediately. You can make a legal policy for employees to sign when they start their job that they will not talk, disclose, or say anything bad about the company on social media sites. If businesses do not step up soon and do something it can be a total free for all! Here are a few interesting facts to consider. One out of every ten employees admitted overriding their job’s security system so they could access restricted sites. In 2009, 24% of eight hundred employers surveyed said they had to discipline an employee for using social media sites. Another study showed 8% of employees were terminated for accessing Facebook out of two hundred businesses polled. Twenty eight thousand people were polled in the United Kingdom at the beginning of 2010 and a whopping 87% said they can do what they want; it is their right to do so. It is now believed that social networking will replace email by 2014 as the main way to communicate for 20% of all business owners or users. Is your company prepared for Secure Social Media? Gary Bahadur CEO KRAA Security, baha@kraasecurity.com http://www.kraasecurity.com http://blog.kraasecurity.com http://twitter.com/kraasecurity *Managed Security Services *Vulnerability Management *Compliance & Police Development *PGP Security *Free Website Security Test
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Is there such a thing as Social Media Warfare? We have had cyber warfare going on for years now. So it should be an obvious “YES” that Social Media warfare exists. But is that true?  To get to a full blown war opposing sides go through an escalation process. Where are we in this process? From a pure cyber warfare perspective, we are in world war three, many opposing sides, lots of new and improved weapons, completely escalating attacks and no end in sight. Companies are used to conducting vulnerability management and risk assessment. This new war will require new tactics and defense strategies. I think we have seen the first skirmishes of the war. It started with all the spammers morphing their tools into Facebook and Twitter hacking. Then moving into phishing. Then into negative attacks on your reputation by disgruntled customers and competitors. So what is the progression of this coming war? Is there a similarity to how “normal” cyber  warfare started? But why is this war inevitable? The attack vectors in the Social Media War are probably categorized into personal use and corporate use. If these are the assets that needs to be protected, we can then figure out how the assets will be attacked, how will the enemies do reconnaissance, what alliances will be formed and what should be the defense strategies and weapons for defense. The progression of of this war will follow different patterns and there is probably no end in sight.
Action Personal Corporate
Skirmish Home users receiving spam and phishing attacks and scams Corporate users seeing more phishing attacks, attackers going through Linkedin profiles
Protest Actions Users might complain to attorney generals, or write nasty messages about Microsoft Adobe or Apple security weaknesses The IT department is inundated with help desk calls. Companies have the ability to complain to ISPs or event countries about originating attacks.
Negotiations There really isn’t anyone to negotiate with. Writing on your Facebook wall will not do a darn thing. Companies definitely do not want to negotiate. But will see blackmail more and more.
Failed Negotiations The home user is bascially screwed anyway. Succumbing to blackmail will only lead down a bad path.
Declaration of War This is a defacto state with the home user. They are at war whether they know it or not. Companies have to take a proactive approach to security versus reactive. Anticipate the next types of attacks and have a budget to address it.
Launch Attacks and Defend More defend, get your anti-spyware, antivirus, personal firewalls and encryption up to speed. But after that, understand how attackers use Social Media. Spend massive amounts of money on understanding how so fight in the Social media landscape, security hardware and software are not enough.
Allies Join the War The home user can only rely on the Social media companies for basic security. Their will be more collaboration between companies and governments. Perhaps together they have a fighting chance. Regulations are also going to force changes.
Years of Conflict – Never Ending Whats the next thing after Facebook and Twitter? Whatever it is will have its own security challenges. But by that time the home user will probably have given out every bit of personal information on all the Social Media venues anyway. A company can only rely on the right process to secure their social media usage. As technologies change and new sites go live, a good process and social media security policy is all you can rely on.
Winner The ISP, they get to sell bandwidth. The VCs who fund companies like Facebook and Twitter.
I will get into more tactics in the coming war in future posts. Gary Bahadur CEO KRAA Security,  baha@kraasecurity.com http://www.kraasecurity.com http://blog.kraasecurity.com http://twitter.com/kraasecurity *Managed Security Services *Vulnerability Management *Compliance & Policy Development *PGP Security *FREE Website Security Test
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Social Media Buzz
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Social Media Policy

Social Media has become part of the user community several years ago. Today we have social media in the corporate environment. The main problem we have is how social media has evolved. It has been a bottom up approach. By bottom up I mean that the consumer has determined how to use a technology and the corporation is playing catch up. But the social norms that are appropriate for a consumer “product” are not appropriate in a corporate environment.    
 
