HITRUST CSF validation requirements: Here’s what you need to know 

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Looking to obtain HITRUST CSF Validation with Certification? While there are many moving parts to achieving this goal, it is a worthwhile endeavor in the end for your business. There is much to be gained in being HITRUST Validated. 

Who should consider the HITRUST Validation process?

HITRUST CSF (HITRUST Common Security Framework) Validation is advantageous for a diverse range of sectors and is no longer only relevant to the healthcare industry. HITRUST CSF can be implemented by a variety of organization types and is now a mainstay in the general information security industry.

While it is not officially mandated by law for companies or industries to achieve HITRUST CSF certification, health insurance payers in the last ten (10) years have made business associate compliance with HITRUST the standard.

HITRUST requirements can benefit all organizations. Once you achieve certification, your company will have established the gold standard for data and systems security.

Understanding HITRUST

Before you get HITRUST certified, it’s important to first become familiar with one of the most important security standards in any industry: the HITRUST CSF. (You’ll notice this term surfacing a fair bit.)

This security framework, originally developed with protected health information and the healthcare industry as its main focus manages security risks in an objective and measurable manner through validated assessments. Since its origination, HITRUST created a new standard, has expanded considerably, and now includes various types of sensitive data across many industries to manage information risk. 

apps on iphone that require personally identifiable information

The recent version of the HITRUST requirements harmonizes multiple regulations and frameworks, including HIPAA, NIST, ISO, and more. HITRUST CSF can be viewed as one of the highest-developed, risk-based compliance programs out there. With it, organizations can demonstrate compliance and manage countless security challenges through the use of security and privacy controls.  

The HITRUST CSF Validation allows organizations of all sizes to demonstrate their systems meet the HITRUST CSF’s standards. 

How can my organization obtain HITRUST Certification Requirements?

The HITRUST certification process will require an independent assessment conducted by none other than approved HITRUST assessors. Depending on the size and scale of your organization, completing this process can oftentimes take between six (6) to twelve (12) months. 

The below checklist of the HITRUST certification requirements will help you prepare for your assessment and visualize what specifically is involved in the entire process. 

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If these steps appear overly involved, we’re here to make it easier on you. Let’s walk through your assessment process together.


Download this for free on the HITRUST website and you’ll be on your way to the next step!

2. Choose a Readiness Assessment option

Through the HITRUST MyCSF platform, select from one of the following options: a HITRUST Risk-based 2-year Readiness Assessment (r2), a HITRUST Implemented 1-Year Readiness Assessment (i1), or a HITRUST Essentials 1-year (e1) Readiness Assessment.

This step allows your company to conduct a self-assessment under the HITRUST CSF Assurance Program, teaching you which controls and requirements need implementation going forward.

You will want to decide on which level based on the maturity of your organization and the current criticality of data security. More on this later. 

Although your company could conduct its own self-assessment under the HITRUST CSF Assurance Program, it’s recommended you work with an approved assessor firm, like Thoropass, to perform this assessment. A third-party audit will help to shine a light on implementation requirements.  

customer support manager at thoropass

3. Validated assessment and remediation

The HITRUST Alliance vetted and approved External Assessor firm you choose will highlight gaps in your security and provide recommendations to fix your processes and controls according to the assessment level you have chosen. As you get closer to mitigating these gaps in coordination with close reviews from the external assessor, you will move directly into HITRUST CSF validation.

4. HITRUST CSF Validation

If you pass the final review by the HITRUST Assurance Team, and, if you score high enough within the validation, you will then be issued your letter of certification. Your report will only be ‘certified’ if it meets certain scoring criteria. 

End-to-end support for HITRUST CSF Validation

While you can certainly go it alone, it’s recommended you work with a HITRUST-approved External Assessor to save you time and maximize efficiency now and for future assessments. 

Is HITRUST right for your business?
Is HITRUST right for you?
Take this brief quiz to find out which HITRUST assessment is right for your business.

What are the HITRUST Validated Assessment certification options? 

The three most common HITRUST assessment options are the e1, i1, and r2. Appraising yourself with each assessment type will allow you to decide which suits your organization best.

Sometimes, it’s just about timing more than anything else. Depending on when your compliance journey begins, you may feel strongly about one option over the other. 

Below you will find each HITRUST assessment tier: 

1. HITRUST Essentials, 1-Year (e1) Validated Assessment + Certification

The e1 Validated Assessment focuses on the most important cybersecurity controls and is a great starting point for organizations in their infancy of implementing security controls. Its purpose is to demonstrate that critical cybersecurity hygiene is in effect. This assessment level requires less overall effort to complete and has the lowest level of security assurance out of the three tiers. 

This entry-level assessment is efficient and covers only the basics of Foundational Cybersecurity Practices, geared towards lower-risk organizations. The Readiness Assessment is its sole supporting assessment.

