Top 5 Threats to Electronic Health Data on Cloud and How to Secure It

May 3, 2022 | Comments(0) |

By 2025, it is estimated that the healthcare cloud computing market will be worth a whopping $55 billion!! Cyber security in healthcare has gained more impetus in recent days. Due to the advent of Information and Communications Technology, the healthcare sector is revolutionized. This is made possible by the widespread use of computers, tablets, and mobile phones, with high-speed internet connectivity. Thus, the healthcare infrastructure has moved from paper-based records to electronic health records.   

Apart from the traditional expectations from the cloud, like scalability and storage, the health organizations of today are looking at the attractive features of the cloud: collaboration, reachability, efficiency, and security to name a few. Let us first understand what electronic health data is and comprehend the features of Cyber security in healthcare.

TABLE OF CONTENT
1. What is Electronic Health Data?
2. Benefits of Electronic Health Data
3. Advantages of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Industry
4. Threats to Cloud-based Electronic Health Data and Suggested Solutions
5. About CloudThat
6. Conclusion

 

What is Electronic Health Data?

It is a digital version of a patient’s health records. It provides real-time health records of a patient instantly and securely, to the authorized users. It can contain: 

  • medical and treatment histories of patients 
  • diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory and test results 

It can facilitate the health care providers by allowing access to evidence-based tools, that can help in making informed decisions about the treatment.

  

A simple electronic health record system

(Source: Electronic health records: A Manual for Developing countries by WHO)

Benefits of Electronic Health Data

A plethora of electronic health record security benefits exist. Important ones are identified here:

  1. Facilitate easy access of patient health data from anywhere and at any time.
  2. They take up less storage space and can be stored for an indefinite time.
  3. Reduce the chances of losing the health records.
  4. Help in tracking the patient progress and improve patient compliance.
  5. Give a complete summary of a patient’s clinical encounters, hence improving the accuracy and speed of diagnosis and avoiding unnecessary tests.
  6. Can be shared easily across healthcare facilities.
  7. Backup can be provided at a very low cost.

Advantages of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare professionals have started to use cloud computing to address the needs of businesses and patients. These are the advantages of cloud computing in the healthcare industry:

  1. Collaboration: Cloud promotes easy data sharing among doctors, nurses, and caretakers in real-time. They can also access medical reports at any time, from anywhere. Quick updates on patient conditions, remote conferencing, and so on, make the life of a healthcare professional, a lot easier.
  2. Security: Cyber Security in Healthcare is one area that has to stay highly confidential. It is also a hot attraction point to the malicious players who attempt data breaches and Electronic Healthcare records ( The cloud system has proper security tools that inform you of security breaches or any suspicious activities. Major players like AWS and Azure employ safety mechanisms like Network Fireball, customer-controlled encryption, etc. to address all such security needs.
  3. Cost: Since the cloud works on a pay-as-you-go and subscription model, you pay only for the services you use. So, the cost of maintaining electronic health data is minimal. Cloud computing can also reduce your infrastructure and operational costs by shifting IT budgets from Capex to Opex. This way, even smaller hospitals can also afford the cloud.
  4. Speed: Cloud-based tools are equipped to upgrade their features at a very fast rate without much intervention. You can also get real-time information about patients’ conditions in no time.
  5. Scalability and Flexibility: Healthcare organizations expect the system to upgrade and downgrade the storage and network requirements according to the customer’s needs. Cloud facilitates this seamlessly.

Electronic Health Architecture in Cloud

 

Threats to Cloud-based Electronic Health Data and Suggested Solutions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cites ‘cloud threats’ as one of the top 5 security threats faced by electronic health data. The other 4 threats are phishing attacks, encryption blind spots, malware and ransomware, and insider threats from employees.  According to an IBM report, the average cost of a data breach in the health care industry was $9.23 million in 2021, up from $7.13 million in 2020.

The common security challenges are:

  1. Confidentiality: The patient data has to be protected from unauthorized access from public or internal users. Unauthorized access can result in data leakage and can severely damage businesses. With the ever-growing data size, the threat of exposing the data to external parties is also imminent. The patient can also refuse to give personal details to the doctors due to confidentiality issues.

Solution: By implementing access control and using encryption techniques, confidentiality can be achieved.

  1. Integrity: Integrity is a critical factor since the patient data should not be altered at any point in time.

Solution: Integrity can be achieved by a hashing mechanism or checksum for all the data. A better way is to implement blockchain technology, since it will guard against changing the hash of data.

 

  1. Availability: The data must be available round the clock.

Solution: Business-critical systems must be clustered so that they have maximum uptime without service interruptions.

 

  1. Dearth of security technologies: During transition to the cloud, the organizations must completely take care of the security architecture to withstand attacks. Without ensuring Cybersecurity in Healthcare, all the efforts of the healthcare organization to migrate securely to the cloud, go in vain.

Solution: Healthcare organizations must invest their budget in getting a robust security architecture in place.

 

  1. Unsecured APIs: Cloud computing providers develop a range of user software and APIs to allow customers to manage and interact with cloud services. The security and availability of standard cloud services are linked to the security of those APIs. Poorly designed APIs can lead to misuse or even worse, infringement of information. Exposed, broken, and hacked APIs have serious concerns about data breaches.

Solution: Healthcare really needs to understand the safety requirements for designing and introducing visible connectors online.

About CloudThat

CloudThat pioneers cloud training and consultancy for more than a decade in India. We have empowered 500K+ professionals on niche cloud technologies like Azure, AWS, GCP, VMware, AI/ML, Cloud Security, DevOps, Big Data Analytics, and others. Our clients endorse us as a cloud-agnostic organization on whom you can rely upon for any cloud-related solutions. We have accomplished one of the rarest feats by getting recognition of Microsoft Gold Partner, Authorized AWS Training Partner, Advanced AWS Consulting Partner, Authorized Google Cloud Partner, and Authorized VMware Training Reseller.

Conclusion

At this juncture, we are convinced that e-health is extremely powerful. It has changed the way healthcare services are provided. As an icing on the cake, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence – especially Machine Learning and Data Analytics, the healthcare world is experiencing a paradigm shift. All said and done, with great power, comes great responsibility. Thus, we need to focus on making the e-health system foolproof.


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