Regulatory Compliance, Governance and Security

September 26, 2009  10:19 PM

GLBA and Data Centers | Tips for Compliance


GLBA Privacy Rule
Protecting the privacy of consumer information held by “financial institutions” and other third party vendors and service providers that provide “support services” to these “financial institutions” is at the heart of the financial privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999. The GLB Act requires companies to give consumers privacy notices that explain the institutions’ information-sharing practices. In turn, consumers have the right to limit some – but not all – sharing of their information.

The GLB Act applies to “financial institutions” and other third party vendors and service providers; companies that offer and support financial products or services to individuals, like loans, financial or investment advice, or insurance. The Federal Trade Commission has authority to enforce the law with respect to “financial institutions” that are not covered by the federal banking agencies, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and state insurance authorities. Among the institutions that fall under FTC jurisdiction for purposes of the GLB Act are non-bank mortgage lenders, loan brokers, some financial or investment advisers, tax preparers, providers of real estate settlement services, and debt collectors. At the same time, the FTC’s regulation applies only to companies that are “significantly engaged” in such financial activities, such as DATA CENTERS.

The law requires that financial institutions protect information collected about individuals; it does not apply to information collected in business or commercial activities.

Consumers and Customers
A company’s obligations under the GLB Act depend on whether the company has consumers or customers who obtain its services. A consumer is an individual who obtains or has obtained a financial product or service from a financial institution for personal, family or household reasons. A customer is a consumer with a continuing relationship with a financial institution. Generally, if the relationship between the financial institution and the individual is significant and/or long-term, the individual is a customer of the institution. For example, a person who gets a mortgage from a lender or hires a broker to get a personal loan is considered a customer of the lender or the broker, while a person who uses a check-cashing service is a consumer of that service.

Thus, in short data centers may very well be called upon to become GLBA compliant via an audit or assessment process. My advice, find a competent SAS 70 auditor who can help incorporate GLBA tests into a SAS 70 or find a competent GLBA auditor.

September 26, 2009  10:12 PM

HIPAA Security Rule | Another area for Data Center Compliance


As with the Privacy Rule, the Security Rule is also an important provision that data centers should be compliant with.

Security Rule: The Security Rule complements the Privacy Rule. While the Privacy Rule pertains to all Protected Health Information (PHI) including paper and electronic, the Security Rule deals specifically with Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI). It essentially identifies the three types of security safeguards required for compliance:

• Administrative
• Physical
• Technical

EMR: Regarding Electronic Medical Records, the HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule provisions essentially account for the safekeeping of EMR’s. Thus, a HIPAA | EMR audit conducted in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security rule would test the safeguards of EMR’s, essentially including them in the scope of the audit.

And with the growth of data centers, co-location facilities, and other managed services entities, being compliant with HIPAA would be a smart move. Any organization that is physically housed in any data center would arguably require that very data center to be HIPAA compliant. Find a competent, well-skilled HIPAA auditor to assist you in this endeavor.

September 26, 2009  10:07 PM

HIPAA Privacy Rule | Attention Data Centers | Are you HIPAA Compliant?


First it was SAS 70, then PCI, now HIPAA is fast becoming a requirement for data centers. Here’s what you need to know about the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

An electronic medical record (EMR) is usually a computerized legal medical record created in an organization in which the health information system allows storage, retrieval and manipulation of these respective records.

Electronic medical records, similar to that of hard copy medical records, must be kept in unaltered form and authenticated by the creator. Under data protection legislation, such as HIPAA, responsibility for patient records (irrespective of the form they are kept in) is always on the creator along with one of many custodians of the records, usually a health care practice, facility, or entity, such as DATA CENTERS.

Privacy Rule: The HIPAA Privacy Rule regulates the use and disclosure of certain information held by “covered entities”, which includes health care clearinghouses, employer sponsored health plans, health insurers, and medical service providers that engage in certain transactions. It establishes regulations for the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI).
Although HIPAA was enacted in 1996, the enforcement of the Privacy Rule began in 2003. The Privacy Rule mandates the following:

• Regulates the use and disclosure of protected health information by health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers who transmit financial and administrative transactions electronically.
• Establishes a set of basic consumer protections
• Permits any person to file an administrative complaint for violations
• Authorizes the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.

