In the first half of 2015, the health care sector suffered from more data breaches than any other industry, according to data compiled by the Breach Level Index.

The leading cause of health care data breaches is people doing something that they shouldn’t. This may include employees losing or misplacing devices, sharing their password or access token with unauthorized parties or sending patient data to the wrong recipient. The number of leaks is only expected to rise in the near future since health data is estimated to be worth 10 times more than credit card data on the black market.

Cloud Services’ Treats for Health Care

Cloud solutions have the potential to reduce the negative effects of human error. By storing data in the cloud, there is no need to carry patient data on mobile devices or to send records by fax, post or email. Furthermore, advanced solutions for identity governance prevent unauthorized access to patient data.

Another advantage is that patient data is still accessible when devices are lost or stolen. With cloud solutions, the backup and recovery of data is easier, even if individuals have accidentally deleted emails or altered patient records.

No security technology is perfectly secure. The short life cycle of proposed encryption and authentication techniques, as well as the plethora of research frequently making headlines, could make it difficult to select a solution that is right for a specific health care service. Partnering with a security services vendor relieves health care managers of these highly specialized IT decisions.

Finally, cloud service providers are likely to maintain a state-of-the-art secure environment because that is what gives them a competitive advantage. Selling services with promises for flexibility and cost reductions is no longer a differentiator. Cloud service providers need to be able to take away at least some of the worries about patching, physical security and security certificates. As a result, they have specialized teams who are expertly trained and dedicated to managing all the operational security tasks related to the underlying security infrastructure, platforms and software.

However, these providers cannot take over all responsibility.

The Tricky Parts for Health Care Organizations

Health care organizations that outsource to cloud services still have to acknowledge the obligation they have to security and data governance. In spite of handing over operational tasks, enterprises continue to face difficult decisions about data ownership, data access, sharing of patient records and collaboration with other organizations. On top of that, they need to keep checking that the service provider meets all the requirements as stated in the contracts and data protection regulations. This is not an easy undertaking. It requires the support of additional experts to deal with particulars such as:

  • On-site audits;
  • Knowledge of privacy legislation in different states and countries;
  • Procedures for incident management;
  • Preparations for crisis communication in case of a breach.

We have learned from the financial and entertainment industry that the reputational and personal damage caused by a cloud data breach can be disastrous. This not only affects the patients and the health care organization that owns the data, but also the service provider.

The service provider might be held liable for data breaches, which could take them out of business. When health care organizations prepare their business continuity plan, it is wise to include an escape plan for when the provider does not survive or does not deliver according to expectations.

Turning the Tricks Into Treats

A prepared health care organization can turn the tricky bits of data protection into treats by following the best practices for cloud security and by demanding their service provider offer a complete cloud security portfolio — including managed access, data security, monitoring of security breaches and compliance violations and optimized security operations. Cloud services providers are fully equipped to deliver these secure solutions; all health care organizations have to do is find the right partner.

More from Cloud Security

What is data security posture management?

3 min read - Do you know where all your organization’s data resides across your hybrid cloud environment? Is it appropriately protected? How sure are you? 30%? 50%? It may not be enough. The Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 revealed that 82% of breaches involved data in the cloud, and 39% of breached data was stored across multiple types of environments. If you have any doubt, your enterprise should consider acquiring a data security posture management (DSPM) solution. With the global average…

Endpoint security in the cloud: What you need to know

9 min read - Cloud security is a buzzword in the world of technology these days — but not without good reason. Endpoint security is now one of the major concerns for businesses across the world. With ever-increasing incidents of data thefts and security breaches, it has become essential for companies to use efficient endpoint security for all their endpoints to prevent any loss of data. Security breaches can lead to billions of dollars worth of loss, not to mention the negative press in…

The importance of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) when Securing cloud environments

4 min read - According to the 2023 Thales Data Threat Report, 55% of organizations experiencing a data breach have reported “human error” as the primary cause. This is further compounded by organizations now facing attacks from increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals with a wide range of automated tools. As organizations move more of their operations to the cloud, they must also become increasingly aware of the security risks and threats that come with it. It’s not enough anymore to simply have a set of…

How I got started: Cloud security engineer

3 min read - In today’s increasingly cloud-focused business environment, cloud security engineers are pivotal in protecting an organization’s critical data and infrastructure. As experts in cloud security, they leverage their expertise to ensure that the ever-expanding amount of cloud data is safe from emerging threats and vulnerabilities. Cloud security professionals combine their passion for technology with a deep understanding of security principles to design and implement robust cloud security strategies. What experience do these security experts have, and what led them to the…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today