Data Privacy and Protection in Healthcare
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, data in container environments, 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, 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. In a recent study, healthcare organizations had a 60% higher cost associated with data breaches compared to other industries.
Healthcare records are considered highly valuable to cyber-attackers. This is because of the richness of personal, medical, and 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.
RRansomware 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.
Because of the anonymity provided by 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.
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.
Digital initiatives are encouraging the healthcare industry to find new ways of engaging with their patients, improving care, as well as gaining both patient and business insights. As a result, many healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are using container technology to improve DevOps so they can increase application delivery and bring new products and services to the market quicker to accomplish those objectives.
But despite the positive impact that containers have had on DevOps, they also create a host of new security challenges – with data protection being at the top of that list. Organizations are relying on access control, monitoring/logging, and existing workload security solutions to protect their container environments, but very few of them have incorporated encryption because of the performance effect and complexity it often adds. It’s for this reason that encryption is consistently the last security solution to make its way into newer technologies like containers.
The reality is that critical, sensitive data resides in containers and it needs to be encrypted to ensure security and compliance with stringent regulations like HIPAA.
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.