Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A New Use for VIA3? Mobile, MOBILE Worker:

The 35-year-old driver was pulled over for passing a car at 80 mph in a 62 zone on the Autobahn. It was then that the police found his setup.
Der Spiegel reports the car (a Ford Mondeo) has a laptop, a printer, a voltage converter, as well as two cell phones, a navigation device, and a GPS receiver attached to the windshield.
If he converted his cell phone to work as a "Hot Spot" or Wi-Fi hub, he would be able to conduct meetings at 80 MPH.   (We aren't saying it's safe, per se, just productive).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

VIA3 is HIPPA Compliant!

VIA3 is already at use at known healthcare institutions in the United States for adminstration, meetings, and remote medical doctor presence.

VIA3 and HIPAA Compliance

Protecting a patient's privacy has always been of paramount importance in the healthcare industry. The last few years, however, have brought about entirely new privacy and security requirements that require compliance from more than just a patient’s primary care physician or the emergency room staff. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, which stipulates that ALL methods available should be used to ensure a patient's privacy is maintained, affects nearly every organization that collects, stores, or transacts protected health information (PHI).

Health plans, healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses, information systems vendors, universities and even human resource personnel handling employee’s private health information at their employers are all required to meet compliance, and the penalties for non-compliance can be severe (i.e. up to $250K and/or imprisonment up to 10 years for knowing misuse of individually identifiable health information).

The HIPAA Security Rule required complete compliance by April 21, 2005. If you’re one of almost 40 percent of affected organizations (according to the American Hospital Association) still struggling to comply, then re-examining the key privacy and security requirements – and comparing them to how you communicate PHI now – should get you another step closer.

The Key Requirements of HIPAA

HIPAA strongly regulates how PHI may be used, and when and how it may be shared with business partners. HIPAA required the Department of Health and Human Services to establish new rules designed to ensure patient privacy, patient safety and quality of medical care. More specifically, these rules require the establishment of:

1. Standardization of electronic patient health, administrative and financial data (Basically, implementing a national standard – or one format – for PHI documents and codes within the documents, to simplify and improve transaction efficiency)

2. Unique health identifiers for individuals, employers, health plans and health care providers

3. Security standards protecting the confidentiality and integrity of "individually identifiable health information," past, present or future.

While the first two requirements appear fairly easy to understand and implement, the third requires more details. In fact, it’s been divided into two “steps” that give those affected myriad guidelines that build off each other.

1. The Privacy Rule, which required compliance for most organizations by April 14, 2003, requires affected organizations to guard against misuse of personally identifiable health information and limit the sharing of such information, whether or not the information has been in electronic form. The Privacy Rule also grants consumers significant rights regarding the use and disclosure of their health information, including letting them determine who can have access to their information. It also establishes business associate agreements that impact how business associates (such as information technology vendors) can access and disclose PHI.

2. The Security Rule, which required compliance by April 21, 2005, requires affected organizations to implement basic safeguards to protect electronic PHI from unauthorized access, alteration, deletion, and transmission. The security standards define the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic PHI. Required safeguards include application of appropriate policies and procedures, safeguarding physical access to electronic PHI, and ensuring that technical security measures are in place to protect networks, computers and other electronic devices.

The administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic PHI include such significant requirements as:

• Assigning a unique name and/ or number for identifying and tracking user identity
• Implement a mechanism to encrypt and decrypt electronic protected health information
• Implementing hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms that record and examine activity in information systems that contain or use electronic PHI
• Implement policies and procedures to protect electronic PHI from improper alteration or destruction
• Ensuring authentication, access controls and access monitoring in part by requiring proper use of user IDs and passwords to make certain that any user claiming access to a system is who he/she claims to be.

