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What Are the Requirements for HITRUST Certification?

What is HITRUST CSF certification? Who needs HITRUST certification? What are the HITRUST certification requirements? Find the answers in this article.

HITRUST (Health Information Trust Alliance) compliance serves as a robust shield against cyber threats, ensuring that organizations meet the highest standards of data security and regulatory compliance. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines, loss of reputation, and compromised patient trust. Therefore, being certified is not just an option but a necessity for healthcare providers. This article explores HITRUST certification in detail and what you need to achieve it. 

What Is HITRUST CSF (Common Security Framework)? 

HITRUST CSF (Common Security Framework) is a widely recognized accreditation that validates an organization's adherence to stringent healthcare data protection standards. It serves as a comprehensive roadmap for meeting various compliance requirements, including HIPAA and GDPR. Achieving this certificate demonstrates a high level of information security and trustworthiness.

How to Get HITRUST Certification

Being approved is a rigorous process that requires meticulous planning and execution. The procedure is generally divided into four main phases: readiness, remediation, validated assessment, and quality assurance review. Here's a detailed look at each stage:


The journey begins with a preparation assessment, usually conducted using the HITRUST MyCSF tool. An authorized external assessor will help in defining the scope of the examination, which is crucial for determining the business units, subsidiaries, and controls that will be evaluated. The inspector then reviews all relevant documentation, policies, and procedures against the current requirements. 


Once the gaps are pinpointed, the company will focus on addressing them. Assessors categorize these threats by risk level, providing a roadmap for remediation. The organization then works on implementing solutions, with ongoing support and review from the inspector. The duration of this phase can extend up to six months in the first year, depending on the remedial actions required.

Validated Assessment

This phase involves thorough testing of the firm's security controls by doing on-site risk evaluation, interviews with key personnel, document reviews, and technical tests like penetration testing and vulnerability scans. The organization is then scored as fully compliant, mostly compliant, partially compliant, somewhat compliant, or non-compliant. The reviewer will examine these scores and submit the final assessment for approval.

Quality Assurance Review and Report Generation

Once the validated assessment is submitted, it is reviewed for quality and accuracy. This is the last step before being approved. The procedure can take between four to eight weeks.

Preparing for HITRUST CSF Assessment 

Getting ready for the HITRUST CSF assessment requires comprehensive planning. Here are some of the steps: 

1. Initial Planning

This section outlines how to get started effectively.

  • Scope Definition: Clearly outline the extent of the inspection by identifying the types of data you handle, such as PII, PHI, and financial information. Understand how this data flows within your organization.
  • Team Formation: Assemble a cross-functional team that includes IT, compliance, and business stakeholders. They will be responsible for supervising the review process.

2. Technical and Administrative Controls

There are over 135 CSF controls, all of which are separated into 19 safety domains. Each of the safety domains has a variety of controls, and the examples given below are just a basic representation to give an idea of the type of controls within each domain.


Safety Domain

CSF Controls (Examples)


Access Control

User identification, role-based access


Audit Logging and Monitoring

Audit record generation, log review


Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Business continuity planning, data backup


Configuration Management

Configuration change control, system inventory


Data Protection and Privacy

Data encryption, privacy policy


Education, Training, and Awareness

Security training, awareness programs


Endpoint Protection

Malware protection, patch management


Incident Management

Incident response planning, incident reporting


Information Protection Program

Information classification, data handling procedures


Mobile Device Security

Device encryption, remote wipe


Network Protection

Firewalls, intrusion detection systems


Password Management

Password complexity, password storage


Physical and Environmental Security

Access controls, environmental controls


Portable Media Security

Media Access control, encryption


Risk Management

Risk assessment and mitigation


Third-Party Security

Vendor risk management, contractual protections


Transmission Protection

Transmission encryption, integrity checks


Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability scanning, patch management


Wireless Protection

Wireless access control, encryption

Moreover, understanding the technology and policies in place is also vital for compliance: 

  • Inventory: Create a list of all hardware and software that interact with sensitive data. This includes servers, workstations, and mobile devices.
  • Policy Review: Examine existing policies and procedures to ensure they align with the requirements and update them as necessary.
  • Testing: Conduct technical tests like penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and configuration setting validation to identify weaknesses in your security posture.

