Month: June 2017

 

Study sheds new light on extent of lethal rat lungworm’s geographic range in Florida

University of Florida researchers have found rat lungworm, a parasitic nematode that can cause meningitis in humans and animals, in five Florida counties.

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Yoga – practice with caution for greater benefits and less harm say researchers

According to new research from researchers at the University of Sydney, Yoga practice could do more harm than good in some participants. Yoga is an ancient Indian form of spiritual practice that involves a series of body postures, deep breathing techniques and balance of the mind and body. The study was published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies

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The Office of the National Coordinator Releases Guidance on Recent International Ransomware Campaign

With the news of the newest international ransomware campaign that is currently affecting some organizations within the Health Care sector, it is important to not only educate staff on necessary precautions, but also be aware of steps to take in the instance you are infected by a ransomware attack.

The following information was distributed  today by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).  Please take a moment to review the information and prepare your organization in the event that an attack occurs.

Be sure to review our preparedness recommendations and contact us with any questions.

Health and Human Services/Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response Critical Infrastructure Protection Program

If you are the victim of a ransomware attack

If your organization is the victim of a ransomware attack, HHS recommends the following steps:

  1. Please contact your FBI Field Office Cyber Task Force or US Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force immediately to report a ransomware event and request assistance. These professionals work with state and local law enforcement and other federal and international partners to pursue cyber criminals globally and to assist victims of cyber-crime.
  2. Please report cyber incidents to the US-CERT and FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  3. **NEW**If your facility experiences a suspected cyberattack affecting medical devices, you may contact FDA’s 24/7 emergency line at 1-866-300-4374. Reports of impact on multiple devices should be aggregated on a system/facility level.
  4. For further analysis and healthcare-specific indicator sharing, please also share these indicators with HHS’ Healthcare Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (HCCIC) at HCCIC@hhs.gov

Mitigating against this threat

  • Educate users on common phishing tactics to entice users to open malicious attachments or to click links to malicious sites.
  • Patch vulnerable systems with the latest Microsoft security patches available here.
  • Verify perimeter tools are blocking Tor .Onion sites
  • Use a reputable anti-virus (AV) product whose definitions are up-to-date to scan all devices in your environment in order to determine if any of them have malware on them that has not yet been identified. Many AV products will automatically clean up infections or potential infections when they are identified.
  • Monitor US-CERT for the latest updates from the U.S. government. See below for current reporting.
  • Utilize HPH Sector ISAC and ISAO resources. See below for further information.

US-CERT Resources

Multiple Petya Ransomware Infections Reported

06/27/2017 12:56 PM EDT

Original release date: June 27, 2017 US-CERT has received multiple reports of Petya ransomware infections occurring in networks in many countries around the world. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access to the infected machine until a ransom is paid to unlock it. Individuals and organizations are discouraged from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee that access will be restored. Using unpatched and unsupported software may increase the risk of proliferation of cybersecurity threats, such as ransomware.

Petya ransomware encrypts the master boot records of infected Windows computers, making affected machines unusable. Open-source reports indicate that the ransomware exploits vulnerabilities in Server Message Block (SMB). US-CERT encourages users and administrators to review the US-CERT article on the Microsoft SMBv1 Vulnerability and the Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010. For general advice on how to best protect against ransomware infections, review US-CERT Alert TA16-091A. Please report any ransomware incidents to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Sector ISAO and ISAC resources

National Health Information-Sharing and Analysis Center has shared the following TLP-White Message and will continue to share information at nhisac.org.

HITRUST has shared the following Threat Bulletin for distribution.

ONC and OCR resources

  • ONC provides many helpful resources about Health IT Security to include cybersecurity guidance materials and training at here and here.
  • OCR provides cybersecurity guidance materials including a cybersecurity checklist, ransomware guidance and cyber awareness newsletters at here.

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Opioid Crisis Initiating New State Gift Ban Laws

opioid

The Maine legislature passed with broad bipartisan approval L.D. 911, An Act to Prohibit Certain Gifts to Health Care Practitioners. The legislation prohibits gifts to practitioners who are licensed to prescribe and administer drugs by manufacturers, wholesalers, or agents of manufacturers or wholesalers of prescription drugs.

What’s Excluded?

  • Free samples of prescription drugs for patients
  • Items less than $50 over a calendar year
  • Payments to sponsors of educational programs
  • Honoraria for educational conferences
  • Compensation for research
  • Publications or educational materials
  • Salaries to employees

At the Heart of the Bill is the State’s Opioid Crisis

While similar in substance to what already exists in Massachusetts, Vermont, and other states as a law designed to curtail conflicts of interest in physician prescribing practices, the purported impetus here is the state’s opioid crisis. Representative Scott Hamann, the sponsor for the bill, said that the goal is to ensure doctors do not have conflicts of interest when prescribing drugs, especially opioids. According to Hamann’s testimony before the legislature, “People are dying, and the addiction often starts in the doctor’s offices.” The bill intends to curb any influence on the prescribing of opioids given the perspective that there is a correlation between payments and prescribing behavior. Maine has seen a forty percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the last year, and spending on physicians nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015.

The “gift ban” law is now awaiting the Maine Governor’s signature. It will be interesting to see if other states impacted heavily by heroin and opioid abuse will follow suit with increased surveillance or banning of industry gifts to physicians.

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UBC expert focuses on connection between parental sanity and infant sleep

Your child’s sleep problems may be making you depressed and unsure of your parenting skills, says a new paper by UBC sleep expert and nursing professor Wendy Hall.

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People with autism make more consistent choices than neurotypical population

People with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) often show a reduced sensitivity to contextual information in perceptual tasks, but new research suggests that this reduced sensitivity may actually lead to more consistent choices in high-level decision-making tasks.

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Researchers identify new wound healing properties of ficin

The project is headed by Senior Research Associate of the Microorganism Genetics Lab Ayrat Kayumov and funded by Russian Science Foundation and Project 5-100. The results have been published in Scientific Reports.

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Legal cannabis laws influence consumption patterns among adolescents, study finds

A new study by researchers at Dartmouth has found that adolescents living in medical marijuana states with a plethora of dispensaries are more likely to have tried new methods of cannabis use, such as edibles and vaping, at a younger age than those living in states with fewer dispensaries.

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Mouse study uncovers key molecular player in heart enlargement

The heart is a dynamic muscle that grows and shrinks in response to stressors such as exercise and disease. The secret to its malleability lies in individual cells, which get bigger or smaller depending on the heart’s needs.

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Study finds link between gene mutation and retinitis pigmentosa in U.S. Hispanic families

Thirty-six percent of Hispanic families in the U.S. with a common form of retinitis pigmentosa got the disease because they carry a mutation of the arrestin-1 gene, according to a new study from researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health.

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