Social media usage is being retrofitted into the corporate environment. But the consumer is already used to using social media in an insecure, “information must be free” manner. Employees who have been used to giving up all their information in places such as Facebook and Twitter must now be retrained to use social media in a whole different manner to meet corporate standards. (Assuming we have a corporate standard for social media security)  
But what is a corporate standard for using social media in an appropriate fashion that does not put the company at risk? Corporations have not made a concerted effort to define that secure social media strategy, or even a strategy for training their employees in the “correct” use of social media.
 

Social Media Policy Infrastructure

What is a good starting point for implementing a social media policy? Here is a basic guideline.   
1) Define a policy – You cannot assume employees will do the right thing without guidance. You already have things like Expense Policies, Acceptable Use Policies, Internet Use Policies. Write a basic guideline. What’s in that guideline will vary from company to company.  
 2) Information Classification – You have to explicitly define what information can be shared and what information should not be Tweeted, FaceBooked, BlibbedBlabbaded (I made that up)about. If your employees do not know how valuable information is that you cannot blame them for inadvertently being sucked into the blogosphere. (I am not sure blogosphere is yet a word, but who cares)3) Keep It professional – If you allow your employees to Socialize (that a word with any meaning here?) information about your company, you have to give them standards to follow. Things like cursing, grammar mistakes, casual conversation style discussions might not be the image you want to portray when discussing anything related to your company. 4) Tracking and Monitoring – If you are going to have a policy for anything, you have to have a mechanism for tracking compliance, reporting on activity and have consequences for breaking that policy. How much tweets that are over the line makes you bring an employee before HR? What is a firing Facebook picture offense? This is a very abbreviated start. In later posts I will define more aspects of a social media policy. But let’s get the conversation started about the necessity for this as a standard policy in every organization, both large and small.  
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What is Data Lifecycle Management?

The Data Lifecycle goes through 5 steps: creation, usage, transport, storage and destruction. Most companies have parts of this lifecycle under control, but that means there are lots of areas for gaps in the control measures that could let a threat affect the data. The multiple part blog, (I am not sure how many parts it will take), will walk through the steps of the data lifecycle and what a company can do to implement a good process for all the data management challenges. Data lifecycle management (DLM) is a policy and procedure based approach to manage information movement. Data has to be classified and evaluated to properly protect it with the right resources. Ownership is a key factor in managing and maintaining data throughout the lifecycle The 5 Steps
  1. Creation – How does data creation get managed?
  2. Usage – What limitations are on data usage?
  3. Storage – What controls are in place for storage?
  4. Transportation – How is data transmitted between company, customers and business partners?
  5. Destruction – What is the validation and verification process over data destruction?
The Data Management Problem
  • Weak processes in place to track creation usage, transportation, storage and destruction
  • Weak ability to monitor and manage a customer record throughout the lifecycle
  • Inconsistent processes across each phase of data movement
  • Lack of enforcement capabilities
What should be the goal of data lifecycle management?
  • Provide practical steps to manage each step of the customer record management process
  • Provide cost effective solution for risk mitigation
  • Provide framework for data management
  • Reduce risk of data loss
Challenges to Customer Data Records Management
  • Rarely does a company have a centralized process to track controls over data, over management processes around data, over logging and monitoring, and removal
  • Organizations rely on technology to secure data not processes that drive technology purchases
  • The 5 steps of data management are not followed by all functional groups in a company
  • No clear ownership and classification of customer data elements
Did you know…
  • 1 in 400 emails contains confidential information
  • 1 in 50 network files contains confidential data
  • 4 out of 5 companies have lost confidential data when a laptop was lost
  • 1 in 2 USB drives contains confidential information
  • Companies that incur a data breach experience a significant increase in customer turnover—as much as 11%
  • Over 35 states have enacted security breach notification laws
  • Can openers were invented 48 years after cans
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