The Necessity and Challenge of Data Security in Healthcare

The need to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access has never been greater. Sensitive data in healthcare can include patient data like protected health information (PHI), stored data such as medical and payment records, payer and provider employee data, and data related to wired and wireless IoT (Internet of Things) medical devices which are ubiquitous in healthcare environments.

Since the passage of HIPAA and the advent of HITECH made electronic health records (EHR) and their protection mandatory within the healthcare industry, securely storing sensitive data has become a priority. The volume of this data continues to increase at a rapid rate. That is why healthcare organizations require increasingly larger datastores to house collected data…and greater protection for that data.

But healthcare organizations are not always properly prepared for managing and protecting their big data. That’s because IT departments within healthcare organizations often lack the budget necessary to bolster big data security. This puts them at risk.

Data Breaches

Data breaches, like the one that exposed nearly 38 million Anthem Health Insurance patient records, are becoming increasingly common. The healthcare industry has the highest risk factor when it comes to experiencing a data breach. Statistics show 88% of all ransomware attacks in 2017 targeted the healthcare industry.

Healthcare records are considered highly valuable to cyber-attackers. This is because of the richness of personal, medical, financial information contained within each EHR. Data thieves can easily resell this information on the dark web. With access to this information, identity theft, insurance fraud, and financial fraud is committed for financial gain by criminal elements.

But data is at risk even if an organization does not suffer an outside attack. Information can be leaked internally when employees, contractors, and IT security personnel do not take the proper precautions to manage and protect their data. A proven solution for data protection is data encryption. This makes data accessible and legible only to authorized individuals who have an encryption key.

Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the most common forms of cyberattacks, no matter the industry. A form of malware, a ransomware attack occurs when the victim’s data is encrypted by an outsider, rendering the data inaccessible and unusable. The attacker then demands a ransom fee in exchange for the safe return of the data. If a victim chooses not to pay the ransom, the threat is that they will permanently lose access to all of their data and it may later be resold on the “dark web.”

Because of the anonymity provided by bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies, ransomware attacks can be carried out more easily than ever. The exchange of currency can be made without the intervention of a third party (usually a bank) and does not include traditional routing numbers that signal the location or identity of the cybercriminal. Hackers performing ransomware attacks can receive a huge return.

The healthcare industry is the largest target of ransomware attacks. In 2016 alone, 88% of all ransomware victims were in the healthcare industry. This is precisely because they are more willing to pay in exchange for the health records, as it is a matter of safety more than a matter of security. Without access to patient records when necessary, patients will die.

Where does Zettaset come in?

Zettaset is a leader in data protection and security for the healthcare industry, and an experienced data encryption provider. Security and privacy issues are magnified when it comes to big data in healthcare.

Zettaset has developed security solutions designed and optimized, from the ground up, to address data privacy and protection needs in healthcare and other industries. Zettaset security solutions, including the XCrypt™ Data Encryption Platform, are optimized for performance and scalability in the dynamic, high-volume data environments that exist within the healthcare industry.

Try XCrypt today.

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