Multiple health organizations will participate in CyberRX, a cyber attack exercise that industry group HITRUST will conduct in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, and inform the industry about results.

The first of up to three two-day tests will be in March with 12 participating organizations: insurers Healthcare Service Corp., Highmark, Humana, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint; pharmacy benefit management firms Express Scripts and CVS Caremark (including the CVS drug store unit); Children’s Medical Center of Dallas; and three other anonymous providers including a large group practice and three hospitals.

A steering committee is creating attack scenarios and the attacks--conducted by a third party--will be real but harmless, says Daniel Nutkis, CEO at HITRUST. Once organization are attacked and recognize it, the initiative will assess how they respond, such as knowing where to go for assistance or answers when suspicions are raised because of probing or other threat activity. The organizations will know the month but not the date or time of an attack.

HITRUST’s Cyber Threat Intelligence and Incident Coordination Center, which includes a repository of threat data and researchers who disseminate information on new threats, also will be part of the test by alerting other participants to attacks that organizations have reported. So, the test also will assess the effectiveness of the center.

HHS’ role is still being determined, but the agency wants to learn how they can better help organizations identify and respond to cyber attacks. The department also has access to other sources of threat intelligence.

HITRUST is looking for a larger group of up to 50 organizations to participate in a summer 2014 test and possibly another test in the fall. For more information on the Summer CyberRX exercise, click here.

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