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Why is Cloud Security Vital for the Healthcare Industry?

It is a known fact that the healthcare industry is perhaps the most vulnerable to cyber threats these days. This does not come as a surprise since the presence of personal and financial details about millions of patients is bound to attract cybercriminals. Only a year back, the WannaCry ransomware strike had put the UK NHS in great jeopardy, leading to collapse on many of its facilities and appointments and operations getting cancelled. This is why when healthcare organizations decide to move to the cloud hosting servers, there are still some grounds for suspicion.

Studies show that almost 61% of healthcare enterprises are worried about malware attacks. Incidentally, healthcare is also the only industry in which data encryption is seen as a top security concern. Healthcare compliance rules usually mandate data encryption but the downside of this is that this may multiply a provider’s cloud charges. So, the smaller organizations naturally stay away from cloud migrations or consciously refrain from storing healthcare data in the cloud. Again the healthcare organizations have stated that employees are the biggest threat to cloud security and nearly half of the survey respondents feel that human factor is most responsible. But this has not improved visibility into user activities and very few organizations actually know what the IT staff does. While the IT staff may understand this mismatch they do not get the management supports for addressing this issue. In fact, there is very limited management support for deploying cloud security initiatives.

A few years back HIPAA compliance used to be a challenge. But the recent HIPAA Omnibus Rule that came into effect since March 2013 changed all of that and improved privacy for patient data. This is the time when cloud providers have faced challenges from healthcare organizations. They have continued to work to make sure that this migration to the cloud is secure and hassle-free.

How to Overcome Challenges to Cloud Security in Healthcare

– While there may be many concerns when you are deploying cloud security solutions in the healthcare industry, there are also ways to resolve them to obtain a robust cloud strategy. Healthcare data is vulnerable because it is increasing in value all the time. According to Ponemon Institute studies, average healthcare information breaches can cost nearly $380 for every record. Where the average worldwide cost records for all the industries is around $141, for healthcare breaches the cost is more than twice the worldwide average. When you try to put healthcare data in a cloud, you, therefore, have to design the infrastructure and connections in ways so that the data is totally safe. This is why now data centers and cloud providers are working in sync to safeguard healthcare data. When you are still not convinced about the security measures, you can always talk to the data center or cloud services provider which specializes in migrating workloads and apps into the cloud. For instance, there are many instances of using hybrid cloud architectures for meeting HIPAA standards.

– When you are not able to design the architecture properly the cloud costs may be too steep. This is something which many businesses have faced during the earlier days of cloud computing. But cloud design has indeed changed today and it is possible to granularly identify the workloads, data points and users in a cloud system. So, businesses can predict data requirements, usage and data locality depending on your needs to give you the best prices.

– Network reliability used to be a huge point of concern for the healthcare industry. When the network is not reliable or stable the data sets and apps which are meant to save patient lives cannot work optimally. There are bound to be limitations on services you are capable of delivering. Today, in an age of telemedicine, there is absolutely no scope for unreliability or latency. This problem was mainly due to design. You must consider the importance of an app or data set, where the access happens from and data proximity before creating a design. The need of the hour is a fast-paced network connection. This will ensure that all your workloads and key apps are always available.

– You can use many kinds of data storage options like cold storage, primary storage and archival storage. It is your choice when it comes to the type of storage you will use and where the data will be housed. Since data is critical you must understand data sovereignty and data locality requirements. Cloud hosting service providers who are working with healthcare organizations are going to assist you to keep the data where you need to and then help you access this easily.

– When you have decided to move to the cloud, you must have a good understanding of the service level structure even if you already have healthcare instance. So, you need to know whether you can survive without a certain app or how long you can go on without a particular data service etc. This means you should review your SLAs from time to time. Since apps and data are continuously changing, the SLA must change with it too.

Read More At Effective Management of Cloud Security Risks in SMBs

About Rohit Paul (10 Posts)

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