|By Gerry Grealish||
|April 15, 2013 08:00 AM EDT||
The convenience, efficiency and cost benefits cloud computing offers organizations has made moving healthcare data and records to the cloud make sense for hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. Security and data breaches are a concern for any industry utilizing the cloud, but healthcare unfortunately seems to be particularly vulnerable to attacks. The Washington Post recently reported that The Department of Homeland Security is fearful that the health industry is "inviting" an attack with its out-of-date policies and lack of oversight.
A recent WIRED article discussed the current state of healthcare information in the cloud, including specifics on the vulnerabilities facing healthcare providers using cloud applications and why consumers should be concerned about their healthcare data being on the cloud.
The Value of Healthcare Data
According to the article, hackers are particularly interested in healthcare information because of its comparatively substantial dollar value. An individual's medical identity can be worth as much as $50, a significant amount considering a social security number is worth just $1. With personal medical information in hand, thieves are able to commit medical identity theft by using someone else's personal information to receive goods or services, potentially wreaking havoc on that person's records and creating liabilities for service providers and increasing costs for everyone.
This security issue is not just a concern for healthcare-specific applications. Some of today's popular cloud applications, including Box and Dropbox, are being used to store healthcare data and they have not been able to remain secure from cyber-attack. A large healthcare system being hacked would result in costly consequences for consumers and their medical providers. But despite the apparent risks, cloud usage for health records is expected to grow quickly. One reason is that electronic medical records are a key part of the Affordable Care Act (being implemented in 2014).
Does Healthcare Data Belong on the Cloud?
The article seems to assert that putting data on the cloud means that it is inevitable that healthcare providers and therefore individual consumers are going experience a breach or attack. The facts cited are certainly disturbing and medical identity theft presents unique and costly consequences to everyone involved. No organization wants to experience a data breach, especially of such potentially sensitive information, and according to the article, there doesn't seem to be any real solutions in sight.
But some forward-thinking healthcare organizations are realizing that the online vulnerabilities of the healthcare field do not necessitate a slowing adoption of the cloud. These healthcare companies, providers, hospitals, doctors and others are protecting sensitive healthcare data by using Cloud Encryption Gateways to fully secure sensitive information before it leaves their control and goes to the cloud for processing and storage. These gateways are designed to preserve the end-user's experience with the cloud application while also providing security of data going to the cloud.
Our solution, the PerspecSys Cloud Protection Gateway, was built to secure any organization's sensitive data, including consumer healthcare data, before it is sent to the cloud. Any cloud application a healthcare organization needs to use to store and share patient information is therefore secure from attacks or breaches (because the sensitive data is no longer stored or processed in the cloud). The solution is installed inside the organization itself and allows full data control to stay within its walls. With the sensitivities and amount of security needed in the healthcare field, the solution is ideal for any organization moving patient data to the cloud.
While the WIRED article rightly points out the real problems many healthcare organizations and their patients face with putting data on the cloud, it stops short in its understanding of all solutions available. Any organization concerned about putting highly sensitive data on the cloud should learn more about the PerspecSys Cloud Protection Gateway and find out how their data can be secured.
PerspecSys Inc. is a leading provider of cloud data security and SaaS security solutions that remove the technical, legal and financial risks of placing sensitive company data in the cloud. PerspecSys accomplishes this for many large, heavily regulated companies by never allowing sensitive data to leave a customer's network, while maintaining the functionality of cloud applications. Based in Toronto, PerspecSys Inc. is a privately held company backed by investors that include Intel Capital and GrowthWorks.
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