Unique Attributes of the HITRUST e1 Assessment:

  • FOUNDATIONAL CYBERSECURITY: Uses HITRUST-recommended essential controls.
  • REDUCES EFFORT: Leverages only 44 controls and reduces the performance time of the assessment.
  • MAXIMIZES EFFICIENCY: Work can be applied in other HITRUST Assessments (should they be pursued.)
  • MOVES AT THE SPEED OF BUSINESS: The fastest and most streamlined certification assessments.

2. HITRUST Implemented, 1-Year (i1) Validated Assessment + Certification 

The i1 Validated Assessment ensures that an organization is exercising Leading Security Practices through the use of specified controls. It imparts reliable assurances against cyber threats, helping to establish a sturdy and broad information security program. A Readiness Assessment, as well as a Rapid Recertification Assessment, are both available at this tier. 

This assessment provides a moderate level of security assurance in comparison to the previous level but is less meticulous than the next level. 

Unique Attributes of the HITRUST i1 Assessment:

  • LEADING SECURITY PRACTICES: Uses a complete cybersecurity program based on ongoing analysis of threat intelligence data.
  • HIGHER RELIABILITY: Yields stronger assurances than comparable assessments of similar time and effort levels.
  • STREAMLINES ASSESSMENT PROCESS: Focuses on practically and efficiently assessing information security and operational maturity.
  • RAPID RECERTIFICATION: A simplified recertification process.

3. HITRUST Risk-Based, 2-Year (r2) Validated Assessment + Certification 

The r2 Validated Assessment conducts the most in-depth review and is the highest standard for information protection assurances. Offering an adaptable, risk-based control selection, it meets the demands of organizations that deal with sensitive information, or who may be facing regulatory requirements challenges. 

It utilizes an Expanded Practices approach to cybersecurity and compliance evaluation, providing the highest level of security assurance for organizations with the greatest potential for risk. A Readiness Assessment, as well as Interim and Bridge Assessments, are both available at this level. 

A NIST Cybersecurity Framework Report is also issued with the r2 Validated Assessment Report, detailing your organization’s compliance with their controls included in the HITRUST CSF. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework Report is not available at any other assessment level.

Unique Attributes of the HITRUST r2 Assessment:

  • EXPANDED PRACTICES RELIABILITY: Delivers deep cybersecurity that harmonizes each authoritative source via the HITRUST CSF control library into one central control repository.
  • RISK-BASED APPROACH: Selects prescriptive controls that cover specific risk and compliance factors an organization requires.
  • ADDS EFFICIENCY: Leverages work from previous assessments.
  • HIGHEST LEVEL OF ASSURANCE: Organizations will meet the most demanding information risk requirements.

How much will validation cost my organization?

The range of cost for HITRUST CSF Validation is fairly wide and can be a significant investment with costs ranging from $36,000 – $200,000, depending tier level, scope, number of regulatory factors, and External Assessor you choose to perform the validated assessment. A Readiness Assessment that excludes an External Assessor will reduce your fees; however, the level of security assurance will also be reduced.  

Given its quality and complexity, the HITRUST CSF-validated assessment and certification can get quite expensive. So if you’re still thinking about whether your organization can make the deep dive, but haven’t decided yet, there’s good news. Any organization, at any time, can download the HITRUST CSF for free, which can still help you fulfill many essential security goals. This way, you can weigh your budget accordingly and go from there.

money on laptop

Be aware, the HITRUST CSF version provided for review will help, but these requirements may or may not apply and how they are implemented is driven by the illustrative procedures (provided from the control set generated through MyCSF.)

Why is it important to be HITRUST CSF Validated? 

HITRUST compliance provides assurance of information security programs on an efficacy and maturity basis, thus solving an industry-wide challenge. Seeking out formalized certification allows an organization to be evaluated on the maturity of its security practices. 

Though there are countless information security frameworks and assessments available, HITRUST CSF Validation with Certification is specifically regarded as the multi-industry gold standard. Safeguarding your organization from a data breach or security incident ensures your digital information and technology are always protected. A critical step towards longevity is preventing your company from becoming vulnerable.

HITRUST keeps on top of any regulation changes as they unfold, always ensuring that the highest standard of data security is being achieved. By staying up to date, HITRUST protects an organization’s sensitive information and reduces its risk by assisting with both internal and external risk management.  

Committing to the HITRUST CSF requirements also demonstrates that an organization believes strongly in digital security and privacy. This will always build confidence within the organization. The HITRUST CSF simplifies and streamlines compliance for your business in the short and long terms, giving you greater visibility into your future potential.

With the evolution of technology with each passing year, getting compliant via the HITRUST CSF is becoming even more essential. An enhanced security posture will keep what’s most important out of harm’s way. HITRUST CSF Validation will ensure your organization is both present and forward-thinking when it comes to complete protection. 

If you feel the path to official HITRUST certification is right for your business, we can help guide you toward success. Talk to an expert today.     

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