Healthcare Information Security

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HITRUST sustains, responds to web server hacking incident

By Patrick Ouellette

- In one of the more interesting breach stories of late, the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) acknowledged that it experienced an external hack on Monday, May 27. initially reported that “TeamBerserk” (using the Twitter handle @TeamBerserk) had leaked some of HISTRUST’s server data, penetration test data, six user accounts and their passwords. Additionally, the group had access to a total of 111 records that include full names, addresses, locations, contact telephone numbers and IP addresses. While none of this was considered health data or information that would compromise identities such as Social Security numbers, this had to be a surreal experience for an organization that has focused on data security best practices for healthcare organizations.

It can be difficult to tell what’s real when it comes to hacking news on Twitter, but was able to obtain a statement from HITRUST on the hack in which it admitted that “TeamBerserk” had successfully applied a SQL injection to its web server.

Here is the complete statement:

HITRUST had a non-critical, standalone public web server compromised by an SQL injection that resulted in some test data being leaked. The media article accurately claims that 111 records, including some real names, companies, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, as well as six encrypted passwords, were taken and compromised.

The database in question was a test database that was populated with information from rosters previously made public from planning meetings held during 2008, in addition to some factitious data created by our developers.

The user names and passwords mentioned were available only in the test database. The server did not contain any personal health or other sensitive information.

We sincerely regret any inconvenience this has created and take data security very seriously. It is our mission to protect information and do so in a manner that is appropriate and practical given the risks. We had not deemed this particular web server and test data to require higher assurances.

We have updated our policies both to non-critical, non-sensitive web servers and our test environments and will secure our test environments and public general information websites to a higher assurance level. The server in question has been addressed and test information deleted. None of our other servers or data centers were involved in this event.

HITRUST does maintain its operations in compliance with the CSF and utilizes CSF Certified environments.


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