How insecure can health data get? Very.

Gigaom is one of our go-to sites for enthusiastic whiz-bang health gadget coverage (and more), but here’s the downside of all those devices: all that data. And it’s not only not secure, but also getting more insecure. Grégoire Ribordy of Swiss encryption company ID Quantique makes some key (and scary) points on the data breaches looming–and he doesn’t mention that block of Swiss cheese Healthcare.gov once:

  1. One-stop storage for your total health records and data, an idée fixe among government and single-payer theoreticians, just makes it one-stop-shopping for hackers.
  2. Richer health data means more to steal and exploit.  There’s also the illegal use of genetic information for employment discrimination–hard to enforce regulations, easy to misuse personal data.
  3. Biological crime isn’t just a future plot of ‘Law & Order.’ Criminals can target patients with specific conditions–or healthcare workers can make money on the side by supplying accident victim data to personal injury attorneys, as recently happened in NY. For prominent people, their sensitive health information can be leaked to the press for profit. Or, as we’ve detailed previously, there’s always hacking remotely controlled devices such as pacemakers [TTA 1 Nov 13].
  4. All that fitness data, which is becoming more medicalized, goes somewhere–hackable. Whether its on your phone or ‘the cloud’, it’s vulnerable–and valuable. Same thing with the genetic data collected by companies like 23andMe.
  5. Current data may be encrypted–but the past may not be. (That past can be on local computers, on old x-rays or paper records that aren’t well mulched. See ‘Previously in TTA’.)
  6. New computers and software make current security precautions obsolete.

But can we develop the ‘failsafe protocols’ advocated, quickly and thoroughly enough so they protect you and me–or is it a Sisyphean task? M. Ribordy does not answer that question. The frightening truth about the security of our healthcare data

Previously in TTAThe exploding black market in healthcare data plus many more articles on ‘data breaches.’

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