How to protect sensitive healthcare data in medical organizations
The resale of medical records is an extremely lucrative activity for hackers. This type of data is even sold at much higher prices than credit card information on the black market. As a result, crimes and identity theft involving healthcare data are on the rise all over the world.
According to a study conducted in North America, cyber attacks in the health sector have increased by 125% since 2010 and are now the main cause of healthcare data confidentiality violations. The study also found that approximately 9 out of 10 medical organizations had experienced at least one data breach.
The question is therefore more relevant than ever: how can sensitive data be protected within a medical organization?
Protect medical record transfers with data encryption
Data encryption is a good starting point for securing medical information. It can be applied when storing data in the Cloud, in a database, on removable media, etc., as well as when transferring data by e-mail.
The basic principles of encryption are relatively simple. They are based on the use of encryption algorithms and “keys”. When confidential medical information is sent, it is encrypted (scrambled) using an algorithm and cannot be decrypted without the appropriate key. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliance requirements for encryption include rigorous key management, ensuring that encryption keys and encrypted data are stored separately.
Two-factor identification, another essential precaution for medical data security
Since leaks of confidential medical information are not always the result of criminal activity, but can also be caused by employee errors, every health organization is responsible for implementing strict policies and procedures governing access to the sensitive data at its disposal. This requirement is even included in the HIPAA law, which also requires organizations to periodically evaluate the effectiveness of their policies and procedures for accessing patient information.
One of the most effective ways to secure data access is through the use of two-factor authentication. This consists of a secure login process in which the user must provide two different elements before being allowed to continue his or her session (learn more about two-factor authentication)
Two-factor authentication enhances security by preventing unauthorized persons from accessing secure medical files, even if they’re simply sent the files by mistake. It has been used for many years to limit access to certain computer systems and sensitive data from organizations in several industry sectors.
Comply with medical data security requirements
As you can see, medical organizations have effective means to prevent leaks of confidential medical data from occurring.