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Comply with HIPAA Through Acronis SCS Solutions

Introduction

Today’s cloud technologies offer a wide range of solutions that medical organizations can use to easily and securely process protected health information (PHI). Knowing that these tools meet the strict regulatory requirements of the healthcare industry is not as easy, though. When it comes to protecting the security and privacy of ePHI, the two primary regulations are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH). Together, they establish a fundamental set of requirements that can be summed up in three main rules:

  • Privacy Rule
  • Security Rule
  • Breach Notification Rule

While compliance is required, there is no official, legally recognized certification process or accreditation for HIPAA. As a result, healthcare providers must not only evaluate a possible IT solution based on the benefits it offers, but also whether it meets regulatory requirements. They also need to get that analysis right since HIPAA compliance is a shared responsibility of their organization and the cloud vendor they choose. In response, Acronis SCS established and maintains a HIPAA- HITECH security and compliance program for services offered as part of Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud. Designed to ease customer compliance concerns, the program ensures our solutions uphold the strict security and privacy standards demanded by HIPAA-HITECH. This document has been prepared to help security, compliance, and IT officials understand the measures Acronis SCS takes in order to comply with these regulations.

HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA Security Rule establishes national standards to protect an individual’s electronic personal health information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a covered entity (expanded to include Business Associates by HITECH). The HIPAA Security Rule establishes national standards to protect an individual’s electronic personal health information (ePHI). This means information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a Covered Entity (or Business Associate, per HITECH) requires appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of ePHI. All requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule are divided into three parts:

  • Administrative Safeguards
  • Physical Safeguards
  • Technical Safeguards

 

ADMINISTRATIVE SAFEGUARDS

Administrative Safeguards are in place to protect electronic health information and manage the conduct of employees accordingly. Safeguards include administrative actions, policies, and procedures to manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of security measures. With respect to the Administrative Safeguards, Acronis SCS developed and maintains an information security management system based on the broadly accepted national security standard NIST 800-53. These standards are published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Acronis SCS’s system manages policies and procedures that define and regulate required aspects of HIPAA as follows:

Security Management Processes

Acronis SCS maintains the information security management system so that the information security controls and safeguards are implemented based on a risk analysis that examines relevant threats, while ensuring customer data is valued as the most critical asset. Acronis SCS employees are also held to these standards. Should violations be found among any involved parties, sanctions are issued per local law.

Acronis SCS’s Network Operations Center (NOC) constantly monitors Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud services to detect issues, identify the root cause, and contact the appropriate internal incident response team to triage and resolve the technology incident per the established procedures.

Workforce Security and Information Access Management

All Acronis SCS personnel are US citizens and are obligated to comply with Acronis SCS confidentiality, business ethics, and code of conduct policies. Acronis SCS pays special attention to personnel selection by conducting appropriate background checks on candidates for employment, in accordance with applicable local laws, statutory regulations, and ethics. Every Acronis SCS employee is required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

Authorization and termination of an Acronis SCS employee’s access to any information resources are carried out in accordance with internal procedures. These standards consider a person’s official duties and applies the principles of “Need to Know” and “Least Privileges.”

Security Awareness and Training

All Acronis SCS employees receive awareness education and training regarding information security, privacy protection, and data processing, as is appropriate relative to their job functions and assigned roles.

Security Incident Procedures

Acronis SCS Network Operations Center (NOC) leads incident identification and response, identifies the root cause of any problem, and contacts the appropriate internal incident response team.

Acronis SCS has developed several different escalation paths, based on the type of incident and its severity. Global or high-severity level incidents are escalated directly to Acronis SCS executive staff. Acronis SCS incident management culture is based on global best practices.

