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Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act Moves Forward; HIMSS Voices Support for Amendment

October 23, 2015
by Heather Landi
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The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) moved forward in the Senate on Thursday with support from members of both parties and with the inclusion of an amendment aimed at strengthening privacy protections.

Senators voted 83 to 14 to end debate on several amendments to the CISA and advanced the legislation toward a final vote.

The legislation would give hospitals and health systems liability protection when sharing cyber threat information with the federal government with the aim of improving the nation’s detection, mitigation and response to cyber security threats.

The CISA (S. 754) legislation advances in the Senate with an amendment that aims to strengthen privacy protections and limit the government from accessing shared information in order to address concerns about privacy and surveillance.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) today issued a statement voicing support for the amendment. “This amendment contains critical provisions that would move the entire healthcare community forward in addressing the many challenges of an increasingly complex health IT cybersecurity landscape,” Lisa Gallagher, vice president, technology solutions, HIMSS, said in a statement.

“HIMSS strongly agrees with the establishment of an industry task force to analyze barriers faced by the sector, assess potential lessons learned from other sectors, and develop a plan to ensure all healthcare organizations have access to actionable cyber threat data from the government,” Gallagher said. “Given the multitude of threat data sources and the dynamic nature of the threat, a cyber threat aggregation and analysis function would be extremely beneficial to the sector. Healthcare leaders need this information in one place, in actionable form, in near real time, through a no cost mechanism.”

Gallagher also said the amendment addresses the “pressing need for a more uniform technical landscape by establishing a common set of security and risk management best practices for healthcare that can be implemented consistently across the healthcare sector and mapped to a single, voluntary, national health-specific cybersecurity framework.”

“The provisions in the CISA Manager’s Amendment, if enacted, would create the infrastructure and support required by healthcare, as a critical infrastructure sector, to better identify cyber threats in order to more effectively protect patients and their health information,” the HIMSS statement said.

A few lawmakers, including Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, and many privacy activists have voice strong opposition to the bill. And, several big technology companies, such as Apple and Google have come out against the bill, saying it falls short in protecting users’ personal information and does too little to prevent cyber attacks.

As previously reported in Healthcare Informatics, The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) also supports the CISA legislation, saying that it would “help businesses achieve timely and actionable situational awareness to improve theirs and the nation’s detection, mitigation, and response capabilities against cyber threats.”

“CISA would create a voluntary program to help strengthen the protection and resilience of businesses’ information networks and systems against increasingly sophisticated and malicious actors. The legislation would expand government-to-business information sharing, which is progressing but needs improvement. Further, CISA would incent businesses to share cyber threat data with appropriate industry peers and civilian government entities to bolster our critical infrastructure systems,” Leslie Kriegstein, interim vice president of public policy, CHIME, said.




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