Archive for the 'Hosting Industry' Category

PCI DSS 3.0: An Overview of Core Changes

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard 3.0 (PCI DSS) changes became effective on Jan. 1, and many businesses will be working to ensure they are meeting new and updated requirements throughout 2014.

Last month, Layered Tech become one of the first managed hosting service providers to become certified under PCI DSS 3.0 standards. Since we handle the majority of IT controls for many of our clients, it was an easy decision for us to seek certification as early as possible to help them address potential gaps in security and reporting requirements between now and the end of the year.  In 2015, all hosting providers must be in full compliance with the new PCI 3.0 standards.

The PCI DSS Lifecycle

PCI DSS (and its counterpart PA DSS) rules live on a three-year lifecycle, and PCI 3.0 began its life when announced in October 2013. Since the new standards became available in January, most cloud solutions providers (CSPs) will spend 2014 implementing the changes pushed by PCI 3.0.

Old PCI 2.0 rules are grandfathered in for 14 months (through Dec. 2014), but merchants and vendors alike will be working diligently to complete their transitions as soon as possible. Here are some of the most noteworthy changes under the new requirements that you should be aware of:

Requirements in PCI DSS 3.0 Go Beyond Compliance

The major changes in PCI 3.0 focus on raising user awareness of potential security and compliance concerns, beefing up security standards, and making user-controls more flexible. At its core, PCI focuses on securing cardholder data, so the new standards put a lot of emphasis on securing internal infrastructure, managing third-party access and authenticating systems with access to data.

  • Establish a culture of security through education. One of the largest themes of PCI DSS 3.0 is to maintain and drive accountability at every level of client organization by educating employees on security.
  • More rigorous requirements for penetration testing.  Earlier standards required some testing, but 3.0 requires more strenuous testing on both application-layer and network-layer levels, and QSAs will have to put more emphasis on penetration testing. Tests must cover the entire cardholder data environment and use an accepted testing model, like NIST. Unlike most of the PCI DSS 3.0 changes, however, organizations have until July 15, 2015 to fully comply with rules regarding penetration testing. Despite the longer deadline, we expect that penetration testing methodologies will come under increased scrutiny in years to come, so having a rigid testing method in place will be crucial.
  • Organizations must have written security agreements with service providers to define security obligations. PCI 3.0 requires that any business, third-party vendor or organization that accepts card payments is fully aware of their responsibilities in data security. The new standards provide an extra level of guidance to both CSPs and merchants to ensure that responsibility is shared, not outsourced.
  • Enhanced service provider scrutiny. CSPs must now use unique credentials for each of their clients (spurred by a data breach caused by a vendor using a single password across each environment), and must give customers documentation confirming their responsibility for data in their possession and maintaining compliance in the data environment.
  • Merchants and vendors must maintain a complete inventory of the cardholder data environment (CDE). This includes documenting each component of the environment, along with its function and purpose.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that so many of the changes encourage CSPs and third-party vendors to share responsibility for maintaining security. So as more businesses seek help with their IT operations, third-party providers will have a  more prominent role in guaranteeing compliance. At Layered Tech, we manage all the IT controls through internal staff, without third-party support, helping clients limit scope, risk and costs.

The Value of Early Adoption

Since all organizations – vendors, assessors and CSPs alike — must adhere to the new standard by the end of 2014, Layered Tech felt it was important to achieve early certification. As our clients begin to recertify for their own business, we can now safely manage their controls and leave no gaps between their compliance efforts and our own. Layered Tech has always been on the leading edge of PCI DSS certification, and we continue to support the needs of our clients by staying ahead of the curve.

About the Author: Dennis Pickard holds CIA & CISA certifications and is the IT Audit Lead in the Compliance and Security Group of Layered Tech. He has more than 20 years of experience in compliance and technology audits, primarily in the Financial Services industry. Throughout his professional career, he has directed and performed numerous HIPAA security and privacy analysis activities.

 

6 Healthcare Incubators That Are Growing the Future of Business

We all know that small businesses are the engine of America’s economy. Luckily, there are groups out there that have made it their mission to help small businesses and startups survive long enough to change the world: business incubators. By providing funding, mentorship and office space to startup companies, incubators give businesses the time and resources to refine their technologies and services while finding investors and customers.