One Step Towards Compliance: Collaborating on HIPAA-Compliant Online Meeting Software

So if you’re not already in full compliance with HIPAA, what can you do? Examine how you are currently communicating PHI and look for alternatives. One alternative that will get you closer to HIPAA compliance is to integrate online meeting technology from an enabling “business associate” such as VIA3 Corporation into your organization. For example, VIA3® Assured Collaboration Service from VIA3 will take care of many of the requirements set forth for managing electronic PHI in HIPAA’s strict security and privacy rules, as the service:

• Completely encrypts ALL data transmitted during an online meeting from sender to receiver—and back again—using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
• Enables full authentication, access controls and access monitoring to ensure that only appropriate individuals will have access to PHI.
• Enables you to store PHI in online workspaces where only those you permit to access them can do so
• Does not store passwords but lets you easily create unique user identities and change passwords as necessary
• Provides both audio and video components, enabling identification of meeting attendees by their voice and face. If a meeting is conducted without personal “identifiers,” hackers can sit in, uninterrupted, on confidential meetings.
• Log who was in an online meeting or alert you to changes in a document or file
• Only allows those with “owner” permissions to change or delete documents or files

VIA3 prides itself on adhering to leading industry standards and forging new ground to secure sensitive communications over the Internet. Built for professionals who require total confidentiality and complete privacy in all their communications, VIA3 Assured Collaboration Service can offer your healthcare-related organization the functionality, support and education you need to communicate PHI securely in a timely and efficient manner.

Friday, January 7, 2011

US Government Resource Planning Group Maximizes Productivity Using VIA3 for Secure Telework, Conferencing, and Collaboration

The US Government resource planning group “Fentress” has revolutionized their work processes using VIA3 secure Video Conferencing, Document Sharing, and Instant Communications.

Keith T. Fentress, President of Fentress Incorporated, knew that the telework revolution was coming to the US Government, and decided to get in front of the technology wave. He was one of the early adopters of secure web based communication long before President Obama signed law the Telework Enhancement Act, which requires federal agencies to develop more robust and secure telework plans. In doing so, he selected VIA3, a software based FIPS 140-2 Web and Video Conferencing solution. According to Fentress, this “remarkable” technology has revolutionized their work, transformed their company, and connected virtual employees spread out over 5 different states.

For starters, Fentress replaced all internal company calls with videoconferencing. This was a bit of a shock at the beginning, and the employees were concerned about the intrusion of videoconferencing into home offices. After using the product for two months, they quickly saw an increase in camaraderie and efficiency. When previously performing only conference calls, they did not have everyone's attention and found people would be on mute most of the time, distracted, or disconnected. Now with videoconferencing, the attention of team members is sustained, and there is a lot more interactivity.

Another heavy use for their daily Telework is document sharing. Fentress employees have described VIA3’s ease of document sharing as “remarkable”. Though they had this feature prior to using the VIA3, sharing is now much more intuitive and accessible. Once a document is open, you are only two mouse clicks away from sharing it with all participants.

Employees now stay connected constantly through secure Instant Messaging – a feature that normally can be compromised but is 100% safe with VIA3’s FIPS 140-2 AES level security. In addition to the new found confidence stemming from the deep security, they have found VIA3 instant messaging to be so quick and easy that it has become a routine part of their workday. The speed of instant messaging and the ability to transfer files – even large files – is a great benefit.

Efficiencies abound for Fentress in VIA3, including the use of presence awareness. Through the VIA3 “launch pad” Fentress can now tell when each other are in the office, in a meeting, or have stepped away from their workplace. This feature has helped them stay in touch better by seeing everyone’s status. They even take advantage of the ability to add comments, like “in client meeting” or “on vacation.”

Other consulting groups and government agencies wanting to fully comply with the Telework Enhancement Act need to turn to FIPS 140-2 secure conferencing solutions for secure video conferencing, online presentations, meetings of any size, document collaboration, and web-based communications. This means either a hardware intensive fixed point solution, or VIA3.

Government agencies or corporations wanting to try VIA3 can visit www.VIA3.com , or email TLockard@VIACK.com for more information.

Government agencies wanting expert resource planning and consultation can visit http://fentress.com/.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice Saving Time and Man-Hours With VIA3

The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has been using VIA3 to process after-hours intakes since the fall of 2009. VIA3 allows DJJ to complete intakes across the Commonwealth of Virginia with the ability to sign documents back and forth. The After-hours Video Intake program is based in the 9th District Court Service Unit and it currently processes delinquent intakes for 23 out of 35 Court Service Units, which covers 10493 localities weeknights, weekends and holidays.

