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For HIPAA Compliance, Avocent Offers A KVM Platform

Broadcast & Post Production Environments Featured Article

September 08, 2011

For HIPAA Compliance, Avocent Offers A KVM Platform

By David Sims
TMCnet Contributing Editor


If you need to choose a KVM over IP system to help with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 compliance issues, one option might be Avocent’s (News - Alert) offering.

Avocent, a division of Emerson (News - Alert) Network Power, is a provider of open, secure, modular solutions that enable customers to simply manage IT complexity. Among the many industries that Avocent targets are high definition digital, Pro-AV and broadcast and post production environments.

Security, of course, is the top priority no matter which system you pick. Not only does it have to protect you against threats from the outside, but it also needs to be able to prevent unauthorized access by internal users. Avocent officials remind you that there’s another whole area to protect against: Simple human error.

Avocent officials say its KVM platform – “featuring virtual media” –  is designed to help you with HIPAA regulations.

“The DS Series KVM over IP switching systems provide field-proven security features and benefits,” such as standards-based authentication, multiple encryption modes for remote sessions, exit macros, remote boot with virtual media and comprehensive event-reporting capabilities, Avocent explains in a white paper.

Your security manager will particularly like the reporting capabilities, as it’ll be a big help when it comes to audit the end-to-end IT environment. Another consideration: Avocent officials say they’re the only KVM provider with hub and spoke failover architecture, which is a fairly strong selling point.

Maybe you aren’t sold on the whole concept of needing a layered security model in the first place. Fair enough. However, Avocent officials list some reasons why it’s pretty crucial for HIPAA compliance.

“It helps prevent critical health care assets from being put at risk because of the failure of any single security measure, it creates additional protection from destruction, loss, unauthorized alteration or other misuse, and it creates synergies between layers that can thwart exploits,” officials explain in the white paper.

In other words, it can blacklist the IP address of someone who makes too many password guesses, and send the offending IP address to a network-level defense.

There are other major considerations for choosing a KVM system:

-          Failover: If a KVM system can be disrupted by a single point-of-failure, it may expose the business to unacceptable risk. A KVM system should offer mirrored, redundant authentication capabilities with fully automatic failover functionality.

-          Auditing: Obviously these mechanisms are critical for the maintenance of KVM security, and the logs should provide appropriate native reporting, or be exportable into popular reporting applications. Your security manager should be monitoring failed authentications and attempts to gain access beyond authorized permissions, among other issues, and the system makes it easy to do so as well as to perform comprehensive audits.

-          Virtual media support: As Avocent officials say, this is “simulated media that performs the same function of a mass storage device without being physically connected.” Or, in other words, additional remote capabilities, which can give the administrator one more reason to stay out of the data center in compliance with HIPAA rules about inappropriate access to protected data.

This April, TMCnet reported  that Avocent has also made a dent in the broadcast and post production environment as its products are now found in 90 percent of major broadcasting companies, including ABC, CBS and Turner Broadcasting (News - Alert) System, since the division’s inception in 2000.


David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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