The Coalfire Blog

Welcome to the Coalfire Blog, a resource covering the most important issues in IT security and compliance. You'll also find information on Coalfire's insights into the unique cybersecurity issues that impact the industries we serve, including Cloud Service Providers, RetailFinancial Services, Healthcare, Higher Education, Payments, Government, Restaurants, and Utilities.

The Coalfire blog is written by the company's leadership team and our highly-credentialed security assessment experts. We look forward to your comments, so please join the conversation.


  • How Hospitals Can Tie Cost Reduction to a Solid Data Security Program

    February 12, 2019, Michelle Caswell, Principal, Healthcare Assurance Services, Coalfire

    When I have conversations with hospitals and other organizations subject to HIPAA, one of the first questions asked is “if I have a data breach, will OCR fine me, and if so, how much?” Many organizations decide to gamble: they opt to save time and money by not implementing a robust information risk and compliance program on the chance that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) won’t fine them in the event of a breach. Although the OCR is the regulatory agency that enforces HIPAA, their fines are only one potential expense an organization incurs for a data breach.

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  • HIPAA Complaints, OCR Investigations, and Security Risk Analysis for Healthcare Delivery Organizations – A Common Thread

    November 26, 2018, Rich Curtiss, Principal, Healthcare Risk Assurance Services

    Many HIPAA covered entities (CEs) and business associates (BAs) may not be meeting the regulatory mandate as defined in §164.308(a)(1)(ii)(A) of the HIPAA Security Rule. This implementation specification requires that healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) “Conduct an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the covered entity or business associate.”

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  • A huge applause from the NIST-OCR-HIPAA 2015 conference

    September 09, 2015, Andrew Hicks, Managing Principal, Coalfire

    It looked like the 8th annual conference may have garnered record-breaking attendance as I noticed hotel staff rushing to add skirted tables and chairs to the back of the room to accommodate a standing-room-only crowd.  I guess that was to be expected given the star-studded line-up of presenters including HHS OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels, her brand new Deputy Director, Deven McGraw, and the OCR enforcer, Iliana Peters.  We also heard from government officials at the FTC, the ONC, NIST’s NCCoE, and the HHS Preparedness and Response office.  The audience responded to each session with a line of people trailing from the microphone set up for Q&A – and with excellent questions, too!

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  • Is penetration testing required for HIPAA compliance?

    June 22, 2015, Andrew Hicks, Managing Principal, Coalfire

    In this blog post we’re going to focus our discussion on the technical requirement part of this standard.  The evaluation is supposed to establish the extent to which a covered entity’s (or business associate’s) security policies and procedures meet the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule.  A question is posed: how does an organization evaluate this requirement without performing specific technical testing?

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  • Final HITECH Act Stage 3 Meaningful Use Rules May Require Annual Risk Analysis plus a Risk Management Component

    June 03, 2015, Andrew Hicks, Managing Principal, Coalfire

    The comments are in and the HHS is scrambling to review them all before they issue the final Stage 3 Meaningful Use rules later this summer.  Comments from entities such as CHIME and HIMSS represent good news and bad news for healthcare providers, depending on how you look at it.  The HIPAA Security Rule has always required a risk analysis, but now there could be an annual requirement for risk analyses.

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