What needs to be checked during a HIPAA pentest?
The HIPAA Security and Privacy requirements mandate reasonable and appropriate security measures to safeguard the privacy, accuracy, and accessibility of electronic protected health information (ePHI). This information consists of Social Security numbers, names, addresses, medical records, insurance details, and even ties to the family.
There may be both technical and non-technical ePHI security flaws. The use of faulty apps, out-of-date software, and the application of risky cryptography methods are examples of technical issues.
On the other hand, non-technical concerns are mostly related with insufficient rules or procedures, such as an excessively flexible access permission schema, inadequate password rotation, and a lack of response mechanisms for security breaches.
Do I need to run a pentest?
A vulnerability management program is necessary to maintain compliance with both HIPAA penetration testing criteria, claims RSI Security. A routine penetration test may or may not be a part of this program. And the alternative, a vulnerability scan, seems to fall short considering the rise in cybersecurity incidents in recent years.
Why is a pentest a wise decision?
A pentest is a human-led security assessment that looks for logical and design flaws in addition to correcting technical faults in a particular environment, such as a mobile application, a SQL database, or an internal subnet. These features are unlikely to be included in a vulnerability scan. A pentest is therefore a great general choice for maintaining compliance.
What distinguishes a HIPAA pentest from a standard pentest?
At Red Sentry, our pentests typically adhere to the following methodology:
- An initial phase of the process is reconnaissance, during which data on the intended environment are gathered using both “passive” and “active” strategies.
- We work to understand as much as we can about the technology used by the various services functioning in the target environment using this knowledge.
- Once the previous stages are finished—often, a vector of attack is obvious, though this is not always the case—we launch a series of attacks on the different services to guarantee the safety of the environment.
- The client eventually receives a report outlining the findings in great detail.
- The recon phase should concentrate on identifying the types of ePHI that are being stored and moved throughout the environment because ePHI is at the core of a HIPAA pentest. The evaluation team will then have a solid understanding of how data is maintained and where the most useful data should be stored thanks to the technological stack.
The penetration testing service of HIPAA security and privacy regulations should now be the main emphasis of the exploitation phase. Brute force attacks to gain access to an auxiliary application containing performance information on other apps should be given lower priority than, say, a SQL injection that enables an attacker to obtain patient records containing personally identifying information.
The report should also highlight the HIPAA laws that were breached and how they might be fixed going forward.
Testing for HIPAA Compliance in Software
When entering the healthcare sector, it is vital that your team understands the applicable HIPAA laws and regulations in order to include them into your testing plan and approach. Rather than “I am HIPAA compliant,” your software testing methods may need to be reevaluated.
Use these time-tested techniques while getting ready for healthcare software testing to ensure strict compliance:
- Access Control
According to HIPAA compliance guidelines, a user should only have access to the data necessary to complete a particular task. The following seven methods can be used to create stringent access control:
- A list of programs, modules, or places to which users are not permitted access.
- A unique name or number that is used to track each user’s identification within the system and identify them.
- Access controlled by users that requires two-factor identification.
- A user who performs various job responsibilities, for example, will have multiple roles and, as a result, multiple information access privileges. Role-based access determines access rights based on a user’s role.
- Access is restricted by context-based access to particular devices, dates, and times within a given network or information system.
- Methods for acquiring crucial ephi in an emergency have been developed.
- Various techniques that demand that an active session log off after a predetermined amount of inactivity.
- Encrypt and decrypt digital health records (ePHI).
- Encrypted Data Transmission
Use these best practices for sending encrypted data to meet HIPAA requirements: Use proper encryption for any data shared between users, and only authorized users should be able to decrypt it. After testing, you should conduct a risk analysis to identify any data loss or unauthorized access attempts.
- To prevent unwanted access to system data, secure the encryption keys.
- No matter where in the system it is kept, all sensitive data should be encrypted.
- Regularly assess the effectiveness of data encryption algorithms.
- Data Sanitization
The most secure method is to use automated test data generating tools that are built to provide high performance for large data sets. To avoid data leakage while conducting application testing for a healthcare business, make it a habit to generate test data that behaves exactly like real data. For example, replace any existing field data (name, address, SSN, phone number, etc.) with generic data.
- All Test Data Must Be Organized.
Standardize the test data used to verify and validate application modules. For instance, if you are assessing the production of reports for a patient, the data supplied could be:
The definition of testing across multiple levels and factors is aided by data structuring.
- The Audit Trail
Create an audit trail that tracks all actions involving patient data in order to be in compliance with HIPAA regulations. This includes changes, removals, and additions, as well as almost any other action you can think of. The audit trail also records the time the action occurred and the user who performed it, so that any shady activity or data breach can be tracked back to its source.
- Load balancing/Failover
Load balancing and failover plans are used to ensure that the system can continue to operate normally while backups are performed. It also influences whether a system can distribute additional resources when necessary and notice that need when it develops. This is probably the most important reason to follow HIPAA regulations, as patient data loss might endanger a patient’s life.