There are seven stages for handling every incident:

  • Preparation. Acronis SCS educates users and IT staff after every incident and new implementation, and trains them to respond to incidents quickly and accurately.
  • Identification. The team is activated and decides whether an event is, in fact, an incident. (Information about the incident can come from Acronis SCS monitoring system or communication via different teams and customers.)
  • Containment. The team determines the impact, problem coverage, and the affected systems and customers.
  • Eradication. The team investigates to discover the origin of the incident and the root cause of the problem, and then begins the triage process.
  • Recovery. The team monitors every environment for any sign of weakness or recurrence.
  • Lessons learned. The team analyzes the incident and how it was handled, making recommendations to prevent a recurrence and plan for the next incident response.
  • Notification. Internal and external communications ensure all teams and customers understand the impact and resolution steps, and are updated every hour during an incident, or at every significant state of change. Notifications are critical and accompany all stages of incident triage.
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NOTE: Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud offers a full suite of robust, certified-compliant data backup, protection, and cybersecurity solutions designed to fulfill the public sector’s unique requirements. With a full menu of cyber protection solutions managed from a centralized console, Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud empowers public sector agencies of all stripes and sizes to adapt and react in an ever-changing threat landscape.

NOTE: This document and any other related documentation on compliance produced by Acronis SCS does not offer legal advice. Customers are solely responsible for evaluating and fulfilling their own legal and compliance obligations under HIPAA, as well as for using Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud services in an appropriate manner under HIPAA requirements.

NOTE: Acronis SCS does not control how the customer uses cloud services for PHI processing, or the customer’s security management process. Customers should conduct their own risk analysis, implement a risk management plan and a sanctions policy, and conduct an information system activity review. As part of the security management process, customers should consider how Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud or other specific Acronis SCS products fit within its policies and procedures to prevent, detect, contain, and correct security violations.

NOTE: Acronis SCS employees do not access customer data within data centers. Customer and management environments are logically isolated.

NOTE: Acronis SCS does not control how the customer uses cloud services for PHI processing. Due to product specifications, Acronis SCS cannot recognize and separate different types of data. Rather, all customer data is classified as the highest critical asset, in accordance with Acronis SCS’s internal data classification policy.

NOTE: Customers should maintain their own security awareness and training program, including information about how to use and configure Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud to comply with their internal policies and HIPAA requirements (e.g. how to monitor log-in attempts and other logs generated by the systems)

Contingency Plans

Many potential disruptive threats can occur at any time and impact business operations at any location. Acronis SCS considers a wide range of potential threats as part of the risk and business impact analysis at all Acronis SCS locations and acts to mitigate such threats.

Acronis SCS maintains a Business and Disaster Recovery Program that addresses its critical processes and technology at all its data centers. Acronis SCS periodically conducts tests and updates of its internal Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans in order to ensure an adequate reaction and availability of services should disruptive events occur.

Acronis SCS has US data center facilities that meet rigorous standards and compliance needs of the US public sector – including best setup, power, and cooling practices. This approach maintains optimal conditions and uptime to safeguard mission-critical data. Additionally, Acronis SCS has strict requirements for data center locations to reduce or eliminate the probability of the most typical (e.g. natural) disruptive events.

Evaluations

Acronis SCS continually monitors and periodically evaluates applied controls and processes against established requirements of information security and data processing. This procedure ensures the proper implementation of the information security and compliance program. In turn, Acronis SCS can adequately measure the degree of program implementation as well as detect and respond to new information security risks in a timely manner.

In accordance with Acronis SCS internal policies and procedures, the following evaluation activities are provided:

  • Penetration tests. Performed by a third party on an annual basis.
  • Vulnerability assessment. Acronis SCS performs vulnerability scans of internal and data center infrastructure, in accordance with the Annual Program of Vulnerability Scans.
  • External and internal audits. Acronis SCS regularly checks its processes, by conducting internal and external audits.
Business Associate Contracts and Other Arrangements

The Business Associate Agreement establishes responsibilities within the scope of HIPAA requirements and defines obligations of the Covered Entity and Business Associate, regarding PHI processing and protection within the Acronis Cyber Cloud services.

Acronis SCS took care to develop the Business Associate Agreement, taking into consideration the specifics of Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud and Acronis SCS’s role in the processing and protection of PHI. The Acronis SCS Business Associate Agreement is available upon request.

PHYSICAL SAFEGUARDS

Physical Safeguards are a set of rules and guidelines that focus on physical access to PHI.

Acronis SCS hosts customer data within trusted, US data centers, which employ the highest standards of physical security to restrict unauthorized physical access and maintain data safety. There are three standard requirements for HIPAA Physical Safeguards as follows:

Facility Access Controls

Only authorized personnel have access to data centers. Data centers have strict access management, control protocols (access control cards or biometric access control systems), and surveillance cameras (CCTV). All equipment is located in special cages, which are also locked and monitored.

