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HITRUST’s Early Efforts to Collect, Share Cyber Threat Data Produces Mixed Results

November 17, 2015
by Heather Landi
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A review of the HITRUST Cyber Threat XChange (CTX), a program to help healthcare organizations collect and share cyber threat information, found that participation, so far, has been low and there are significant gaps in the collection and usability of cyber threat information.

The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) established the Cybersecurity Incident Response and Coordination Center in 2012 in response to an increase in cyber threats and cyberattacks targeted at healthcare organizations and a general lack of awareness, coordination, best practices and education for addressing such threats and attacks. This year, HITRUST updated the Cybersecurity Incident Response and Coordination Center by deploying an infrastructure, CTX, to support automated collection, comprehensive analysis, detailed alerting and standards-based distribution.

As a result of the recent review, HITRUST found that only 5 percent of organizations contributed indicators of compromise (IOC) to the program, while 85 percent of organizations accessed the IOC information. And, of those IOCs shared with the HITRUST CTX in the sampling period, which was August 2015, less than half were considered actionable information, according to a press released from HITRUST.

The findings also highlight the fact that many organizations are not effectively identifying cyber threat indicators internally and, therefore, are unable to contribute them to the HITRUST CTX.

As part of the study, HITRUST deployed Breach Detection Systems at CTX participating organizations that collected data and these detection systems are designed to. During that reporting period, the collection devices identified 286 times more IOCs, and, 24 percent of those identified IOCs were new and not previously submitted by any source to the HITRUST CTX.

“Achieving the ultimate benefits of cyber threat intelligence sharing requires certain key threat indicator requirements be met,” Dave Kaercher, CIO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, said in a statement. “Based on our experience participating in the HITRUST CTX, we better understand the requirements and what has limited us in achieving them to date, and we feel confident we can now address them.”

The report emphasizes the need to effectively identify threats and share information in near-real time to HITRUST CTX to make the IOC useful to others.

The report also highlights a number of recommendations for healthcare organizations, including establishing detailed requirements for IOC sharing, develop an enhanced IOC sharing pilot to quantify the benefits and identify any issues and evaluate methods to incentivize organization to actively engage in cyber threat information sharing.

HITRUST also will be providing 50 Trend Micro Deep Discovery breach detection systems to healthcare organizations representing each segment of the healthcare industry.

“HITRUST is developing selection criteria to identify organizations to receive one of the 50 Trend Micro Deep Discovery systems slated for distribution and anticipates this criteria being available within the next 45 days. The application form can be found here.

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