If your data center needs to be compliant with HIPAA, then find a competent auditor to assist you.

September 25, 2009  1:49 PM

HIPAA Compliance for Data Centers | The How and Why


HIPAA compliance for data centers is fast becoming a hot topic in regulatory compliance. It first started with Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS 70), it is now moving onto the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) provisions, and how the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates may very well be next on the horizon.

In short, it is a string of compliance requirements that has and will continue to be had for data centers, co-location, and managed service entities. And why? Because these types of businesses are at the forefront of virtualization, cloud computing, hybrid clouds, software as a service (SaaS) platforms

So, if a data center undertakes a HIPAA assessment or audit, are they HIPAA compliant, do they get a HIPAA certificate, etc? The best way to answer that is an accounting firm would undertake an Agreed Upon Procedure (AUP) audit an the audit itself would test the requirements as stated in the HIPAA provisions. You would then end up with a data center that is compliant with these very provisions.

In subsequent blogs, i’ll discuss the scope of a HIPAA assessment/audit for a data center.

September 25, 2009  1:34 PM

PCI DSS for DATA CENTERS | It’s only going to become MORE of a Requirement


I attended a recent compliance conference for data centers and the phrase that kept coming up was PCI DSS. That’s right, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, simply known as PCI DSS to millions, is spreading like a virus throughout the business community. Merchants were the first set of businesses to be hit with the compliance mandate, quickly followed by “service providers” that also “process, store, and transmit” cardholder data or transaction data.

Data centers, co-locations, and managed service entities are now quickly getting up to speed with PCI DSS compliance. These types of businesses will fall under the realm of a “service provider”, thus most will more than likely “have to” go through an actual on-site PCI DSS assessment by a Qualified Security Assessor, known as a QSA. The real big news about PCI DSS and data centers is not so much that they are having to become compliant, but what truly is the “scope” of the assessment. I’ll cover that in subsequent blogs, but for now, just be aware of the growing importance of PCI DSS compliance for data centers, co-location, and managed service entities.

To learn more about PCI DSS compliance, visit the official PCI Resource Guide.

September 25, 2009  1:24 PM

SAS 70 Training Videos | The Best Way to Learn about Type I and Type II Audits


SAS 70 training videos are simply the best way to truly gain an understanding of the inner workings on Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70. As an auditor, i’ve been asked many times on this post and others if content can be developed to gain a better understanding of how the Type I and Type II audit process begins and ends. Well, watch the ten (10) SAS 70 training videos and you’ll quickly get up to speed on all you need to know about Type I and Type II audits. Listed below are the topics of each of the ten (10) videos.

1. Introduction to the SAS 70 Auditing Standard

2. SAS 70 Type I Audits

3. SAS 70 Type II Audits

4. SAS 70 & Audit Scope

5. SAS 70 Audit Cost & Pricing Factors

6. SAS 70 Readiness Assessment and Questionnaires

7. SAS 70 Audit Planning and Audit Fieldwork Activities

8. SAS 70 Roadmap to Compliance

9. Frequently Asked Questions

10. Concluding Thoughts on SAS 70 Audits

Visit the official SAS 70 Resource Guide to learn more about SAS 70 Type I and Type II audits and to also view the SAS 70 Training Videos.

August 29, 2009  1:53 PM

Protecting the Privacy of Social Security Numbers Act | S. 141


Congress yet again is combating the fraud issues associated with private consumer information. The “Protecting the Privacy of Social Security Numbers Ac” (S. 141) is another good example of this.

Essentially, this bill encompasses the following measures:

It prohibits any person from displaying, selling, purchasing an individual’s Social Security number without the affirmative, express consent of the individual, subject to a number of exceptions (e.g., for national security, law enforcement, or public health purposes, or if the display is required, authorized, or excepted under any Federal law). This bill would also would prohibit any federal, state, or local government from displaying Social Security numbers on public records posted on the Internet or from printing them on government checks.