3. Risk Assessment

Identifying weaknesses is at the core of any security framework. This section guides you through pinpointing, prioritizing, and preparing for potential security threats.

  • Identify Threats: Use a risk examination framework to pinpoint potential flaws in your data and systems.
  • Prioritize Risks: Rank them based on their potential impact and likelihood of occurrence.
  • Mitigation Plans: Develop plans to mitigate the highest-priority risks. This could involve implementing new controls or enhancing existing ones.

4. Documentation

Proper documentation is not just a compliance requirement but also a best practice. 

  • Evidence Gathering: Collect proof that demonstrates compliance with controls. This could be in the form of logs, screenshots, or policy records.
  • Gap Analysis: Carry out a gap evaluation to pinpoint areas where you fall short of requirements. Also, you should develop a remediation plan for these gaps.

5. Assessment Types

Knowing the kind of assessment suitable for your organization is essential. 

  • Self-Assessment: A preliminary step that helps you gauge your readiness for the formal inspection.
  • Validated Assessment: Conducted by a certified assessor, it involves a comprehensive review of your controls.
  • Certified Assessment: This is the final step, which results in certification if you meet all the criteria.

6. Post-Assessment

The process doesn't end with getting approval. There should be continuous monitoring to maintain compliance with HITRUST standards.

HITRUST Compliance Best Practices

The process of being certified can be complex, but adhering to certain standards and practices simplifies it. The table provides some best practices that firms can follow to streamline the compliance process, making it more manageable and effective.



Shared Responsibility

Understand the shared responsibility model, particularly on public cloud platforms like AWS. The cloud provider handles some safeguards while your organization implements other administrative and technical controls.

Timeline for Tasks and Certification

Define a well-planned timeline for selecting vendors, implementing safety measures, and working with assessors.

Cloud Service Provider Selection

Choose a cloud service provider with established security programs and sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) to safeguard PHI.

Administrative Policies

Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for security operations covering disaster recovery, audit logging, encryption, and employee training.

Implementing Safety Controls

Configure security settings for cloud services using cloud configuration monitoring tools, implementing access control, log aggregation, backup, and encryption.


Perform an internal self-assessment before the external audit, collecting all compliance references and validating how your organization and vendors address security controls.

Partner Selection

Select a firm aligning with HITRUST criteria and evaluate their services, control information, and ongoing support.

Preparing for External Auditors

Gather security evidence and review shared responsibilities between your cloud provider, organization, and third parties. Keep all proof up-to-date for the assessment.

Benefits of Being Certified 

HITRUST CSF serves as a cornerstone for addressing a wide range of regulatory concerns at local, national, and global levels. Here are the key benefits:

Setting Clear Standards

It places a high bar for information management, fosters a culture of accountability, and streamlines the auditing process by providing reports that align with multiple frameworks like NIST, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA. This reduces the complexity and cost associated with adopting specific security objectives and assessment processes. Moreover, its harmonization with various regulations makes it a pinnacle of verified trust.

Scalable Cybersecurity

Unlike other frameworks, it offers a scalable set of controls based on a risk-based approach, allowing companies to adapt to present and future needs. This scalability enhances competitiveness and efficiency in service delivery. Plus, the HITRUST framework is frequently updated to ensure readiness against new regulations and security threats, making it the most dynamically updated security program.

Strengthening Brand Reputation

Possibly the most significant benefit is the enhancement of brand reputation. In a world where cyber threats are rampant, clients are increasingly concerned about security and privacy. HITRUST CSF provides a robust set of controls to mitigate risks, allowing healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care and less on compliance worries. Additionally, it cross-references safety controls to various standards, benefiting organizations with diverse stakeholder reporting needs.

