HIPAA Penetration Testing
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a piece of legislation that was passed in 1996 in the United States. It was enacted to protect the privacy of patients’ medical information and to provide individuals with a secure way to store and access their health data. As technology has advanced, the need to protect this data has become increasingly important.
With these technological advances, patients’ protected health information (PHI) moved into electronic formats. Though there have been many benefits to doing so, electronic PHI (ePHI) has also become a target for security threats faced by the world at large. Critical patient care such as surgeries has been delayed numerous times when a ransomware attack encrypted important patient data.
This is where HIPAA and HIPAA penetration test requirements come in. Under the HIPAA Security Rule, all entities that are covered by HIPAA must use security safeguards to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI including any protected health information that is stored, transmitted, created, or received in an electronic format. One of the security safeguards that must be put in place is an “administrative safeguard.” This safeguard is divided into a series of standards, one of which is the evaluation standard. Covered entities must stay informed on whether their security plans and procedures protect ePHI. To do this, under the evaluation standard, covered entities must perform regular monitoring and evaluation. One way to evaluate is through a HIPAA penetration testing.
What is a penetration test?
A penetration test is a type of security assessment that involves actively attempting to exploit system vulnerabilities to gain access to a system or network. It is used to identify and evaluate the security strengths and weaknesses of a system or network and to assess the overall security posture of the system or network. The goal of a penetration test is to identify any potential security vulnerabilities and to provide recommendations on how to remediate or mitigate any identified risks.
A penetration test is typically conducted by a security expert or a team of security experts and is also referred to as a “pentest” or “ethical hacking.” The penetration test team is typically composed of individuals with expertise in areas such as computer forensics, systems and network architecture, software engineering, and security practices.
The penetration test team typically begins by gathering information about the system or network to be tested. This may include gathering information about the hardware and software components of the system, the operating system and version, any applications running on the system, network infrastructure and protocols, and any existing security controls. This information can be gathered using a variety of methods, including system and network scans, interviews with personnel, and review of existing documents and system configurations.
Once the penetration test team has gathered the necessary information about the system or network, they will then begin the actual penetration testing process. This process usually involves attempting to gain access to the system or network by exploiting any existing vulnerabilities. This can be done through a variety of methods, including remote access attempts, social engineering, physical security breaches, and application-level attacks.
The penetration test team will then attempt to gain access to the system or network by exploiting any discovered vulnerabilities. Once access has been gained, the penetration tester will then attempt to gain additional access privileges, such as administrator access. Access privileges can be gained by exploiting additional vulnerabilities or by exploiting existing privileges. The penetration tester may also attempt to access sensitive data, such as customer information or financial records.
Once the penetration test is complete, the penetration tester will then create a detailed report outlining any identified vulnerabilities and any recommendations for remediation or mitigation. The report should also include any steps taken to test the system or network, and any evidence collected during the test. The report should be used to help inform security policy decisions and to ensure that any identified weaknesses are addressed.
Overall, a penetration test is a valuable tool for assessing the security posture of any system or network. By actively attempting to exploit system vulnerabilities, the penetration test team can identify potential weaknesses and provide recommendations on how to address them. The purpose of a penetration test is to identify and mitigate any potential security risks and to help ensure the security of the system or network.
What is HIPAA Penetration Testing?
A HIPAA penetration test is a type of penetration test conducted on a system, network, or application with the specific aim of:
- Identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited to access, modify, or delete protected health information (PHI).
- Identifying whether a HIPAA-covered entity’s security plans and procedures sufficiently protect ePHI.
As with all penetration tests, the test should be performed by a qualified security professional and involves a simulated attack on the system or network in order to identify security weaknesses. The findings of the penetration test are used to create actionable steps to improve the security of the system or network.
How can BB-SEC help with HIPAA penetration testing?
BB-SEC offers comprehensive penetration testing solutions including HIPAA-focused penetration testing. Scopes covered by BB-SEC include:
- Internal and external network penetration testing
- Web application penetration testing
- Mobile penetration testing
- IoT and embedded device penetration testing
Contact us to see how we can help your business ensure the ePHI data you handle is protected from hackers.
Is Penetration Testing Required Under HIPAA?
Although HIPAA regulations do not explicitly mandate a penetration test, they do require covered entities to complete a security risk analysis. As part of the mandatory HIPAA Security Rule risk analysis, covered entities must assess the risks and vulnerabilities present in their environment and deploy security measures to counter them. Healthcare organizations should have a comprehensive set of controls, including access, audit, integrity, authentication, and transmission security controls.
As stated earlier, under the administrative safeguard evaluation standard, covered entities must put into place continual monitoring and technical evaluation procedures. HIPAA penetration testing is one such procedure – a way of testing the efficiency of security controls.