As administrators for our servers, we may find ourselves needing to do certain things while on the go. We may also not have a laptop or PC within reach. But one thing most of us have at all times is a cell phone. Whether we have an Android or an iPhone, most of us do possess a smartphone. One thing great about these smartphones is their constant connection to the Internet. Having that constant connection makes it simple to use various apps that assist with admin tasks through our smartphones. Here is a list of five applications available both on iPhone and Android. If you are interested in checking them out, click on your phone’s type next to the application name. You can also search for these applications by name in your smartphone’s app store. Continue reading “5 Android/iPhone Apps for IT Admins”
In this guide, we outline the essential requirements for HIPAA compliant servers and how Liquid Web helps fulfill these necessities.
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, was passed by Congress to protect sensitive user information related to health insurance. This act helps to reduce health care fraud and mandates a standard for handling confidential healthcare information for consumers and businesses.
HIPAA compliance protects this sensitive information and specifies proper guidelines and standards for handling health insurance data. HIPAA also establishes rules for handling, administering, and maintaining electronic servers as well as the hosting of this Protected Health Information. Read more here.
Key Terms and Important Information:
- HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
- PHI – Protected Health Information
- Access Control – To limit who can log in or access sensitive PHI data. Access control helps provide accountability for authorized usage and access to servers with confidential information. HIPAA requires that all users are uniquely identifiable and that the server hosting PHI data is only accessible to specifically authorized users and entities.
- Audit Control – To log and record hardware, software and procedural work done to maintain and repair HIPAA compliant servers and data centers. HIPAA requires accurate and uniquely accountable logs for the type of work performed, what was accessed, and by whom. This notation is closely related to access control by limiting maintenance to authorized and uniquely identifiable persons or entities, but also refers explicitly to logging any maintenance of physical hardware or server software.
- Facility Access Control – To limit physical access to the data center from unauthorized or unaccountable persons. This control makes sure that only designated workers have access to physical servers containing PHI. Liquid Web’s data centers are HIPAA compliant and properly limit access to all servers.
To be HIPAA compliant, you must have firewalls in place. Most of the time, compliant hosting will implement hardware, software, and application level firewalls to protect the server from unauthorized users. This security applies to Access Control as well as Transmission Security, which protects PHI from unauthorized access.
HIPAA regulations state the firewalls must be system-wide. The firewall implementations are part of the requirements for limiting access to personal information stored on the server. Firewalls that are properly setup will limit or prevent accessibility from anyone who should not have access, often using explicit whitelists and blacklists. This setup prevents unauthorized employees, clients, or hackers logging into servers with sensitive data.
To be allowed through the firewall your users must have a uniquely identifiable username or identification that has been explicitly allowed access permission. At Liquid Web, our networking team is at hand to secure your server with hardware firewalls, while our support team is ready to protect sensitive PHI data with software firewalls.
HIPAA compliance requires that remote access to the server through an encrypted VPN tunnel. This VPN protects data entering into the tunnel with an encrypted session that lasts only as long as the session exists. Work done between the remote workstation and the server is protected from interception via this encryption. At Liquid Web, our VPN services are automatically encrypted in order to protect your data.
Password management is an essential part of HIPAA compliance. Safeguarding passwords and isolating them to identifiable users is integral to the protection of sensitive data. Using multi-factor authentication is highly recommended for this process.
Multi-Factor Authentication forces users logging into the secured server system to use both a password and another form of authentication, such as a mobile device, verifying their identity for granting intended access. Authenticating makes it much more difficult for hackers and unauthorized users to use stolen or brute force-acquired login credentials to access the server, as the user will have to do a secondary verification from a device that is unique to them.
Many companies utilize Google Authenticator which allows your users to have a phone app to use as their secondary verification method. Multi-Factor Authentication falls under Access Control.
If you want to be HIPAA compliant, your server cannot be on shared hosting. You must have a server that cannot be accessed by any other business or entities, which means it needs to be private or dedicated to your business. This isolated includes requiring a private IP address that is not used by another entity.
By running on shared hosting, you are breaking HIPAA compliance by allowing non-authorized users access to the server. Hosting with Liquid Web gives you your own private, dedicated server strictly used by your business.
HIPAA requirements for limiting user access and having proper authentication. The server itself must also exist within a HIPAA compliant data center. Liquid Web has a high-security, HIPAA compliant data center that all of our clients are hosted within, falling under Facility Access Control.
An SSL certificate must protect any part of your website where sensitive information can be accessed. An SSL provides end-to-end encryption for the accessed data and logins used, to further protect access to the server. HIPAA defines PHI as Protected Health Information and anywhere that a user can access PHI must be protected with SSL.
For more information about SSL and how it works, click here.
A BAA is necessary for HIPAA compliant hosting as it designates the role of the hosting company and defines responsibility for different parts of HIPAA compliance. It does not resolve your business of its HIPAA related duties, but it represents the roles that your business and the hosting company partake.
