" encryption Archives - LuxSci

Posts Tagged ‘encryption’

5 Ways to Prevent Human Impacts on Your Cybersecurity Program

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

There are multiple ways that humans impact cybersecurity and can put data at risk. From being tricked by phishing emails to choosing easily guessed passwords, insider fraud and mistakenly classifying the security level of emails and other content, the actions of your employees can make your data vulnerable.

While the impact of human errors can’t be eliminated entirely, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the effects humans can have on your cybersecurity. Five of these steps are detailed below.

prevent human effects on cybersecurity

1. Adopt an “Opt-out” approach to encryption

At LuxSci, our philosophy is to limit risk by taking basic security choices out of employee hands. Instead of relying on employees to encrypt emails with sensitive contents, we automatically encrypt every message by default. This makes it more difficult for an employee to carelessly send out sensitive emails without the proper safeguards.

Conversely, when taking an opt-in approach to cybersecurity, employees are responsible for remembering to encrypt each email before sending. Anytime an employee forgets to take this step, it represents a potential security breach with all the liability that entails. Adopting an opt-out approach to encryption reduces this risk significantly. While many companies use opt-in processes because of their convenience, they introduce a high degree of risk. LuxSci’s SecureLine encryption technology enables a new generation of email encryption that features both flexibility and security.

2. Implement strict email filtering and network firewalls

Are you familiar with the aphorism “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? By taking steps to prevent malicious threats from reaching your systems and networks, your employees will not have to spend their time trying to figure out what is a threat.

Email filtering

Phishing is one of the greatest threats to cybersecurity. Rather than relying strictly on human judgement with regard to which emails to open, using a sender policy system that filters or flags suspicious incoming emails can appreciably improve cybersecurity. Don’t count on your busy employees to know when an email is suspicious. Instead, use email filtering to keep those emails from even entering their inboxes.

Network firewalls

Firewalls help prevent attackers from gaining easy access to your network. They prevent suspicious connections or messages from connecting to the network or reaching their intended destination. By serving as a first line of defense, a firewall plays a major part in shielding your network from cyberattacks. By preventing external threats from accessing your applications, you don’t need to count on your employees to recognize when something isn’t right.

3. Prevent human impacts on cybersecurity by training staff

Almost every modern workplace relies on internet-connected devices to get work done. However, just training staff to use your technology effectively is not enough. With cyberattacks growing in frequency, keeping your staff aware of the latest cybersecurity threats is essential to protect your business. With data breaches, denial-of-service (DoS), and ransomware attacks accounting for tremendous financial losses, failing to prepare your staff for the danger these attacks pose to your IT operations can be costly.

Your employees can prevent security breaches if they are properly trained in the latest cybersecurity best practices. Some complex security breaches can evade even the best automated security measures. If your staff knows what to look for, they can play a crucial role in augmenting your existing security measures.

In addition, hackers often target employees as their first access point for gaining entry to a network. As a result, restricting cybersecurity training to just the IT department can leave your employees vulnerable to social engineering, phishing emails, and other exploits used by hackers to dupe them.

A cybersecurity training program can help reduce risks by familiarizing employees with the tricks used by hackers to gain access to their accounts. As part of the training program, it’s important to test employees on core concepts to ensure the message is retained.

4. Enforce strong password and access control policies

To reduce the risk of security breaches, a robust password protection program is necessary. One of the key elements is enforcing password complexity. Simple passwords are vulnerable to brute force hacking, enabling hackers to easily access employee accounts.

Requiring staff to use unique, complex passwords makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to an account. A complex password can include multiple types of characters (numbers, letters, capitalization, special characters) and minimum character lengths. Learn more about creating secure passwords in our blog archives.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is another key element of a robust security policy. By requiring more than a single action to access an account, you can drastically cut down on security breaches due to lost or stolen passwords. Given that compromised passwords are a significant cause of security breaches, using MFA is a powerful tool for bolstering network security.

In addition, setting up time-based access controls for your sensitive systems can prevent bad actors from gaining unauthorized access. For example, if you have an employee who works a 9am-5pm shift, you can prevent her from accessing the system from 6pm-8am. That way if a bad actor did get her credentials, they would be unable to login when she was offline. This could prevent someone from taking over your systems overnight.

5. Adopt the Zero Trust security stance

What is Zero Trust Architecture? Essentially, it is a policy for guarding against cyberattacks by assuming that every aspect of a network is subject to attack. This includes potential insider threats from employees or attackers who have infiltrated your network. This contrasts with other security approaches that assume that traffic within a network’s security perimeter can automatically be trusted. Instead, Zero Trust Architecture minimizes the security perimeter as much as possible to reduce the chance of a security breach and evaluates the credentials and actions of users at all levels of access to identify any actors inside the network who may pose a threat.

