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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.

How To Implement A Successful Remote Work Strategy?

The number of employees working from home on a full-time or part-time basis has increased in the past few years. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this number has increased many folds. Although it is the need of time but working from home poses some challenges such as lack of face-to-face supervision, lack of access to information, distractions at home, sense of being left out, security breach, etc. This is exerting pressure on businesses to implement effective remote work strategies to tackle the challenges/risks and improve the efficiency of the workforce.

Here are some tips for implementing a successful remote work strategy:

  • Structured Daily Check-In: Remote managers should make it a point to establish a daily call with the remote employees. It may be an individual or team call based on the nature of individual work (whether the remote workers operate independently or in a collaborative manner). The aim of the call should be to provide a forum to the employees where they can discuss any work-related concerns and get an effective solution. The call can also be used as a platform to discuss daily goals and progress to keep a tab on productivity.
  • Provide Different Communication Technologies: Making use of different communication technology options can be imperative for a successful remote work strategy. Businesses should consider a video conference for maintaining a personal interaction between the employees. The video conference technology may be used for conducting complex or sensitive communications. The organizations can also make use of mobile-enabled individual messaging functionalities for handling simpler, less formal, or time-sensitive conversations. However, remote managers should make it a point to consult the IT department of the organization before making use of any communication tool to ensure data security.
  • Lay Out Ground Rules Of Engagement: Lay out clear rules to maintain uniformity of engagement channels among the remote employees. The rules should discuss the mode of communication to be used based on the nature of communication. It is also important to state a fixed time for team meetings and video conferences. Once the rules are set, the managers should monitor the communications to ensure that the employees are adhering to the rules and sharing information as per the directives.
  • Educate Employees On Data Access And Sharing Policies: A key challenge in implementing a remote work strategy is to ensure data security. So, remote managers should collaborate with the IT department to lay out strict data access, data sharing, and user login policies. Educate the employees about the data policies, data breach, ways to detect a cyber attack, etc. A good approach is to organize webinars for the team to provide the required information and acquaint the employees with the security protocols.

For more information on ways to implement a successful remote work strategy, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

Balancing Automation With Security

Automation helps in enhancing the productivity of a company by streamlining the processes. Technological advancements have helped companies in automating routine tasks for better management of time and resources. Undoubtedly, automation seems like a lucrative option and a large number of companies are grasping the opportunity. However, it has some security risks that should be taken into consideration before incorporating automation into your operations.

  • If your business process makes use of IoT enabled devices for data collection and process execution, a through security audit is recommended. It is also important to make sure there are no vulnerabilities in the internet or LAN connection that may install Trojans or malware in the system.
  • When automating your company’s payment process, it may be a risk to provide access to multiple people. If multiple employees are authorized to set up and verify payments, the chances of insider threats may increase.
  • Relying excessively on automated tools is another security risk for your business. Periodic manual checks to correlate automated process findings should be conducted.
  • Like other software, ignoring regular updates of automation software may open a back door for cyber attackers.

Once you understand the risks associated with automation, here are some ways to help you balance automation with security:

  • Set Security As A Priority: As the automation market is growing, the service providers have a zeal to launch the latest solutions at a higher pace than their competitors. This may lead to ignorance of security measures during the beta phase of development. Thus, make it a point to ask the automation provider about the built-in security measures. Also, you may consider a trial period to test if the products match your security standard.
  • Think Before Scaling Up: Investing in automation for the sake of keeping up with the trend may lead to the obliviousness of security measures. Thus, before you invest in automation, you should consider the need and purpose. Also, pay attention to your system and infrastructure security before scaling up the automation operations.
  • Regular Updates: Outdated software has vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers and may lead to cybersecurity breaches. So, it is important to be aware of software updates provided by your automation service provider.
  • Automate Cybersecurity: Incorporating automation in your cybersecurity strategies can help in improving your security protocol by offering features such as better threat detection, data correlation, etc.
  • Training: Before incorporating automation in your operations, train your employees to train them on ways to use the automation tools while considering security protocols.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide state-of-the-art IT security solutions for businesses. For more information on securely incorporating automation tools into your work processes, call us at (972) 375 - 9654.

