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The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued an alert warning that someone is impersonating the OCR and sending fraudulent postcards to healthcare organizations around the country, the National Law Review reports. The postcards are addressed to organizations’ HIPAA Privacy and Security Officers and purport to come from the non-existent “Secretary of Compliance, HIPAA Compliance Division.”
The cards inform the recipient that their organization is due for a mandatory risk assessment, and they contain a URL, a phone number, and an email address for the recipients to set up such an assessment. Notably, the contact information doesn’t belong to the HHS or OCR, and neither does the return address. According to the OCR’s alert, the URL in the postcards leads users to “a non-governmental website marketing consulting services.”
The cards contain other social engineering tactics as well, such as a note outlining the financial penalties faced by organizations that violate HIPAA. The OCR says healthcare organizations should warn their employees to be on the lookout for these cards.
“HIPAA covered entities and business associates should alert their workforce members to this misleading communication,” the OCR stated. “This communication is from a private entity – it is NOT an HHS/OCR communication. Covered entities and business associates can verify that a communication is from OCR by looking for the OCR address or email address on any communication that purports to be from OCR. The addresses for OCR’s HQ and Regional Offices are available on the OCR website , and all OCR email addresses will end in @hhs.gov. If organizations have additional questions or concerns, please send an email to: OCRMail @hhs.gov. Suspected incidents of individuals posing as federal law enforcement should be reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
So who needs email when the phish hook can be in an old-school postcard? New-school security awareness training works against old-school threats, too. It can teach your employees to be skeptical of any urgent notice that induces them to visit an unknown URL, however legitimate it might appear on the surface.
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