CarePointe ENT Settles HIPAA Lawsuit with Indiana Attorney General

In late September 2023, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a lawsuit against CarePointe ENT over a ransomware attack and data breach that affected 48,742 individuals. A settlement has been reached that will see CarePointe pay $125,000 to resolve alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act and state data privacy and security laws.

CarePointe ENT operates three ear, nose, throat, sinus, and hearing centers in Merrillville, Munster & Hobart in Northwest Indiana. On June 25, 2021, CarePointe ENT experienced a ransomware attack which resulted in files being encrypted and data being exfiltrated. The stolen data included names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, medical insurance information, and health information. Affected individuals were notified about the data breach in August 2021.

AG Rokita launched an investigation into the attack to determine if CarePointe ENT had complied with its obligations under HIPAA and state laws. Despite claiming that it was committed to safeguarding patient information, CarePointe ENT was determined to have failed to implement appropriate security policies, conduct appropriate risk analyses, and address known security risks in a reasonable amount of time.

CarePointe ENT hired a third-party IT vendor that conducted a HIPAA risk analysis and identified security concerns in January 2021. The vendor was hired in March to address the identified vulnerabilities, but they were not fixed in a reasonable time frame. In June 2021, some of the unaddressed vulnerabilities were exploited in a ransomware attack. In addition to the failure to address known security issues, CarePointe ENT failed to enter into a business associate agreement with the vendor, even though the vendor was provided with access to systems containing protected health information.

AG Rokita’s lawsuit alleged one count of a failure to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, one count of failing to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule, one count of failing to comply with the Indiana Disclosure of Security Breach Act (DSBA), and one count of failing to comply with the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (DCSA). CarePointe ENT chose to settle the alleged violations of HIPAA and state laws with no admission of wrongdoing. Under the terms of the settlement, a financial penalty of $125,000 will be paid to the state and CarePointe ENT has agreed to ensure full compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules and the DCSA and DSBA with respect to the safeguarding of personal information (PI), protected health information (PHI), and electronic protected health information (ePHI). CarePointe ENT has also agreed not to make misrepresentations about the extent to which it ensures the privacy, security, confidentiality, and integrity of PI, PHI, and ePHI.

The settlement agreement includes a comprehensive list of privacy and security measures. These include implementing a comprehensive information security program, appointing a HIPAA Security Officer to oversee that program, implementing technical safeguards and controls to ensure the privacy and security of patient data, developing an incident response plan and testing that plan through table-top exercises, developing policies and procedures regarding business associate agreements, and providing privacy and security training to all members of the workforce with access to PI, PHI, or ePHI,

The post CarePointe ENT Settles HIPAA Lawsuit with Indiana Attorney General appeared first on HIPAA Journal.

Urgent Action Required to Address Critical ownCloud Vulnerabilities

Three critical vulnerabilities in the ownCloud platform have been identified, one of which is being actively exploited. Urgent action is required to address the vulnerabilities to protect sensitive networks and sensitive data.

The ownCloud platform is used extensively in healthcare for storing, synchronizing, and sharing files and collaborating and consolidating work processes. As such, the platform is a prime target for malicious actors as it allows them to access highly sensitive data. The Clop hacking groups demonstrated how serious vulnerabilities in file sharing platforms can be, having mass exploited vulnerabilities in Fortra’s GoAnywhere MFT and Progress Software’s MOVEit Transfer solution earlier this year.

Security advisories were issued by ownCloud on November 21, 2023, about three vulnerabilities, the most serious of which has a maximum CVSS v3.1 severity score of 10. The remaining two vulnerabilities have been assigned CVSS scores of 9.8 and 9. Evidence of active exploitation of the flaws was identified by the cybersecurity firm Greynoise from November 25, 2023, with the malicious activity originating from 32 unique IP addresses.

  • CVE-2023-49103 – A critical vulnerability in versions 0.2.0 – 0.3.0 of the graphapi app that allows disclosure of sensitive credentials and configuration in containerized deployments. The graphapi app relies on a third-party library that provides a URL. When the URL is accessed, it reveals the configuration details of the PHP environment, which includes environment variables for the webserver. In containerized deployments, the disclosed information can include the ownCloud admin password, mail server credentials, and license key. The vulnerability has a CVSS severity score of 10 out of 10.
  • CVE-2023-49105 – A critical WebDAV API authentication bypass vulnerability using pre-signed URLs. The vulnerability affects core 10.6.0 – 10.13.0 and can be exploited to access, modify, or delete any file without authentication if the username of the victim is known and the victim has no signing-key configured, which is the default setting. The vulnerability has a CVSS severity score of 9.8 out of 10.
  • CVE-2023-49104 – A critical subdomain validation bypass vulnerability in oauth2 < 0.6.1. An attacker can pass in a specially crafted redirect-URL that bypasses the validation code, allowing the attacker to redirect callbacks to a TLD controlled by the attacker. The vulnerability has a CVSS severity score of 9.0 out of 10.

The Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) issued a warning on December 5, 2023, urging HPH sector organizations to take immediate action and apply the actions recommended by ownCloud. “The nature of this platform is such that it needs to be integrated into the information infrastructure of a customer organization to function, which provides attackers with a target that can potentially provide access to sensitive information, as well as a staging point for further attacks,” explained HC3.

At present, only the CVE-2023-49103 is believed to have been actively exploited in attacks in the wild. This vulnerability should therefore be treated with the highest priority; however, the remaining vulnerabilities should also be addressed as soon as possible as exploitation is likely.

ownCloud notes that while the graphapi app can be disabled, that will not fully address the CVE-2023-49103 vulnerability. The owncloud/apps/graphapi/vendor/microsoft/microsoft-graph/tests/GetPhpInfo.php file should also be deleted and the phpinfo function should be disabled in Docker containers. Owncloud also recommends changing potentially exposed secrets such as the credentials for ownCloud administration, the mail server, the database, and the Object-Store/S3 access key. Owncloud’s mitigations for the vulnerabilities can be found on the following links:

The post Urgent Action Required to Address Critical ownCloud Vulnerabilities appeared first on HIPAA Journal.