While incubators help turn bright ideas into real consumer products and services, they also create new opportunities for established businesses. As startups are mentored and helped through their early phases, they become invaluable investment and partnership opportunities for other service companies.

Below, we’ll introduce you to some of the leading incubators in the healthcare industry, one of our economy’s fastest growing sectors. These incubators have a proven track record in helping innovative young companies bring new ideas and services to consumers and businesses.

The Top-Six Healthcare Incubators and Accellerators

Rock Health Rock Health invites early stage companies to work within the incubator and receive funding and mentorship from a variety of companies and health organizations. Rock Health notes that 18% of our economy is healthcare-based, but it’s one of the last industries to receive a tech makeover.  With more than 50 active startups in its portfolio, Rock Health is one of the most experienced healthcare incubators, especially for startups that focus on providing web services, mobile applications and SaaS solutions for healthcare providers and companies.

Health Wildcatters – Health Wildcatters is a mentorship-driven healthcare seed accelerator in Dallas; slightly different than an incubator. Though similar to incubators in their goals, accelerators typically acquire a small amount of equity in a startup, then work quickly to help a company achieve a short-term goal like raising money or launching a product. While incubators house companies for months or years, accelerators like Health Wildcatters work in weeks. Health Wildcatters focuses mainly on early-stage healthcare technology startups, including IT, SaaS, digital health and mobile health companies. Companies receive an initial seed investment and a 12-week program in which Health Wildcatters works quickly to help the company build value and refine its product. The name “wildcatter” hearkens back to independent oil entrepreneurs who were willing to take risks in where they drilled. Health Wildcatters takes the same approach to finding companies. This entrepreneurial approach allows it to help more startups reach their goals.

StartUp Health –Chaired by TimeWarner CEO Jerry Levin, this incubator aims to fund 1,000 healthcare companies within the next decade to help transform the face of the healthcare industry. StartUp Health works to build sustainable growth in its companies over a three-year period. During the incubation period, StartUp Health matches companies with a network of more than 10,000 health professionals and business people focused on improving digital health and wellness.

The Iron YardWith its first location in Asheville, NC, the Iron Yard is growing a network of incubators focused on growing new areas of technology like digital health, green tech and emerging technologies. Its digital health accelerator, located in Spartanburg, SC, is working to turn one of the nation’s oldest railroad junctions into a hub for digital health innovation. The Iron Yard offers startups $20,000 in seed capital and three months of mentorship and workshops from experts in design, development and financing. The Iron Yard also offers training in web development and programming to place graduates with the startup companies it supports.

Blueprint HealthBlueprint Health, located in New York City, is one of the largest incubators in any niche and offers an expansive network of healthcare mentors to assist healthcare entrepreneurs launch new ventures. Blueprint Health focuses on companies developing tech projects directly for hospitals, physicians and health plans rather than consumer-facing applications, which means deeper access to established customers. In 2013, Blueprint Health focused its efforts on mature startups companies. While many incubators assist early-stage companies, more than half of Blueprint’s mentees already had paying customers. With more than 12,000 sq. ft. of space and two classes per year, Blueprint Health is able to help more than 100 healthcare companies each year.

Healthbox Healthbox offers accelerator programs in Boston, Chicago, Tampa, London, Nashville and Salt Lake City that provide  digital health entrepreneurs with funding and access to a global network of healthcare investors and providers. Healthbox launched its first accelerator program in Chicago in 2012 and quickly grew to other states and the UK. It recently expanded its business programs with $7 million in funding and started a program that helps hospitals create their own in-house Healthbox accelerator programs that, in turn, help companies gain traction within their own medical communities. So far, Healthbox has invested in 56 active startups, supported by a network of more than 350 expert mentors.

It Doesn’t End at the Incubator

Incubators do an incredible job of supporting young companies with startup capital, office space, design and marketing help and more. But, there are some services that most incubators just aren’t able to provide, especially to startups that handle sensitive information like personal health information and payment information. Securing that data and complying with the regulations that protect sensitive information can be a difficult process for a startup to undertake alone.

Since startups have to make every dollar stretch as far as they can, hiring IT staff and maintaining compliant data infrastructure can be out of reach. Luckily, startups can find partners outside of their incubator space that can help them meet data security and compliance standards. Layered Tech is committed to helping startups do just that. With a three-year commitment through the Layered Tech Startup Program, qualified businesses can receive the first six months of cloud hosting and compliance management free and the subsequent six months at a 50-percent discount. Layered Tech is proud to partner with startups to drive innovation in the healthcare and payments industries, and as a leader in secure cloud and compliant hosting solutions, understands the importance of helping startups focus on growing their business, and securing their data.

