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Importance Of Genuine Anonymization Of Patient Data In Healthcare

Data anonymization is the process of protecting private or individual sensitive information by either erasing or encrypting the personal identifiers that form the connection between an individual and stored data. This helps in retaining the data while keeping the source anonymous.

What Is the Need For Anonymization Of Patient Data?

  • Data science including collection and analysis of patient data is of immense importance for improving healthcare. It forms the basis of healthcare research for improving drug discovery, predicting epidemics, designing advanced cures, etc.

However, the law requires healthcare researchers to keep the PHI (Personal Health Information) of people secure. So, the only way of using patient’s data for research is to get their consent beforehand. This places a limitation on the data sets as some patients may decline the consent. Data anonymization lifts certain restrictions as it removes the patient’s identifiers and renders the data anonymous. It provides healthcare researchers the ability to access extensive, coherent, and historic data that can be built upon without damaging patient trust.

  • Second reason that emphasizes the importance of genuine anonymization of patient data is that patients may be reluctant to seek medical attention if they fear that their PHI may be shared with someone. Genuine anonymization helps the healthcare institutes in offering privacy assurance to their patients.
  • An information leak or disclosure that an individual has tested positive for STIs such as HIV/AIDS can invite discrimination or social stigma. Anonymization of such data helps in reducing the risk of such disclosure and maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of patient data.
  • Another reason for incorporating genuine anonymization of patient data in the healthcare industry is to keep the data secure from cyber criminals who may cause a data breach and negatively affect the patients.

What Data Anonymization Techniques Can Be Used?

Data Masking: Real data is hidden by altering values. For example, a mirror of a dataset may be created and the value characters may be replaced with symbols such as ‘*’ or ‘x’.

Pseudonymization: The private identifiers such as name, address, etc. are replaced with face identifiers or pseudonyms.

Generalization: Some of the identifier data is removed while retaining a measure of data accuracy. For example, removing house number from the patient’s address while retaining the road name.

Data Swapping: It is also known as shuffling or permutation. The dataset attribute values are rearranged so that they don’t correspond with original values.

Data Perturbation: The original data set is modified by adding noise to the data and rounding off the numbers such as age or house number of the patient.

Synthetic Data: An artificial data set is created instead of altering the original dataset based on patterns and statistical analysis.

For more information on the importance of genuine anonymization of patient data and methods of implementation in healthcare, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

Reasons Why Companies Fail In Securing Data

      

Companies accumulate large amount of data every year. The data may include important information like trade secrets, customer information, client database, product/service information, marketing strategies, etc. It is important for the companies to keep this data secured to prevent financial, trade and reputation loss. However, an increasing rate of data breach incidents indicate that most companies fail to secure their data.

Here are some common mistakes that the enterprises make leading to loss of data:

  • Lack of Security Testing: New security features are launched at regular intervals. While it is recommended that businesses should update their security features with newer versions; the switch should be made after proper testing. The companies make the mistake of skipping the beta phase of testing (a testing phase where vulnerabilities of a new security feature are detected and rectified by the technical team of organization). Implementing any new security feature without thorough testing puts the business data at the risk because hackers get the chance to exploit the vulnerabilities and launch a data breach.
  • Forgetting To Map Data: Data movement is an essential component for managing the operations of any business. As the use of online resources is increasing, data movement forms the basis of marketing/ sales strategies, collaborative meeting of on-shore & off-shore employees, process handling between different teams, etc. As the data is regularly moving, it becomes important to keep a track of it. Mapping data is the process of marking the origin, journey and destination of data flow. It also involves keeping a track of every person who interacts with the data, and the changes made to it. This helps the data monitoring team to detect data handling patterns and recognize unexpected interactions at an early stage. However, companies usually commit the mistake of neglecting this important process.
  • Relying Solely On Anti-Virus: Although it is important to install anti-virus software into the computer systems of the organization to detect the malware; it should not be treated as the backbone of the cybersecurity strategies of the organization. Businesses make the mistake of relying solely on anti-virus software instead of installing other security measures that can detect and flag potentially malicious incoming data before it enters the network.
  • Using Outdated Versions Of Security Networks: When considering security networks, companies have to pay attention to three aspects namely security software, security hardware and internal network of company’s systems. Companies often update one or two of these aspects which leaves them at the risk of improper integration of security networks. The outdated versions lead to vulnerabilities in the system which can be exploited by hackers.

It is advisable for the businesses to focus on proper cybersecurity strategies to prevent data breach instances.

For more information about ways to secure data, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

 

Things You Need To Know About Mobile Device Management

Most of the employees at workplace connect their mobile devices to secure corporate networks. The trend is gaining popularity as it offers flexibility and convenience. However, this has given rise to concerns over security, privacy and connectivity. With the rapid adoption of BYOD culture by organizations, there is a requirement for more dynamic security solutions. Without a MDM (mobile device management) software, business information on lost or stolen devices will not be secured and can lead to loss of data. Also, personal devices used by employees have increased exposure to malware and viruses that could compromise confidential data.

This results in a rise in number of incidents involving data breach and hacking. Such events are detrimental for a company’s reputation among customers and other business partners. As there is an increase in corporate cyber-attacks, businesses are seeing the value of comprehensive MDM solutions.

Mobile device management is a system that is designed for IT administrators to secure policies, permission rights and applications across multiple platforms. It enables easy monitoring of all mobile devices to safeguard all business applications and credential assets. The organizations, through MDM software, can have complete control over their data.

For effective results, MDM solutions should be executed effectively. Essential criteria for successful MDM solution are:

  • Enforcement of security policies and passwords
  • 24/7 monitoring and fully manageable
  • Cloud-based system (to have automatic updates)
  • Remote configuration and monitoring
  • Restricting access to specific data and applications through Geo-fencing
  • Remote data wiping to prevent unauthorized access
  • Data restoration facility for corporate data
  • Rooting alerts for any attempts to bypass restrictions
  • Logging for compliance purposes
  • Remote disabling of unauthorized devices
  • Scalable – to accommodate new users and sophisticated devices
  • Device troubleshooting
  • Device location tracking

Other factors to be considered while implementing MDM solutions are:

  • Architecture: MDM software should be implemented depending upon the preferences of an individual business. Even with the increase in cloud services and infrastructure; organizations still have some systems that are run in their own data centers. In this case, solutions are required for on-site, cloud and hybrid options.
  • Direction: MDM solutions should be opted by a company depending upon the development of the enterprise. It should best fit current and future needs of the business.
  • Integration: It is essential for MDM solutions to comply with the existing security and management controls of the business. The right software will enhance both security and efficiency, enabling IT administrators to monitor and control from a single access point.

For more information about Mobile Device Management, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375-9654.