Organizations that achieve HITRUST certification benefit from streamlined compliance across many industries. However, the timeline for HITRUST certification depends on organization readiness and several compliance considerations. Read on for a HITRUST 101 breakdown of the certification timeline.
Determining the Timeline for HITRUST Certification
The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) is a comprehensive, voluntary cybersecurity structure that streamlines compliance for eligible organizations across many industries. Although the HITRUST CSF initially applied to just companies within and adjacent to the healthcare industry, its scope has changed over the years to cater to various industries.
A HITRUST 101 of the certification timeline for organizations looking to obtain certification accounts for:
- Validation assessment
- Ongoing assessment
Evaluating the factors involved in the HITRUST certification process will help your organization prepare accordingly. In addition, HITRUST CSF certification helps organizations achieve compliance across multiple frameworks and regulations (e.g., state, federal, or international). This collation of various compliance efforts will reduce the overall burden regardless of the CSF’s initial implementation timeline.
Timeline for HITRUST Certification
The timeline for obtaining HITRUST CSF certification depends on each organization but is broken down by specific steps, including:
- Self-assessment – 2 to 8 weeks
- Validated assessment – 6 to 8 weeks
- Certification – 3 to 24 months
- Annual assessment – Depends on each organization and specific assessment
Each step of the HITRUST certification process requires adequate preparation to ensure a seamless certification. Working out the HITRUST 101 aspects with a HITRUST compliance partner can help improve preparedness.
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The two to eight-week HITRUST CSF self-assessment is an opportunity to assess preparedness for HITRUST compliance and certification.
A HITRUST assessment also helps your organization identify and resolve:
- Security gaps and vulnerabilities
- Potential sources of failed HITRUST compliance testing
- Areas of HITRUST compliance improvement
Self-Assessment Timeline Variables
The exact timeline of this self-assessment depends on various factors, including:
- The complexity of your business, based on:
- Industry-specific operations (e.g., card payment processing)
- Third-party interactions (e.g., cloud security, sensitive data storage)
- Systems and processes (e.g., applications, databases, servers)
- Size of your business, based on:
- Number of employees
- Geographic locations of organization sites
- Distribution of operations (geographic or otherwise)
Vulnerability remediation is essential to address any security gaps identified in the self-assessment. Investing in HITRUST training and certification resources can help your organization conduct robust self-assessments and guide the overall compliance process.
Self-Assessment Using the MyCSF Tool
The MyCSF Tool helps organizations to seamlessly self-report on HITRUST CSF compliance implementation.
Specific strengths of the MyCSF tool, amenable to any HITRUST CSF-eligible organization include, but are not limited to:
- Streamlined compliance across multiple frameworks and regulatory authorities (e.g., Department of Health and Human Services for HIPAA)
- Tailored assessments to fit organization-specific needs
- Tracking submitted CSF assessment reports and reviewing HITRUST Alliance assessment feedback
- Planning and scheduling validated assessments
Self-assessment using the MyCSF tool will help streamline your organization’s self-assessment efforts.
Following the self-assessment, your organization undergoes a validated assessment, which takes anywhere from six to eight weeks. A validated assessment is the same as a self-assessment but conducted by a HITRUST-approved assessor.
The validated assessment is based on the following benchmarks:
- CSF Assurance Program assessment methodology
- HITRUST Maturity Approach to control implementation
Assessments that meet or exceed current CSF Assurance Program requirements are considered HITRUST CSF-certified and receive a HITRUST validated report.
HITRUST assessment (self or validated) will help address outstanding compliance issues and improve your organization’s overall cybersecurity, especially while under the advisory of a leading HITRUST CSF-qualified assessor.
HITRUST CSF Certification
Once your validated assessment is submitted, the HITRUST Alliance conducts an audit to determine the validity of the compliance certification. HITRUST audits take anywhere from three to 24 months.
The HITRUST Alliance will review documents, including:
- Security policies (e.g., incident response, sensitive data protection)
- Technical documentation (e.g., operations procedures, records)
- Risk assessments (e.g., system testing data)
- Configurations (e.g., critical network or applications)
The HITRUST Alliance awards a HITRUST CSF Certificate to organizations that complete the certification process, attesting to certified HITRUST CSF compliance.
HITRUST CSF certification is simply the beginning of ongoing compliance efforts. Your organization must remain compliant with the HITRUST CSF to mitigate risks to sensitive data and overall cybersecurity.
Ongoing assessments take anywhere from four to eight weeks, depending on the complexity of each. Benefits of ongoing HITRUST CSF assessment include:
- Faster and simpler with only a few changes to security processes
- Maintain compliance across multiple frameworks
- Ensure client confidence and reputational protection
- Avoids non-compliance penalties and fines
- Lower assessment costs
Your organization can maintain ongoing HITRUST CSF compliance efforts with the help of a HITRUST CSF assessor and compliance advisor.
Optimize Your HITRUST CSF Certification Timeline
The timeline for HITRUST CSF certification depends on your assessment needs and other factors, as outlined above. Achieving ongoing HITRUST CSF compliance will help protect your critical digital assets and minimize the risks of costly data breaches.
As a leading HITRUST CSF Assessor, RSI Security will help your organization navigate the certification process, providing HITRUST 101 guidance on compliance best practices and remediation efforts.
Contact RSI Security today to optimize your certification timeline.