I agree that "many recognize the potential strategic benefits of the connected care evolution," and "all of these efforts will enable companies to harness data from disparate sources into a common, consumable, cloud-enabled platform."
We know that the healthcare industry has become an increasingly valuable target for cyber thieves and, in some cases, a much easier target to attack due to their often less than adequate investment in cyber security. I think that healthcare is unique in that there are a greater number of people who come in contact with sensitive information during the course of normal business operations than in other industries. Those can include office staff, nurses, interns, doctors, specialists, lab technicians, pharmacists, billing staff, insurance processors and more. Beyond that, medical records come in multiple forms – lab test results to X-rays,prescription labels etc. So, when you combine the number of people involved with handling multiple forms of PHI records, along with the immaturity of the data security systems and practices that are in place, there are so many opportunities for mistakes or intentional breaches to take place.
The attraction of PHI is that its value does not degrade as rapidly as credit card data, which can be changed or updated quickly.
I recently read a study from Aberdeen Group that revealed “a steady increase in enterprise use of tokenization as an alternative to encryption for protecting sensitive data” and that half of the organizations are using data tokenization for PII and PHI data. The name of the study is “Tokenization Gets Traction”.
This is a short list of effective measures that I suggest to implement:
1. Fine-grained de-identification of both PII (Personally Identifiable Information) and PHI.
2. Fine-grained tokenization of PHI, to alleviate the need for plain-text data and exposure in-memory across the entire data flow.
3. Strong credentials, including password improvement and rotation, plus separation of duties to prevent privileged users, such as database administrators or system administrators, from accessing sensitive data.
Secure the data to the point that it is useless to a potential thief. Modern solutions such as tokenization provide better security than encryption, while retaining usability for analytics and monetization.
Ulf Mattsson, CTO Protegrity