This Business Associate Agreement allows a hosting company the necessary access to servers to maintain them, while still preventing any other businesses’ unauthorized access to Protected Health Information.
See our HIPAA BAA policy here.
HIPAA compliance requires that all Protected Health Information must have an exact backup ready for restoration. These backups must also be located offsite and not on your server for recovery in the event of disaster or server malfunction. At Liquid Web we have two solutions for this, Guardian and DPM Backups.
By having an offsite backup, you are protecting the Protected Health Information and ensuring that no data loss will occur on restoration. Fully restoration is often achieved with continuous backups notating any changes of information on the server.
Read more about our different backup services here.
To be HIPAA compliant, the appropriate methods are necessary for getting rid of hardware. This disposal usually requires that the data be wiped entirely and destroyed in a manner that will not allow for restoration.
Data destruction is typically peer-reviewed and documented to state precisely the method of destruction. This process is to prevent any future use of the hardware from being able to recover sensitive PHI data. Often called Integrity Control it ensures that data is properly altered or destroyed.
All logins and maintenance must be fully documented. Any repairs on the physical servers must be logged, especially those related to the security of the server and who logs in to servers for software maintenance and reviews and applies to Audit Control.
At Liquid Web, all of our work is logged and appropriately recorded with HIPAA compliant standards.
HIPAA compliance is an integral part of your business. While it can be confusing, our technicians at Liquid Web can ensure you that your Protected Health Information is appropriately handled and follows HIPAA compliant standards. While we have only reviewed a portion of the requirements of HIPAA compliance, feel free to reach out to our HIPAA Specialists for more information about how we handle our data centers and servers.
If you would like to speak with a HIPAA Specialist, start here.
IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) is a great way to manage your server remotely. Having IPMI combined with a Liquid Web VPN is similar to having a remote Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) attached to your server. Continue reading “How to Use IPMI”
VPN Tunnel Meaning
VPN or VPN Tunnel, are terms tossed around all over the place. But what are they, really? Encryption? Connectivity? A way to hide? Below, I review the meaning of what a VPN tunnel is, and discuss some of the specifics of this familiar but often misunderstood technology.
IPMI stands for Intelligent Platform Management Interface. It is a set of computer interface specifications for an autonomous computer subsystem that provides management and monitoring capabilities on the host systems CPU, firmware, and operating system. It defines a set of interfaces used by system administrators for out-of-band management of computer systems.
As an example, IPMI provides a way to manage a server that is powered off or unresponsive by using a network connection to the hardware rather than to the operating system or login shell. This means you can bypass the operating system and log in via console to troubleshoot and get your server back up and running if it goes unresponsive for any reason.
Customer Access with IPMI
Remote Desktop Protocol or SSH shell are great for managing your server remotely. But what if you need to do something outside the operating system, like changing network settings or adjusting the BIOS? Those tools cannot help you because they depend on the server’s operating system to function. Wouldn’t it be great to have KVM-like console access to your remote server? With IPMI, you can get browser based access independent of the operating system.
Using a VPN connection to manage your server can have a handful of benefits. Generally the most important benefit to using a VPN is security. When you connect to the Storm VPN your internet traffic to the Liquid Web network will be encrypted.
Your computer will be connecting to your server using a local VPN IP address. If your home IP is blocked you can still use your VPN connection to access the server. It’s important to note that Storm VPN connections cannot be used to access servers outside Liquid Web’s network.
Continue reading “Log In to Storm VPN using ShrewVPN on Windows 8, 8.1 & 10”
Liquid Web offers a free Virtual Private Network (VPN) user with every account. A VPN uses encryption to secure your computer’s connection to the Internet and guarantees that all of the data you’re sending and receiving to the Liquid Web network is secured from any potential prying third parties.
A VPN will secure and encrypt inherently insecure communications (such as HTTP, FTP, SMTP, etc.) to the Liquid Web network, even while using an untrusted public network.
The Professional: Whether working from a permanent home office, or simply getting a few important projects done from home, a VPN will provide secure access to files stored on your dedicated server.
Remote Developers: Do you have a fleet of remote WordPress, Joomla, PHP, Drupal, or other developers that need secure access to your hosting infrastructure? If so, a VPN is not only perfect, but should be required.
The World Traveler: Working on your top secret startup from abroad? Or perhaps uploading photos from your most recent adventure? Prevent snooping by using a VPN.
Once you’re logged into your Liquid Web Manage account, follow the steps below to create a VPN user and get connected! Continue reading “How to Configure Your Liquid Web VPN”
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be extremely useful when administering your servers, which is why Liquid Web offers Cisco VPNs with our firewalls. Logging in to the device can vary among operating systems. Here are some instructions for logging into a VPN from Windows systems:
Continue reading “How To: Log In To a Cisco VPN on Windows”
Starting with Mac OS X 10.6 it is now possible to connect to a Cisco IPSec VPN without having to download any extra software.