a nursing informatics toolbox

Is my latest cholesterol level safe in the clouds? (a closer look at cloud computing in healthcare)


Most of us are already using the power of cloud computing in so many ways. You might not be aware of it, but when you use the Internet to upload your vacation pictures into Flicker or store your documents in your DropBox, you are already taking advantage of “cloud power”. You might ask, is it safe? What if it rains?

Rain will not affect your data in the clouds, but hackers can. That is why we need to balance its convenience and economic advantage with its inherent risks. In a recent article, CNN mentioned that there are numerous reasons why businesses use the cloud, and security is never one of them. It is, therefore, obvious that “cloud security” is an oxymoron. The cloud will never be totally secure. Who cares anyway, risks are an inherent part of our lives? If we are afraid of risk, we will never go anywhere.

Are you going to entrust your treasured medical record to the cloud? Why not? Do you think it is safer in your house than in the clouds? Not really! Wherever you keep your medical records, the risk will always be there. The current aversion by healthcare to the cloud is a misconception. Look at the banking sector; they have been using this medium for so many years and “cybercrooks” didn’t stop them. I am sure these criminals are more interested in your money than your recent cholesterol level.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as required by the HITECH Act, reported all breaches in the medical record security which affects 500 or more individual. Based on that report, 49% are physical theft, 14% physical loss, 16% from unauthorized access and only 6% from hacking. Examining the details of these violations, you will undoubtedly find amusing stories that will rival the excitement of movies like Italian Job and The Pink Panther. The said report, however, suggests that we are more at risk from our own negligence and plain stupidity than from the likes of LulzSec.

On the other hand, let us look at the latest “hack attack” facts:

· Sony spent $173 million to repair the damage they sustained from cyber attacks to their PlayStation Network

· The Zeus Malware Program stole almost $ 1 Billion dollars

· 660% increase in reported cyber crime incident from 2006 to 2010

It is really scary! Do we have a better alternative? Is it worth the risk?


Time Magazine July 4 Issue, Hack Attack by Bill Saporito

CNN Online


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