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Five main threats to data on medical patients highlighted.

Absolute Software : 18 April, 2008  (Technical Article)
Laptop protection is paramount in the healthcare industry according to Absolute Software who reveal the five most significant threat to the sensitive data they contain.
As healthcare workers become increasingly mobile, transporting laptops containing sensitive patient information around with them, so does the IT security threat this poses.

Unlike some other parts of the world, UK law does not protect data kept on healthcare computer systems beyond duty of care and a professional requirement for patient confidentiality.

There has been a spate of high profile data loss incidents over the last few months including the NHS losing hundreds of thousands of patients' records, which have highlighted the need to make data kept on these computers more secure. Absolute Software Corporation, the leader in computer theft recovery services, data protection and secure asset tracking solutions, has identified the top five computer security risks to healthcare industry:.

1 Failure to protect sensitive data beyond encryption - Encryption provides strong external security, but the biggest threat is from the enemy within. Employees can get access to encrypted information as they have encryption keys and passwords. Added to this, as lost or stolen mobile computers are a big cause of data breaches, healthcare organisations must complement encryption with the ability to remotely delete data from missing computers for the highest level of data protection.

2 Inability to accurately manage mobile computer assets - How many IT managers can honestly account for all their laptops and computers at any given time? At best, only a fraction can be accounted for. Internet-based, firmware-persistent IT asset management solutions such as Absolute Software's ComputraceOne can provide visibility into as much as 99.7% of a computer population - regardless of computer location.

3 Sensitive information on hospital terminals - Many hospitals and clinics allow information to be accessed on open-air terminals, such as ward and nursing stations. These workstations are at great risk of data breaches and information can be easily accessed and downloaded. Unattended stationary computers should always be monitored and protected with an authentication prompt.

4 Difficulty implementing a comprehensive data security plan - Healthcare facilities need to institute a comprehensive data security plan to secure computing assets and sensitive information which includes both IT and physical precautions. Asset tracking and recovery software should be part of a comprehensive approach, which also includes cable locks, encryption software and secure passwords. The plan needs to be reviewed and updated consistently to ensure maximum effectiveness.

5 Reluctance to create a data breach policy - Few healthcare facilities have 'nightmare scenario' policies in place should a data breach occur. In the event of a data breach, there should be a standard procedure in place to manage the event, from timely notification of supervisors to informing the police. In a data breach situation, computer theft recovery software solutions such as ComputraceOne have the capability to remotely delete sensitive files, track lost or stolen computers and partner with the local police force in order to recover them.

For more information on Absolute and its range of Computer Theft Recovery, Data Protection and Secure Asset Tracking solutions, please visit the Absolute Software web site.
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