By providing a more granular level of threat detection and limiting access within the network, a Zero Trust security approach is more rigorous than existing security models focused primarily on perimeter security.

ZTA improves security without imposing unduly burdensome requirements. It gives users access to just the minimum level of data and services needed to fulfill their role. This can help stop insider threats from employees. If a lower-level employee with little access to sensitive data has their credentials compromised, it is less threatening to the organization’s data security. The attacker will not be able to penetrate other parts of the network without additional identity verification.

Limiting human impacts on your cybersecurity to decrease risk

Humans can amplify cybersecurity risks in many ways. Between careless mistakes and intentional sabotage, there are a number of things that employees can do to expose your company to cybersecurity risks. The steps listed above comprise a comprehensive set of measures you can take to minimize negative human impacts on cybersecurity. In conjunction with a robust security solution, these measures can significantly enhance your cybersecurity defenses.

Secure your organization by contacting us to find out how to get onboard with LuxSci.

Outbound Email Encryption for Google Workspace

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Google Workspace is one of the world’s most popular email platforms. Although it is more than adequate for basic email correspondence, Gmail does not come configured to meet HIPAA email security requirements. To use Google Workspace in a HIPAA-compliant manner, you need to use a third-party connector to secure your communications.

outbound email encryption for google

Read the rest of this post »

5 Questions to Find the Right HIPAA-Compliant Email Marketing Platform

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

If you are subject to HIPAA regulations- think twice before sending off that marketing email blast to your customers. If your emails contain ePHI, stop and make sure you are using a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform before sending.

Not all email marketing platforms were designed with HIPAA compliance in mind. In fact, it can be difficult to figure out which vendors will allow you to send HIPAA-compliant emails on their platforms. We created this list of five questions to help you screen potential vendors for compliance.

hipaa compliant email marketing

1.    Is your email marketing platform HIPAA-compliant and HITRUST certified?

It’s a simple question, but if the vendor does not mention anything about HIPAA or HITRUST certification on their website, it’s a good indicator that they are not secure enough to be compliant. As you probably know, HIPAA regulations can be onerous, and many companies do not have the time, expertise, or desire to update their technology. On the other hand, if they have taken the time and spent the money to invest in the serious security steps needed for HIPAA compliance, you should be able to find something about it in their marketing.

2.    Will the vendor sign a Business Associate Agreement?

If you are sharing ePHI with a vendor (including lists of patient names and email addresses), you must have a BAA in place that outlines their responsibilities to protect your ePHI. If a vendor will not sign a BAA with you, it is an obvious sign that you cannot use their platform for HIPAA-compliant email marketing.

However, even if a vendor will sign a BAA, it does not mean that you can use their platform and comply with HIPAA. Read the fine print! Some companies have very restrictive BAAs that severely limit the functionality of the platform and prevent you from sending emails. We call these vendors “quasi” compliant. The only comply with HIPAA, if you abide by strict rules that prevent you from actually using their solution.

For an example, take Constant Contact. They will sign a BAA. However, they explicit state in their BAA that you:

“Should not use our systems for transmitting highly sensitive PHI (for example: mental health, substance abuse, or HIV information). Our application was not built for electronic medical records (EMR). If you have such information to send, please do not use Constant Contact.”

Constant Contact does not encrypt outbound emails, making it a poor choice for a HIPAA-compliant email marketing vendor. Depending on your email use cases, you could be unable to send any emails on their platform. Even worse, if you mistakenly send emails that contain ePHI you will be held liable for violating HIPAA, not Constant Contact, because you violated the terms of the BAA.

3.    Does the email marketing platform protect data at rest and in transit?

Encryption is an addressable standard as part of the HIPAA Security Rule. Encryption is highly recommended to protect ePHI in all digital communications.  Many email marketing platforms have adopted encryption methods that are secure enough to protect ePHI while it remains in their systems. However, that’s not enough to comply with HIPAA. You should specifically ask about their ability to encrypt outbound emails. Data in transit is extremely vulnerable to malicious actors, and therefore you need to encryption to protect emails containing ePHI. If a vendor does not provide encryption for outbound marketing emails then you should not consider using them.

4.    How does the email marketing platform encrypt emails?

If a vendor says that they do encrypt outgoing messages, it’s important to consider these additional questions.

  • How are they encrypting those emails?
  • Do the encryption methods match your email use cases?

