Healthcare institutions vulnerable to breaches, according to report

December 7, 2012

Healthcare institutions are turning to the cloud as a cost-effective solution to store large amounts of information. Using tablets and laptops, physicians can access the cloud from anywhere to treat patients and run business applications. As more organizations take advantage of cloud computing services to modernize their work processes, experts have noticed an increase in the number of data breaches compromising private networks.

The Ponemon Institute recently released its Third Annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy & Data Security, which found that healthcare facilities are having a difficult time managing data breaches. According to the survey, 94 percent of 80 polled healthcare organizations have suffered at least one data breach in the past two years, while 45 percent were the victims of more than 5 breaches that resulted in lost or stolen medical files and insurance records. The majority of data breaches were caused by lost equipment (46 percent), followed by employee errors (42 percent), outsider attacks (33 percent) and technology problems (31 percent).

Breaches can interrupt the flow of business and cost decision-makers time and money. According to the report, the U.S. healthcare industry has spent an average of $7 billion a year recovering documents.

It is crucial for employers to put data loss prevention measures in place to secure patient information and block possible threats. Rick Kam, the president of ID Experts, which sponsored the survey, said that hospitals should develop incident response plans outlining steps to follow in order to recover mission-critical files and minimize downtime, Becker's Hospital Review reported. IT departments should also update mobile and cloud computing security policies and educate professionals about the proper way to access information. Experts encourage employers to install security software and firewalls to monitor breaches and protect files. 

-McAfee Cloud Security