Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

Healthcare Data Risk Greatest From Human Error

Despite advances in security technology and regulations, human mistakes will likely continue to cause data security breaches that jeopardize patient privacy.

Human foibles will likely continue to cause data security breaches despite advances in the security technology until users fully understand the risks involved with their behavior, said healthcare CIOs at during an e-health panel at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass. on Wednesdays.

While advancements in security technology better protects patient data, and regulations like HIPAA aim to set rules for information security and privacy, some breaches boil down to humans making mistakes.

"Everything in our environment is encrypted," said William Fandrich, senior VP and CIO at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

However, despite solid attempts at security protection and other precautions, healthcare organizations need to emphasize--and continue to remind--employees about simple things they need to do to prevent patient privacy breaches. That includes taking care or portable or thumbnail storage devices, securing laptop computers and other obvious but simple ways of securing patient data.

Laptop encryption "sounds easy, but it's not" when getting cooperation of users, said Susan Schade, CIO at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

On audience member relayed a story about a neighbor's daughter temping in a local, small doctor office, and how the daughter apparently snooped through patients' e-medical records. CIOs on the panel were unanimous that workers who snoop at patient records should be fired, and even the smallest doctor offices need to pay attention to e-health record tracking, auditing and access control features of their software.

Yet despite consumers' fears about their digital health data being violated, paper files continue to be even more vulnerable to breaches whether it's "fax machines shooting out" patient files, said Fandrich, or paper records being left in the open.

A recent incident involving Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island involved the breach of records for 12,000 patients. However, those records were paper documents that were erroneously left in a file cabinet that was being donated along with other office furniture.

Security has in improved vastly in recent years at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said CIO Julie Boughn. CMS hired its first "ethical hackers" in 2000 and over the last decade security is "vastly better and getting better," thought improvements can still be made, she said.

For healthcare IT adoption to be successful--helping to improve quality of care and reduce costs--patients have an important role in willing to allowing their data to be exchanged among healthcare providers, such as between their primary care doctors and specialists. However, that means patients have to trust that their data is also being protected.

Trust is also a big part of data exchange among healthcare providers, not only in protecting patient's privacy but also in hospitals having access to another provider's data, "seeing the data and making decisions based on it," said Boughn. "You've got to trust what you're seeing" in terms of accuracy, she said.

What will hamper the adoption of health IT and its embrace by patients and healthcare providers?

"A big breach will set us back," said Boughn, such as an incident that happened several years ago at the VA when a laptop computer containing personal information about 26 million veterans and military personnel was stolen.

"A lot comes down to communication. People understanding what they need to do and how to protect information," Schade said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19740
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
Octeth Oempro 4.7 allows SQL injection. The parameter CampaignID in Campaign.Get is vulnerable.
CVE-2019-19746
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
make_arrow in arrow.c in Xfig fig2dev 3.2.7b allows a segmentation fault and out-of-bounds write because of an integer overflow via a large arrow type.
CVE-2019-19748
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
The Work Time Calendar app before 4.7.1 for Jira allows XSS.
CVE-2017-18640
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
The Alias feature in SnakeYAML 1.18 allows entity expansion during a load operation, a related issue to CVE-2003-1564.
CVE-2019-19726
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-12
OpenBSD through 6.6 allows local users to escalate to root because a check for LD_LIBRARY_PATH in setuid programs can be defeated by setting a very small RLIMIT_DATA resource limit. When executing chpass or passwd (which are setuid root), _dl_setup_env in ld.so tries to strip LD_LIBRARY_PATH from th...