Sunday, February 14, 2010

HealthCare consumers are susceptible but resilient to Security Threats (on Social Networking Sites/Email/Data Piracy):

Social networks are evolving into a much sought after resource for individuals seeking healthcare information. Patients leverage social networking groups to explore the experiences of others that are battling similar diseases. Clinicians connect via Social Networks to share information and learn from each other.

  • 57% of users report they have been spammed via social networking sites, a rise of 70.6% from last year
  • 36% reveal they have been sent malware via social networking sites, a rise of 69.8% from last year
  • 72% of firms surveyed are worried that employee usage of social networking sites places their firms at risk
  • Survey respondents identified Facebook as the social networking site posing the greatest security risks
  • 49% of companies survey allow their employees unrestricted access to Facebook, up from 36% a year ago

Data protection is listed in four out of five computer security risks for Healthcare identified by Computer theft recovery firm Absolute Software published a year ago (Feb 2009)

  1. Failure to Protect Sensitive Data Beyond Encryption
  2. Inability to Accurately Manage Mobile Computer Assets
  3. Sensitive Information on Public Terminals
  4. Difficulty Implementing a Comprehensive Data Security Plan
  5. Reluctance to Create a Data Breach Policy

Fortunately the biggest data losses of the last decade ( do not have an entry from HealthCare Industry. This may change in the next decade due to the extensive digitization in the HealthCare Industry and the high value of health records.
HIMSS had published steps and tools to effectively leverage HIPAA compliance to incorporate Data Security into a portfolio of risk management strategies thus protecting Data Privacy and Security Rule requirements and aligning Healthcare organization’s policies, procedures, and practices with an identifiable standard of practice.

Email and Web: One of the areas that Partnerka (Criminal affiliate networks) targeted extensively in 2009 is the online pharmacies promoted through spam to sell illegal, off-prescription and often unsafe pharmaceuticals. A report by web security company MX Logic states that pharmacy and other healthcare-related junk e-mails accounted for almost 69% of all spam during the month of Aug 2009. Source: and

What do consumers do now? If the digitization and internet statistics are any measure, the consumers are not running for cover. The consumers need to get savvy and protect him/her against such pranks and illicit trade on the internet. Consistent with any other facets of public life, consumers need to be alert of the illegal and anti-social activities in this exploding public domain of internet.

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