Atlantic.Net Blog

Atlantic.Net Cloud Hosting: FreeBSD 11 Now Available!

Atlantic.Net is always working to provide our customers with the latest and greatest! We are happy to announce that FreeBSD 11 is now available to provision in our Cloud Hosting Portal.

If you have not already signed up, please sign up for a Cloud Hosting account here, and spin up a server in less than 30 seconds.

To see what’s new in FreeBSD 11, click here.

 


The Beginner’s Guide to HIPAA Compliance

Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is important to the covered entities and business associates that are expected by the federal government to follow the law. However, the requirements of HIPAA and its regulatory agency, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are not as rigid as they first may seem.

Why HIPAA?

The healthcare privacy and security law was written to encompass the broad array of organizations for which it was intended. For that reason, the HHS website notes that “there is no single standardized program that could appropriately train employees of all entities.”[i]

Nonetheless, training is a requirement of HIPAA, so it’s necessary to find a strong beginner’s guide that can be used to train your employees on the essentials of compliance. Most of what is available online through the federal government is either aggregations of disparate pieces of information or sizable PDFs, such as the Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information[ii] – created by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The former is a bit disorganized. While the latter can be great as course material, its 60+ pages are overkill for the purpose of an initial overview.

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Fault Tolerance with Linux High Availability


IT downtime is expensive for any business.  Gartner[I] estimates that each minute of downtime costs $5,600 on average, with true costs depending on the vertical, the size of the company, and other factors.  The cost can be largely avoided, however, with systems designed for high availability and fault tolerance.

Definition: High Availability
Oracle[II] defines high availability as “computing environments configured to provide nearly full-time availability.”  A commonly held standard for high availability is “five nines,” or 99.999 percent uptime.

Not all service providers are able to meet this robust standard, which makes just over 5 minutes of downtime per year permissible.

For organizations that would approach the average downtime cost, achieving even higher availability than “five nines” is important to profitability, and even survival. Atlantic.net offers an industry-leading 100 percent network uptime guarantee, in part by leveraging Linux High Availability (Linux-HA).

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HIPAA-Compliant Hosting Requirements Checklist

The core considerations of HIPAA for any companies working with electronic medical records are privacy and security. The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule are what you need to be concerned with if you are getting certified (unless you are a health insurance company or similarly provide healthcare plans), and they are the same HIPAA-Compliant hosting requirements you should consider in a web hosting company.

Below is 8-part checklist of HIPAA-Compliant hosting requirements. Despite being simple, it covers all the standard bases with enough detail for a general picture of what you need. Here are the nine elements you need for a HIPAA-Compliant hosting environment:

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Can I be HIPAA-Compliant in a Cloud Hosting Environment?

The number of organizations adopting virtualized environments continues to grow in many industries, including health care[I]. Virtualization enables network flexibility that most healthcare organizations could benefit from, but many are held back by a lack of clarity about what virtualization is, and how it relates to compliance.

A virtual environment is one in which a software layer, called a “hypervisor,” has been added to a physical server.  An operating system can then be loaded onto the hypervisor layer to create a “virtual machine” (VM), which is a software-defined server, and as such can do some things not possible with physical, hardware-dependent servers.  The hypervisor layer can determine the precise size and location of the server VMs or “instances” loaded onto it since it provides separation from the physical limitations of each piece of hardware.  As we will explore below, this can benefit organizations through increased agility and automation.

HIPAA compliance can be particularly scary for organizations, due to the implications of a breach of security inherent in health care, the complexity of the regulations, and the severity of potential fines.  Timely access to medical information can be a matter of life and death, but ensuring that information is accessible, portable, and renewable only covers Title I of the Act.  Title II, covering health care fraud and abuse, along with the enforcement-strengthening HITECH Act[II], imposes security and privacy rules on health care providers and the companies that support them. Compliance failures can result in fines of up to $1.5 million[III], and data breaches, which are increasingly common in healthcare[IV], can be even more expensive, particularly when reputational harm is considered.

Fortunately, virtualized environments can not only be HIPAA-Compliant quickly but can make compliance easier.

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What is a VPN and do I need one? Find out!

As we continue to rely more on technology, keeping our information safe is becoming increasingly difficult. With Wi-Fi being the standard form of network communication for most business professionals who are on the go, the need for secure data transmission has become even greater.  Public Wi-Fi locations like coffee shops, the airport, and even your home and office are not safe when sending and receiving data. According to idtheftcenter.org[i], in 2015 alone there were over 177 million cases of identity theft reported.