As a marketer, you want your emails to directly reach the recipient with as little friction as possible. If the recipient has to login to another platform to read the email, it’s unlikely to be read. A good HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform will use TLS encryption to send marketing messages directly to inboxes that support it. Emails sent with TLS encryption appear just like any other message directly in the recipient’s inbox.

However, there may be scenarios when you need to use more secure encryption methods. We recommend finding an email marketing vendor that is flexible and will let you select the right method of encryption for any type of message. For example, you may want to use a portal-based encryption method to send highly sensitive messages. Either way, make sure your vendor can support your needs with the right type of email encryption.

5.    Does the platform allow you to send ePHI in the body of your emails?

Finally, the most important question to ask is: can I include highly sensitive patient information in an email? If you cannot, you can’t use the full power of the email marketing platform to create targeted, personalized and relevant messages. At best, you can only send generic office newsletters. If you want to create the types of marketing emails that will drive ROI and improve patient engagement, utilize your patient data for personalization and segmentation.

HIPAA-Compliant Email Marketing Platforms

LuxSci’s Secure Marketing platform was built from the ground up with HIPAA compliance in mind. If you would like to learn more about how to create compliant email marketing campaigns utilizing ePHI, please let us know.

 

 

What End-to-End Email Encryption Really Means

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

As security and privacy become more prominent in the news, you’re probably starting to hear the term end-to-end email encryption a lot. But what does it actually mean? You may have a rough idea that it protects your data, but many people are vague on the specifics. However, it’s the details of end-to-end encryption that are the most important. After all, it only takes one false assumption to put your data at unnecessary risk.

What Is End-to-End Encryption

Read the rest of this post »

HIPAA-compliant Email Host or SMTP Connector?

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

choosing hipaa compliant email

You may have heard that you need to use HIPAA-compliant email to protect your organization’s ePHI, but many people aren’t sure where to go from there. Don’t worry if you fall into this camp, because this article will explain your options in depth.

The most straightforward solution is to simply sign up for a HIPAA-compliant email host. These are providers who specifically design their email services to be compliant with HIPAA regulations. A good example is LuxSci’s Secure Email.

If you currently use tools like Google Workspace or Microsoft Office 365 for your email, you might be looking for ways that you can adapt them for HIPAA compliance. The good news is that this is possible with an outbound encryption tool like our HIPAA-compliant SMTP connector.

Some organizations may pursue this option because they need certain features that these programs offer, while others may be hesitant to introduce new software and have to train their employees to use it.

Why Do You Need a HIPAA-compliant SMTP Connector for Google Workspace, Microsoft Office & Other Services?

These services aren’t designed to be HIPAA-compliant. Tools like Google Workspace, Microsoft Office 365, and Microsoft Exchange are designed for the mass market, so HIPAA compliance and security were not significant factors during their development.

This means that they are unsuitable for protecting ePHI straight out of the box. In the case of Google Workspace, it lacks a HIPAA-compliant email encryption solution. Microsoft does have one, but it is difficult to configure. A solution like LuxSci’s Secure SMTP Connector hooks up to your existing email service, bridging the gap to make your outbound email secure and HIPAA-compliant.

LuxSci Secure Connector

LuxSci Secure Connector

 

HIPAA-compliant SMTP connectors can also help you send emails if your internet service provider prevents or limits your outbound mail server from sending messages. On top of this, they can also add SMTP authentication to your outbound email system, as well as offer encryption and archival mechanisms. SMTP servers can also assist you in adapting your existing mail service in a variety of other ways.

Should You Use a HIPAA-compliant Email Host or an SMTP Connector?

Every organization will come to its own conclusion, based on the factors that matter most in its unique situation. If your main concern is making your company’s HIPAA compliance as easy as possible, then a HIPAA-compliant email host is probably your best option.

These are developed with the regulations in mind, and are designed to make compliance simple, with configuration options that suit a range of scenarios. With a HIPAA-compliant email host, you are less likely to misconfigure it and accidentally expose ePHI. 

LuxSci’s HIPAA-compliant email is designed to offer you a high level of performance and functionality, without having to constantly worry about regulatory headaches.

In contrast, some organizations aren’t in a position where they are ready to switch to a new email host. If they rely on certain software features in Google Workspace or Microsoft Office 365, it’s best for them to deploy LuxSci’s secure connector so that they can protect their outbound email sending.

Setting up and maintaining HIPAA compliance may be more complicated if they pursue this option, but it’s still a better choice than completely disregarding their regulatory obligations.

LUXSCI