What Is Cyberbullying?

With the increasing use of technology, there has been a rise in problems such as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying also known as cyber-harassment & online bullying, is the display of inappropriate behavior or influence in written, verbal or physical form with an intent to intimidate, threaten, harass & embarrass someone over internet.

Cyberbullying is usually common between teens, however adults are equally vulnerable to it. Following are the most common forms of cyberbullying:

  • Outing: It is a deliberate act to embarrass or harass someone publically by posting his confidential & private information online without his consent. Revelation of personal information by someone can have a major impact on the victim. 
  • Fraping: In this form of cyberbullying, your social media account is hacked by someone. They log into your account and post inappropriate content by impersonating you. Posing as someone and posting unsuitable content online can have a serious impact as it ruins the reputation of the victim. 
  • Dissing: It is the act of posting or sending information about a person with an intent to criticize him, damage his reputation, hamper his relationships, etc. It can be done by posting personal pictures & videos or sharing certain screenshots to put the other person down. Dissing is usually done by a victim’s friend or acquaintance. 
  • Trolling: It is a deliberate act of insulting someone on social media & other online platforms. A troll usually posts unwanted comments & material to incite the victim for a response. Trolling attacks are usually personal and are carried to instigate anger among the victims in order to make them lash out & behave improperly.
  • Trickery: Cyberbully often pretends to be the victim’s confidant by giving him a false sense of security. They gain the victim’s trust to an extent that the victim reveals his secrets & private information to them. They trick the victim and gather sensitive information about them which is then posted on social platforms to embarrass him publically or is either sent to a third party.
  • Cyberstalking: It can have serious effect on a person’s emotional, mental & physical well-being. Stalkers make use of the internet or electronic media to gather information for the purpose of harassing an individual or group.
  • Catfishing: A catfish is a person who wants to hide his identity. They usually steal the victim’s information available online such as photos to create a fake profile. This could be used for deceptive purposes where the impersonator might post rude or hurtful comments, indulge in sexual and racist activities, chat with other people while posing as the victim, etc.

It is important to know about different forms of cyberbullying in order to avoid falling prey to them.

For more information, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

What Is Deep Web?

Deep web comprises of uncatalogued sub-pages of domains, encrypted networks, password-protected data, private databases etc. The content in this invisible web cannot be indexed by the search engines and so it is generally hard to keep a track of it. Although there is no accurate estimate, but deep web is considered to be 400 to 500 times bigger than the surface web which is a part of World Wide Web that is available to general public and can be indexed by search engines.

Web, in general, can be compared to an iceberg where surface web resembles the visible tip and the huge part hidden below the surface forms the deep web.

What Can Be Found On The Deep Web?

A search engine, by crawling from one page to another, creates an index of pages that are linked to one another. However, the page that could not be linked to another page or could not be found by the spiders or crawlers of a search engine comes under the ambit of deep web. It could be an unpublished or unlisted blog post, file directory, picture and/or the content which the search engine cannot see.

You are most likely to find a record of following things on the deep web:

  • Personal email accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Online banking accounts
  • Medical records
  • Legal records
  • Academic records
  • Data stored on private databases

Who Uses The Deep Web?

  • Journalists
  • Police and military
  • Whistleblowers
  • Political protesters

Common Misconceptions About Deep Web?

  • Deep web is illegal
  • It can be accessed by experts only
  • It cannot be searched at all
  • It is the same as ‘dark web’
  • It is smaller or equivalent to surface web in terms of size
  • It is run by criminals

Difference Between Deep & Dark Web?

The terms often used interchangeably are however, quite different from each other. The former is the pool of information on the web that cannot be accessed by search engines, but can be retrieved if you have an address. Whereas, the information on dark web is kept secretive purposely. It is often linked to criminal & illegal activity.  

In the absence of deep web, it would have been difficult in maintaining privacy as in that scenario anybody could access your accounts by searching you on google. Since, this information is private so deep web helps in preventing it from being misused.

For more information on deep web, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.