After-hours Video Intake was created as a way to save probation officers from having to go out in the middle of the night to complete an intake after working their normal business hours. During the year 2009, After-hours Video Intake saved probation officers 27,124 roundtrip miles and 1,534.6 hours of processing and travel time to complete an intake. VIA3 provides Court Service Units, which covers multiple jurisdictions, the ability to provide intake coverage to their branch offices when needed. Parole officers are utilizing VIA3 to save travel time when visiting their clients at Juvenile Correctional Centers (JCC) and Halfway Houses. VIA3 also allows family members, who may have transportation difficulties, to continue to have contact with their child, who is committed to a JCC.

On September 7, 2010 The Honorable Bill Bolling, Lieutenant Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Jim Duffey, Secretary of Technology, presented the award winning projects and business solutions of the 30 honorees of the 2010 Governor’s Technology Awards at a special ceremony which convened COVITS (www.covits.org). DJJ received Honorable Mention in the category, “IT as Efficiency Driver” for its Web-based After-hours Video Intake program using VIA3.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Obama Signs Telework Bill (Finally!)

A law signed by President Obama Thursday afternoon means many employees in the D.C. area will have more opportunities to work from home.

The Telework Enhancement Act was spearheaded by area congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-VA), John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Frank Wolf (R-VA). It requires federal agencies to develop more robust telework plans.

For example, every federal agency now must designate a telework managing officer to oversee its telework program.

Telework also now has to be part of an agency's contingency plan for emergency or weather situations. The practice reportedly saved the government millions of dollars during last winter's snowstorms.

Lawmakers also say this could be a way to get a lot of cars off D.C. area roadways, improving the commute for everyone.

Teleworkers wanting to try a FIPS 140-2 Certified Secure Web Conferencing Telework software, can download the free trial at http://www.via3.com/.

Monday, December 6, 2010

FIPS 140-2 Level 1 CERTIFIED Web-Based Video Conferencing Is Here!

A FIPS 140-2, Level 1 CERTIFIED web-based video conferencing tool is available for use with a laptop or a desktop, with a simple webcam, and can be used anywhere in the world? Absolutely!

There are so many web-based conferencing vendors entering the field today, that it is becoming more and more difficult to determine what differentiates one from the rest of the pack.

Security should be at the very core of the selection of any video conferencing system. As with any installation that requires some level of security, you can easily begin your search by choosing from products that have met the strict standards set forth by NIST for FIPS 140-2, Level 1 Certification. If a vendor has not done so, they will talk a great deal about their Compliance to the FIPS standards and attempt to assure you that this is "good enough" for your organization.

Some of the assurances will revolve around security passwords and privileges based on the role(s) of a presenter and/or attendee(s). Others will revolve around the use of 128 Bit SSL encryption. In truth, this alone, does not provide true end-to-end encryption. SSL takes the user’s web browser and creates a secure line of communication to the web conference vendor’s web server, thus using SSL to verify the log-on credentials, only. Once the user has been verified, communication should then be accepted by the vendor’s own software to begin its own transmission of data at 1024 Bit AES Encryption.

The real question then becomes whether or not compliance, versus actual certification, meets the standards of your organization. Additionally, if compliance is acceptable today, are you prepared to switch out your web conferencing vendor, if your organization/client eventually requires a FIPS 140-2, Level 1 CERTIFIED web conferencing tool? Will you have the manpower and the budget to support that effort?

If a web-based conferencing tool is available that has met the FIPS stringent requirements for CERTIFICATION, is highly affordable with unlimited usage per month, feature rich, and is easily installed with a single download.....why not give that product your most serious consideration?

BTW, Some vendors provide end-to-end security only on certain products in their family of products, such as their “on premises” solution. Regardless of how long your current web based conferencing system has been in place, it pays to continue to probe your vendor about the security of the product you actually have installed in your organization!

(Reprinted from http://www.govloop.com/)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Virtual CEO: New Productivity Paradigms In A Technology Driven World

Normally an imposing 6’4”, CEO Brian Hodges is only a mere three inches tall in the business world. This is because of his extensive use of “Web Conferencing”, an online collaboration and communication tool which is gaining popularity world-wide.

Web conferencing is used to conduct live meetings, presentations, or collaboration sessions via the Internet. In a web conference, each participant sits at their own computer and is connected to other attendees online. Typically we are used to conducting meetings face-to-face at a conference room table, where you can meet, present, and even brainstorm on the whiteboard. Actions like voting are as simple as casting a physical vote or raising your hand. File sharing was easy. You printed out copies and passed them around. The face of business has changed in the last decade, with businesses becoming more distributed, global, and mobile. The methods of conducting business had to change at the same time, which gave rise to the wide adoption of Web Conferencing. The same actions that you do around a conference room table can now be done online. This results in equal or improved productivity and efficiency, without the travel time and cost.