How Much Does HITRUST Certification Cost? 

The cost of being certified varies depending on several factors, such as the size of the organization, the complexity of its IT environment, and the scope of the assessment. Fees can range from $20,000 to $100,000 or more. This cost includes the license, the evaluation itself, and any consulting services that may be required. It's important to note that these are approximate figures, and the actual cost can differ. Additionally, there are ongoing costs for maintaining the certification, which can also vary. It's advisable to consult with certified assessors for a more accurate estimate tailored to your company's specific needs.

How Long Does It Take To Become Certified?

The time required to become approved differs depending on several factors, such as the scope of the assessment and the readiness of the organization's security controls. Generally, the process can take anywhere from 9 to 18 months. It's important to note that it is valid for two years, after which a recertification process is required.

HITRUST vs. HIPAA vs. SOC 2: A Tabular Comparison






Broad, covering various regulations and standards

Focused on healthcare data protection

Concentrated on five trust service principles


Provides a certificate

No formal certification

Provides attestation


Highly prescriptive with specific controls

More flexible, less prescriptive

More flexible, based on principles

Third-Party Assessment

Requires third-party assessment

No mandatory third-party assessment



Generally higher due to the comprehensive scope

Lower, but may require additional frameworks

Varies, but generally lower than HITRUST

Industry Recognition

Widely recognized across industries

Primarily recognized in healthcare

Recognized in tech and cloud services


Strict enforcement with penalties

Enforcement varies, but can be strict

Varies, but generally strict

As can be seen in the table above, HITRUST is more prescriptive, requiring specific controls and a third-party assessment. HIPAA, on the other hand, is focused solely on healthcare data and is less rigid, offering more flexibility in how to achieve compliance. As for HITRUST and SOC 2, both require a third-party assessment but differ in scope and flexibility. 

Eden Data Will Help You Achieve HITRUST Certification 

At Eden Data, we're committed to guiding you through the intricate process of achieving HITRUST CSF certification. Our team of experts – including professionals from former military cybersecurity and Big 4 – specializes in the HITRUST framework, offering a comprehensive suite of services tailored to your organization's unique needs. From initial assessments and gap analysis to remediation strategies, we've got you covered every step of the way.

They will walk you through the entire journey, ensuring you're well-prepared for the assessment and subsequent audit. We don't just help you achieve certification; we also provide ongoing support to maintain it. This ensures you remain compliant with ever-changing regulations and are prepared for any security challenges that may arise.

What sets Eden Data apart?

  • Our client-first approach ensures that we design a solution for your business. We will evaluate vulnerabilities and create bespoke plans to keep your digital assets safe. 
  • At Eden Data, we continually refine our methods to stay current in cybersecurity, ensuring our clients benefit from updated security protocols. 
  • We offer a predictive fixed-cost model with no long-term contract or hidden fees. Simply, you hire a team with skills across technical, compliance, and security stacks for the cost of an employee! 

So, are you ready to level up your security game? Start your journey in three easy steps: 

  • Explore our services here.
  • Review our pricing plans here.
  • Reach out to us to kickstart your cybersecurity voyage here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is HITRUST certification for?

It provides a standardized framework for managing cybersecurity risk and compliance across various industries, with a focus on healthcare data protection.

What is the difference between HITRUST and ISO?

HITRUST is industry-specific and incorporates multiple regulations, while ISO 27001 is a general framework for information security management applicable to all industries.

What does HITRUST stand for?

It stands for ‘Health Information Trust Alliance’ and has been designed to ensure the secure handling and storage of sensitive healthcare data.

How much does HITRUST cost?

The price varies, ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the organization's size, scope, and complexity.

Trust Your HITRUST Journey to Us

Our team is ready to answer any and all questions you may have.