Roughly 38,000 Common Security Framework (CSF) assessments have been performed in the last three years. The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) is expecting a continuous demand for CSF certification thanks to the third-party assurance requirements from major health organizations.
The governing body further added that the requests for combining SOC 2 and HITRUST reports are also contributing to the demand for CSF assessments. Through CSF assessments, HITRUST can address a plethora of security, privacy and regulatory challenges facing healthcare organizations.
Transmission of electronic information and secure storage is increasingly becoming more crucial to the healthcare industry. Compliance and data security with mandates like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are essential but the following differ in ways that make them difficult and complex to implement.
A wide range of HIPAA requirements are not only nuanced but are also open to interpretation which makes them quite unreliable. Depending on the available skills and the size of the organization, they may not be understood or employed based on their intended purposes.
HITRUST aims to rectify these problems by establishing a cohesive security approach and a way to demonstrate compliance with HIPAA security requirements to a third-party assessor. This helps lower your risk and evaluate your organization’s overall security against an industry-standard framework.
All businesses within the healthcare industry are currently bombarded with multiple challenges related to information security. These challenges include but are not only limited to:
- Increasing liability and risk connected with information security
- Growing criticism from auditors, regulators, business partners, auditors, and underwriters
- Inconsistent compliance expectations and business partner requirements
- Inefficient and ineffective internal compliance management methods
- Erratic implementation of adoption controls
- Irregular and redundant standards and requirements for healthcare organizations
- Illogical adoption of minimum requirements
- Regulatory concerns over the growing number of data leakage in the industry
Through collaboration with healthcare, business, technology, and information security leaders, HITRUST helps address these industry challenges and enhance existing regulations to mitigate risks.
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What Does HITRUST CSF Stand For?
A HITRUST CSF certification provides a verified framework covering a myriad of security and privacy-related imperatives. These concepts are usually used in identifying crucial information systems for storing, processing, or transmitting confidential information.
They are also responsible for establishing and prioritizing solutions that address root cause problems to reduce system vulnerabilities. By managing these risks and vulnerabilities, organizations can provide a secure and private baseline and mechanism for communicating access controls to different business constituents.
Moreover, a HITRUST CSF certification from RSI Security also lets organizations have a roadmap to data security and compliance. The CSF is certifiable by security assessors and is designed as a risk-based approach to organizational security.
The security control framework adopted by HITRUST is based on the International Organization of Standards (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. Through this framework, health organizations can create, access, store or transmit Protected Health Information (PHI) securely and safely.
Technically, a CSF is organized by approximately 14 control categories which are brimming with 46 control objectives and 149 control specifications that are based on ISO/IEC 27001:2005 AND 27002:2005. These guidelines from ISO were enhanced, leveraging the NIST 800-series framework documents, ISO/IEC 27799:2008 Health Informatics (guidance for information security management for healthcare organizations using ISO/IEC 27002), HIPAA Omnibus, PCI, COBIT, state requirements, and the experience and leading practices of the HITRUST community. Every control specification is consisting of no more than three implementation levels employed to healthcare organizations based on a specific system, organizational and regulatory factors.
Unlike other certifications, the CSF is applicable to healthcare organizations of different sizes and complexities because of its incorporations of all major healthcare information security-related requirements and best practices. It also incorporates the concept of an Information Security Management System (ISMS) to ensure that processes employed in an organization are properly implemented.
The success of an information security program and implementation of the CSF can only be completed if organizations can meet the following requirements.
- Have the complete commitment and support of management before attempting to initiate the CSF
- Transform their organization into auditable business units
- Implement the CSF to confidential information like PHI in all its aspects despite the form of the information takes.
- Employ CSF controls to all data system irrelevant of function or classification
- Have a great understanding of their specific information security requirements
By adhering to the common security framework of HITRUST, organizations can increase trust and transparency among business partners and consumers. This is because the CSF incorporates the best industry practices and streamlines interactions across every touchpoint, thus, building confidence.
Additionally, the CSF also acquires industry consensus on the most efficient way to address information security while tallying the degree of variation in security reviews and audits. Through the implementation of the CSF, organizations will have a primary security baseline and mechanism for transmitting validated security controls without experiencing redundant, frequent, costly and overlapping audits.
What Is The Value Of The HITRUST CSF?
The advantage of a security control framework becomes clear when you take into account that virtually each healthcare provider has more than just one compliance obligation. The translation of HIPAA and HITECH requirements into an actionable roadmap that is mixed with data privacy and security regulations gives organizations with a set of controls to manage compliance throughout a wide range of regulatory requirements.
Through this approach, organizations are able to reduce costs, risks, and complexity while protecting sensitive patient information. Opting for a HITRUST CSF certification from RSI Security also minimizes the risk of non-compliance with HIPAA.
This is because HITRUST CSF already incorporates existing globally-recognized standards like HIPAA, ISO, PCI-DSS, FTC, COBIT, Red Flag, and NIST. In other words, organizations have clear and actionable guidelines that can evolve according to the needs as well as the changes in both the regulatory and industry environment.
Besides that, HITRUST can also save organizations significant time and finance when it comes to audits thanks to the consolidated controls view from CSF. These controls work together to provide visibility into the controls overlapping among multiple regulatory requirements.