Workstation Use and Security

Although customer data does not leave the data center or US soil and Acronis SCS employees do not access customer data, Acronis SCS applies procedures and configuration standards to employees’ workstations. This approach establishes acceptable use of those workstations (e.g. workstations accounting, full HDD encryption, auto lock, antivirus, clear- screen policy, taking off-site control, etc.).

Device and Media Controls

Acronis SCS uses a software-defined storage solution, which utilizes a proprietary erasure-coding algorithm, and which securely removes customer data. In the case where equipment is broken, switched out for repair, or decommissioned, Acronis SCS takes measures to erase data from a disk and remove residual data from the internal memory of the equipment, according to NIST SP 800-88rev1.

In the event that it is not possible to erase (delete) such information, equipment is physically destroyed in such a way that it’s impossible to read (restore) such data.

TECHNICAL SAFEGUARDS

The Technical Safeguards focus on the technologies (software and hardware) that protect and control access to PHI. The standards of the Technical Safeguards do not require the use of any specific vendor.

There are four standards under Technical Safeguards as follows:

Access Control and Authentication

Acronis SCS maintains an enterprise-wide access control policy that restricts access to information resources and data, in accordance with official duties. Access provisioning is based on the principles of “Need to Know” and “Least Privileges.”

Internal access control procedures detect and prevent unauthorized access to Acronis SCS systems and information resources. When providing access, Acronis SCS uses centralized access control systems with secure mechanisms and authentication protocols (e.g. LDAP, Kerberos, and SSH certificates), unique user IDs, strong passwords, two-factor authentication mechanisms, automatic logoff, and limited control access lists minimizing the likelihood of unauthorized access.

Acronis SCS products also provide access control mechanisms such as unique user IDs, password complexity, automatic logoff, session termination, and encryption.

Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud enforces in-transit and at-rest data encryption by default, with reliable cryptographic algorithms and protocols (e.g. TLS, AES, CurveCP, etc.), though these HIPAA requirements are only deemed “addressable.” In addition, some products allow data encryption by using a customer’s keys, with a length up to 256 bit.

Audit Controls

Acronis SCS uses procedural, software, and hardware mechanisms to audit activities at the backend of Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud.

Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud can provide a chronological record of the following events:

  •  Operations performed by users in the management portal or service
  • System messages (e.g. warnings, errors, etc.)

The log shows events in the tenant in which customers are currently operating and its child tenants.

The default retention period of the logs is not less than 180 days.

Integrity

Acronis SCS products provide mechanisms that protect ePHI from improper alteration or destruction. These mechanisms include access control, reliable networks protocols, encryption, hashing, and validation, which work by default or can be configured by the customer by using Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud.

Transmission Security

To protect information while in-transit over electronic communications networks, Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud network protocols, which ensure ordered and error-checked delivery, together with cryptographic protocols. These ensure the integrity, authenticity, and confidentiality of transmitted data (e.g. TLS and CurveCP).

HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule requires HIPAA-covered entities and their Business Associates to notify impacted parties following a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI).

In the event a breach affects more than 500 patients, the media and public must also be notified.

Covered Entities and Business Associates, as applicable, have the burden of demonstrating that all required notifications have been provided, or that a use or disclosure of unsecured PHI did not constitute a breach. Thus, with respect to an impermissible use or disclosure, a Covered Entity (or Business Associate) should maintain
documentation that all required notifications were made, or alternatively, provide documentation stating notification was not required.

Exceptions include:

  • A risk assessment demonstrating a low probability that PHI has been compromised by the impermissible use or disclosure.
  • The application of any other exceptions to the definition of “breach.”

Acronis SCS maintains a Data Breach Response and Notification Procedure, which considers the HIPAA requirements and describes how Acronis SCS must act in the case of a data breach (e.g. roles, priority, escalation, timing, etc.).

NOTE: As Covered Entities, customers must comply with certain administrative requirements with respect to breach notification. For example, covered entities must have written policies and procedures in place regarding breach notification, train employees on these policies and procedures, and develop and apply appropriate sanctions against workforce members who do not comply with these policies and procedures.

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