For CEO’s like Hodges, this means maximum productivity with maximum freedom. Being “virtually unleashed” changes the game, the locations, and general business strategies and practices.

Web Conferencing in the past was limited to phone calls and email. From there it graduated to VPN access to files. Now it is taking on a whole new life. Brian Hodges uses web conferencing to stay connected in real-time, as well as connected long term on collaboration projects, files, and communications. The specific application he uses is www.via3.com, which is taking hold among mobile CEO’s with frenzied work and travel schedules.

Hodges, for example, hops off of the corporate LAN, and onto local Wi-Fi clouds for “continuity of work”, a phrase popular among government agencies. He is able to appear virtually at any time for meetings, IM, Email, online presentations, desktop sharing, file sharing, and more. When he can’t find a reliable and fast Wi-Fi connection, he pops in his EVDO wireless USB stick and connects from anywhere. This means 100% productivity from anywhere at anytime. Trains, planes, and automobiles are all fair game for productivity, rather than just wasted hours. In the last 48 hours of work, Hodges has conducted multiple interviews from 3 different coffee shops. He presented at the company meeting from a patio table with his lush garden as a backdrop. He participated in a sales strategy session from an airplane seat. He worked through his lunch hour with finance on a budget spreadsheet - while barefoot at a local park. He brainstormed with development on a virtual whiteboard from a cafĂ© – over dinner in a different state. The week before he gave two high-profile product demos from a hotel room with Wi-Fi. He is the ultimate definition of a Virtual CEO, yet hasn’t lost a step in productivity. If anything, his average work day is much more efficient than before.

Even just a couple of years ago, CEO’s were tethered to their office internet connection, and occasionally their home or office internet connection. What is causing this upturn in Virtual CEO’s and Virtual Workers? This has all changed, and changed fast for a number of reasons. There are many drivers right now causing a huge up-tick in the Web Conferencing industry. Pandemics are one example. The Swine flu was a perfect example of why teleworking is a great option versus face to face meetings where physical contact actually promotes physical risk. The economics and travel savings are another driver: Companies are recognizing that it is much more frugal to meet virtually than face-to-face, and the savings are enormous. Improved bandwidth is another driver. Fast pipes are needed for a great user experience when dealing with rich audio and video meetings, and over the last few years we have gone from dial-up as a standard, to having DSL and higher as a standard. Improved web conferencing technologies have definitely driven the industry as well. As the industry developed, so has compression, audio, and video technology. Nowadays we have a much deeper set of Web Conferencing features making the teleworking much more productive, connected, and realistic. Business adoption of Tele-Work is also exploding. Businesses are recognizing the vast need of utilizing teleworkers to provide flexibility in their workforce. Public adoption of Web Conferencing is on the rise. As web conferencing continues to take off, more and more of the general public is being exposed to web conferencing. As that rate of exposure increases, so does their willingness to try or adopt. Price drops for web conferencing services have come into play as well. This is causing a competitive price war in many ways, which is only good for the consumer. There has also been a price drop on needed hardware for web conferencing: More and more laptops come with built-in cameras and microphones. Users with computers that do not provide built in hardware are finding higher quality web cameras at steady or dropping prices.

Hodges, for example, has an older Dell Latitude E6500 with built-in camera and microphone. It was literally just plug-and-play for him to launch into Web Conferencing, and initially he was up and running in under 5 minutes. After getting connected he never looked back to the traditional brick and mortar “stationary” form of business. Brian has even been known to startle people in meetings who notice that the scenery behind him is speeding by. This is thanks to his new habit of popping open his laptop and logging in while driving. He has found that hands-free meetings are a great way to maximize his drive times. “People have gone from worrying that I wouldn’t be connected enough, to now wondering if I am over connected. But this is the new world, and the new way of doing business.”

Brian Hodges can be reached at BHodges@Viack.com.

Tags: Web Conferencing, Web Conference, Video Conferencing, Video Conference, Telework, Telepresence, Remote Worker, Business Communications.