How do hackers access my data?

The two most popular ways of someone accessing your data over Wi-Fi are sniffing and rogue access points[ii].) Sniffing is when another user nearby captures the data your computer transmits over Wi-Fi, and then reassembles it to look for passwords or other unencrypted account information. The aptly named rogue access point is where someone will create a Wi-Fi hotspot that appears to be legitimate, like “Free Starbucks Wi-Fi,” or “Airport Public Wi-Fi,” and then waits for users to connect to it. Once the user is attached to the hacker’s hotspot, the users’ data transmission is all captured on the hacker’s machine. The hacker can then use specialized programs to reassemble the packet capture to reveal what the user(s) was looking at and if any sensitive information or passwords were used. One of the most effective solutions is to encrypt the traffic going between your infrastructure and your home computer/laptop, which is why VPNs were developed.

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You Should Be Using RAID 10 to Safeguard Your Data

Utilization of RAID 10 in a server provides an increase of disk capabilities while simultaneously providing redundancy and preventing system failure.

What is RAID?

RAID is an acronym that stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks or Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, depending on what specialist you ask. The term “independent” is arguably more appropriate, as RAID arrays may sometimes be made with extremely expensive disks.

In layman’s terms, RAID is a method of configuring two or more hard drives to work as a single unit with differing levels of redundancy and allowing better fault tolerance. “A fault-tolerant design enables a system to continue its intended operation, possibly at a reduced level, rather than failing completely, when some part of the system fails.”[i]

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Ransomware: Malware That Makes You Pay

ransomware-title

What is ransomware?

One of the fastest and most damaging cyber security threats falls under a category called “ransomware.” Ransomware is malicious code that encrypts all the user’s files and is usually downloaded unknowingly. This type of malware gets its name from what it does when a user tries to open an infected file: it prompts the user to pay a ‘ransom’ within a timeframe to receive a decryption key, which would then allow you to decrypt your files.[1] Even if you choose to pay the ransom, there is no guarantee you will gain access to your data. In this article, we will explain steps you can take to protect and secure your environment.

The numbers

Ransomware is a real threat to any business that allows user access, as it depends on users to spread it. Different industries also have different risks, with healthcare usually opting to pay the ransom to protect patient data, while the education industry has the highest rate of infection.  Other lucrative targets include classified documents, financial documents, and intellectual property[2]. With names like Telecrypt, iRansom, FSociety, and CryptoLuck, the goal of ransomware is all the same for their creators: making money. According to Lavasoft, the CryptoWall 3 ransomware cost users $325 million just in 2015 alone.[3] As ransomware grows and evolves, they become even more costly. At the end of 2016, one of the most harmful ransomware is named “Cerber.” Not only does it lock your files from being accessed, but recent variations have incorporated the stealing of personal information and scripts that cause your machine to target other servers.[4]

Source: https://info.bitsighttech.com/bitsight-insights-ransomware

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Intrusion Detection Systems Confront Cyber Security & Cyber Crime Risks

Responsible businesses with sensitive data know they need a firewall to control traffic and secure their networks. What seems less well known, however, is the role that complementary technologies play in a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity.  An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) enables organizations to take a proactive security stance, which is why Atlantic.Net offers one for its security-conscious customers.

Amid all the headline-grabbing data breaches of the past year, the vulnerability of companies in industries like health care may be overlooked.  Data breaches began costing healthcare firms over $5.5 billion annually shortly after HIPAA became law, according to the Ponemon Institute.

Once online criminals have found a profitable target, they tend to return to it with ever more sophisticated attacks.  A report recently indicated that over 75 percent of the healthcare industry had been infected with malware in the past year, and noted that a shocking majority of ransomware targets medical treatment centers.

Cliches like the typical hacker being a teenager living in his or her parent’s basement are persistent, and harmful because they misrepresent the situation to the potential victims of hacking.  The numbers clearly show that hacking is now predominantly committed by sophisticated criminal organizations. Utilizing an IDS is a proactive approach to meeting that threat.

An Intrusion Detection System, or IDS, is a software application that monitors the network and hosting environment and analyzes activity on it.  Any activity which is considered unusual is ranked according to how high risk it is considered based on information from global threat databases.

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