In a nutshell, your organization will only need a single assessment to generate a plethora of reports addressing multiple regulatory, legislative and best practice frameworks like PCI-DSS, NIST or HIPAA.
Perhaps the most competitive advantage of HITRUST CSF is its ability to relate with your brand. Most of the consumers today are concerned and aware of privacy breaches and cybercrime.
In fact, a majority of them are too cynical to truly believe the marketing claims of data protection of an organization. Once CSF-certified, your organization can advertise its security and compliance with the proof to back it up.
At present, more than 84% of healthcare organizations are taking advantage of CSF to bolster the security of their PHI and PII storage, access, creation, and exchange. Recent trends further added that approximately 80% of healthcare data will pass through the cloud at some point in its lifetime by the end of next year.
Unlike other certifications, a CSF certificate can still benefit the vendor even if it’s business associates do not need it currently. That is because a CSF certification from RSI Security reduces the security review cycle and provides security and compliance officers comfort about entering into a relationship with a vendor.
Plus, CSF is also flexible and scalable enough to produce control to adhere to any regulatory requirements of an organization. Presently, CSF requires 66 control categories, but more can be generated if an organization needs them.
Employing a scalable security framework is critical in helping organizations become more efficient and competitive in delivering high-quality healthcare services to their patients. The framework of HITRUST is updated frequently to make sure that health companies using the system are ready to adjust whenever new regulations and threats are introduced.
It is considered to be the most heavily updated security program in use with quarterly updates and yearly audit changes performed by organization auditors. In short, employing CSF standards into your organization gives you more opportunities to enhance and maximize information security.
The security framework of HITRUST is built around five maturity levels that are based on the PRISMA model from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. The first three levels concentrate mainly on design effectiveness while the rest focus on the efficiency of the overall operation. These maturity levels include policy, procedures, implementation, measurement, and management.
How does CSF Scoring work?
Getting a CSF certification from HITRUST takes a lot of work. Several estimates suggest that the assessment stage alone can take as long as eight weeks depending on the complexity of the organization and the scope environment.
The CSF assessment takes a long to be completed because it is becoming the benchmark for HIPAA and ISO compliance. Plus, organization specialists also deal with a significant backlog of requests. This is why it is always essential to opt for assessors like RSI Security to make the process easier and stay up-to-date with the latest security measures.
Usually, CSF certifications are initiated by certified assessors who come up with reports detailing the maturity of specific systems within an organization. Dissimilar to PCI or HIPAA compliance, CSF certifications require a passing score of at least three on a scale of one to five in each control category.
Outlined below are the five areas that are used by RSI Security to assess specific compliance levels for every organization.
The policy section mainly focuses on assessing the current policies and standards that cover the major facilities and operations of the organization. Auditors will also evaluate communication between business managers, stakeholders and their entire workforce when it comes to communicating policies and standards properly.
RSI Security auditors will analyze whether the methods for implementation of each required element were communicated to the individuals who will follow them. This is to ensure that people assigned are experienced enough to perform business operations.
HITRUST together with a reputable CSF firm like RSI Security will perform an assessment to determine the consistent implementation of procedures and policies within your organization. They also examine ad hoc approaches to find out if it is employed individually or on a case-by-case basis.
In the measured section, auditors will initiate self-assessments to figure out the adequacy and efficiency of the implementation. This is also where HITRUST personnel assess the frequency in which every element of the requirements is evaluated in accordance with the threat it poses.
The manage section refers to the corrective actions performed to address the identified weaknesses in the elements in the requirement statements. These corrective actions are evaluated depending on the mission impact, costs, and risks. Through these corrective procedures, organizations can determine how the threats can impact the requirements on a periodical basis.
An organization that fails to receive a score of three in the aforementioned categories can still become certified. However, HITRUST and vendors like RSI Security will work together to come up with one or more corrective action plans to improve the organization’s rating and the chances of getting certified.
Achieving CSF Certification
Healthcare companies who want to obtain a CSF certification from HITRUST must initially identify the scope of their certification needs. The systems that need to be certified will rely on the requirements and the controls for each set of requirements.
Steps to Getting CSF-Certified
Step 1: Identify the certification needs of the organization
Step 2: Acquire a subscription to MyCSF tool
Step 3: Conduct a self-assessment of organizational systems and technologies
Step 4: Ask for an external audit from RSI Security and submit the work of the assessor to HITRUST for evaluation
Step 5: Provide HITRUST with the necessary evidence to back up your certification request
Step 6: HITRUST will rate every aspect of the system based on the compliance levels mentioned above.
Step 7: HITRUST will issue the certification if the score is sufficient enough to meet the standards.
The adoption of a top-notch security framework like CSF has provided organizations with an added process wherein they can manage assessments and consolidate the collection of evidence.
It has also led to saving business associates the need to complete multiple risk assessments and compliance, thus, ensuring a centralized process. Know your options and get in touch with RSI Security to learn more about the CSF framework.
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Assess where your organization currently stands with being HITRUST compliant by completing this checklist. Upon filling out this brief form you will receive the checklist via email.