Cyber Security Continues to Infiltrate Various Industries, Including Work Comp

Cindy Ferraino

Sarasota, FL ( – When a claim is initiated in the work comp process, there is personal information that becomes an integral component in ensuring that the claim is handled properly. The personal information is distributed among interested parties such as court officials, lawyers, employers and medical professionals through technological devices. Even with thorough due diligence and treatment from the interested parties involved, personal information can be obtained by sources that should not have access to this important data.

“Anyone can be a target. It is a huge undertaking to protect the integrity of data especially where it has human identifiers such as a social security number, date of birth, medical information,” Judge David Langham said. Langham serves as the deputy Chief Judge of the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims. “Cyber security is a subject that everyone wants to talk about.”

Judge Langham and his colleagues keep a close eye on the marketplace to be informed of any changes to cyber security as well as the rumbling of any potential threat that could harm data collection for workers’ compensation. The office has been collaborating with other judges throughout the United States to increase their awareness of cyber security. “We try to stay ahead and be proactive to maintain proper security protocols,” Judge Langham said.

Since 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been given the task of tracking any potential breach of security both nationally and internationally. It has been reported that more than 1 million people within the United States have fallen victim to a cyber scam. From skimming money from a personal bank account to running up a credit card bill at the local food store, hackers have found a way to invade someone’s personal privacy.

In the case of a work compensation claim, a potential threat can affect the distribution of monetary support for an injured worker. With respect to employers or medical professionals who have access to workers’ compensation data, the DHS encourages these users to be trained on how to protect and maintain critical data. The training is outlined in the DHS-sponsored “Stop.Think.Connect” program.

The program highlights various ways to enhance the security of databases and servers. Some tips from the program include:

  • Change passwords frequently and do not reuse the same passwords.
  • Once the information is received by the third party through email or another electronic transmission, the original documentation should be destroyed or deleted.
  • Wipe clean any digital devices with spyware frequently to get rid of any new viral activity.
  • Use a specific database or encrypted software to receive or transmit electronic data.

Lawyers that are involved in workers’ compensation claims are trying to keep up with ever-changing facets of cyber security.

“Nothing is uniform. It is a big crossword with so many pieces coming into play, “ Jon Gelman said, a New Jersey-based attorney with a primary focus on workers’compensation.

In a seminar for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Gelman discussed how the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a concept how new federal regulations on cyber security will protect everyone involved with workers’ compensation.

“The NIST framework for cyber security is gaining notoriety and is being used by several entities,” Gelman said. For example, the Employment and Health Service Department in Contra Costa County, CA is utilizing the NIST Cyber security framework to provide data protection on their databases.

Despite the current efforts of the federal government to provide cyber security for national and international threats on public and private information, Gelman believes that this is a tip of the iceberg in maintaining the integrity of personal data.

“There is always a potential threat in security. We need to be diligent in protecting personal information,” he said.