About the Author: As Director of Partner Sales for Layered Tech, Steve Chu (@stevendkchu) brings over 9 years of experience to the Payment and PCI Compliant Hosting industry.  His background prior to Layered Tech was with HMS/Micros Systems, which provides a point-of-sale solution for the hospitality industry, and also with global IT consulting firm, Sogeti Capgemini.

How to Ensure a Smooth Data Center Migration

We know that the word “migration” is enough to make most IT professionals lose sleep, and for good reason. Moving production data and applications to a new data center can be an undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Properly managing a data  and application migration begins with a plan and understanding the needs of your business.

There are two types of data migrations: forced migrations and planned migrations. Obviously, a planned data migration offers more opportunity to strategize your move around hardware lifecycles, development timelines and the needs of your business. Forced, emergency migrations are certainly not as easy, but they can be managed easily if you and your IT staff and resources take the proper steps beforehand to ensure a smooth transition. Here are a few tips to truly prepare for data migration.

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Health Wildcatters – As the Seed Grows

So, you’re an entrepreneur with a bright idea around technology in the healthcare industry. You have the necessary technical and business knowledge and you’ve put together a small, dedicated team. You’ve planted your technology seed and you’re bootstrapping your business.

Everything at this point is relying on you. Whether you succeed or fail depends, arguably, on whom you know, what your cash flow situation is, the guidance available to you, having a competitive advantage, and even having a workplace environment conducive to development of your idea. Without these things, your technology seed may never take root.

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Capturing Conversions: Why Milliseconds Matter to the Bottom Line

There’s an old saying we all deal with every day: time is money. On the Internet, money can be measured pretty well by one important metric: page load time. Research has shown consistently that user experience is important and functionality is useful, but nothing will cause a customer to jump ship quicker than a slow website.

In fact, Microsoft claims that 250 milliseconds can be the difference between a return customer and an abandoned checkout cart.

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Migration: One of the Most Overlooked Service Capabilities of a Cloud Provider

There has been a great deal of innovation around automated provisioning, scaling and decommissioning of cloud services in the past couple of years. The primary driver of this innovation is the ability to easily consume cloud services and pay only for the services that are being used. Creating cloud servers and appliances has become a remedial task to the end user with point-and-click provisioning being performed via slick web portals, while modern day cloud orchestration systems do the heavy lifting on the backend provisioning of the services that were ordered.

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Why Education and Certification Matters for Tech Service Providers

It seems obvious that better trained employees will have a positive impact in any business. Yet, a recent survey by Accenture found that 35% of executives say they have not invested enough in training to develop the skills they need, and 64% anticipate loss of revenue due to this skill gap

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10 Reasons Why Migrating to the Cloud Makes Sense

I had the opportunity to attend and speak at recent KANAConnect events in the US and Europe. I was surprised and delighted at the breadth of discussion and focus placed on cloud computing and the forward-thinking direction of many of the attendees.

One thing that was quite clear and different from what I’d experienced at past KANA events was the overall mindset towards the cloud playing a larger role in the future growth plans of the majority of the companies in attendance.

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Healthcare Startups, HIPAA Compliance, and Texas Hold ‘Em

Your healthcare startup has just secured its second or third round of funding as you prepare to move your apps out of beta testing and into the marketplace. It’s a heady time; your team is filled with anticipation over the impact your solutions could potentially have on the lives of millions. That is, if you last long enough to overcome all the pitfalls and obstacles that startups are subject to. You need to keep one eye on your burn rate and make sure that you’re prioritizing every dollar spent.

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Startups That Fly – Layered Tech’s Role

As Director of Compliance and Security services at Layered Tech since 2008, I have seen our Compliant Services business grow significantly during that time. With that growth, there has been a noticeable phenomenon related to our startup clients who have reached an attractiveness level high enough to become acquisition targets.

We are in a unique position to see this happen from start to finish. It is a behind-the-scenes supporting role where our economy of scale and simplified audit-service goals lend upward momentum. I have seen this happen several times, including with Layered Tech itself. It is a topic that deserves some background, so let me lay out an example of what I mean.

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