What is interesting to note is a clause at the beginning of the bill where the Senate actually “acknowledges” the seriousness of these issues by stating the following:

“The inappropriate display, sale, or purchase of Social Security numbers has contributed to a growing range of illegal activities, including fraud, identity theft, and, in some cases, stalking and other violent crimes.”

Again, yet another example of how security and privacy will continue to be a formidable topic in Washington, D.C. and rightfully so.

Visit the official SAS 70 Resource Guide and the official PCI DSS Resource Guide to learn about two of the most prominent and well-known compliance issues affecting businesses today.

August 29, 2009  1:43 PM

Data Breach Notification Act (Introduced in Senate) | S. 139


Well, Regulatory Compliance, Governance, and Security is alive and well in Washington, D.C. again. Don’t be fooled to thinking that the current laws will be the end. The ongoing push for these initiatives, along with an added emphasis on privacy and the protection of the consumer, will continue. As I have stated a number of times, compliance initiatives like PCI DSS are just the beginning.

On January 6, 2009, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the Data Breach Notification Act, introduced in the Senate as S. 139. Read below for some of the bills notable highlights:

“Any agency, or business entity engaged in interstate commerce, that uses, accesses, transmits, stores, disposes of or collects sensitive personally identifiable information shall, following the discovery of a security breach of such information notify any resident of the United States whose sensitive personally identifiable information has been, or is reasonably believed to have been, accessed, or acquired.”

And how about one of the provisions for enforcement of the bill, which states the following:

“Civil Actions by the Attorney General- The Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against any business entity that engages in conduct constituting a violation of this Act and, upon proof of such conduct by a preponderance of the evidence, such business entity shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 per day per individual whose sensitive personally identifiable information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, accessed or acquired by an unauthorized person, up to a maximum of $1,000,000 per violation, unless such conduct is found to be willful or intentional.”

To sum it up, compliance, as I stated earlier, is alive and well.

Visit the official SAS 70 Resource Guide and the official PCI DSS Resource Guide to learn more about two of the most well-known compliance initiatives currently affecting organizations in today’s business environment.

August 29, 2009  1:31 PM

PCI DSS Compliance | Watch out for the “Road Blocks”


PCI DSS Compliance, especially on-site reviews conducted by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), can take an immense amount of time in completing and receiving one’s Report on Compliance (ROC).
What most merchants and service providers fail to recognize is that there are numerous issues that could potentially cause “roadblocks” on the way to achieving PCI DSS compliance.

As a QSA, I’ve listed some examples of common items that require remediation prior to achieving compliance. These items are considered major “roadblocks” because of either the time, money and investment needed to incorporate them into the cardholder data environment:

1. Two-factor authentication
2. Web application firewall and/or software code reviews.
3. Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)
4. Documented Policies and Procedures specifically related to PCI DSS compliance.

These four items are typically what catch merchants and service organizations off-guard. Be prepared, be proactive; find a quality, competent QSA to help with all your PCI DSS compliance needs.

August 24, 2009  12:18 AM

MasterCard SDP Program | Attention Level 2 Merchants | PCI DSS


The MasterCard SDP Program has essentially made changes that now require Level 2 Merchants to have an annual on-site review of their security controls by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) for purposes of complying with PCI DSS. Let me state for the record, as a QSA, this is big news. There are now scores of Level 2 Merchants that cannot “Self Assess” anymore, thus having to comply with an actual on-site assessment by a QSA. And to be fair, can you really blame MasterCard when the chatter of late has been that most merchants simply “check the box” on their self-assessment, not giving it much though or due care. Well, not any more as Level 2 Merchants will now need to be prepared to face the rigors of an annual on-site assessment.

My advice, find a competent, cost-effective QSA who really knows what he/she is doing. Second, engage with a Qualified Security Assessor Company (QSAC) to conduct a PCI DSS Readiness Assessment for determining how “ready” your organization is for actually undertaking an annual on-site assessment. They take time to complete and require resources, to say the least.

If you want to learn more about PCI DSS, visit the Official PCI DSS Resource Guide.

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