Healthcare IT & Remote Access: Exposing Virtualization’s Strengths and Weaknesses

While remote access helps make carrying out business convenient and more efficient, it is important to understand that with ease of use and access to information, comes the vulnerability of this information. Healthcare IT companies are instrumental not only in implementing effective remote access, but also in helping to secure the sensitive information being accessed via the cloud.

Technology that allows you to remotely access operating systems and business information, whether it be by internet connection or cellular data, is an incredibly valuable business tool. Virtualization of company and consumer data and implementation of enterprise cloud solutions enables company professionals to easily access the hospital network from anywhere.

However, while remote access is extremely beneficial, it can also put companies, and their customers, in great danger. Unsecured access from remote devices gives hackers a pathway to compromise organization networks and in the case of the Healthcare industry, gain access to patients’ medical records.

To see how destructive a data breach can be, one need only think back to Target’s massive data compromise in 2013. It is believed that the incident began when a hacker gained access to one of Target’s systems via a remote access account belonging to an HVAC company. Hacker’s utilized that access to gain a foothold on an internal system and then leapfrog to other systems inside the Target’s network. The breach, which resulted in the theft of 40 million consumer credit card and debit card numbers was extremely harmful to the customer’s affected and the retailer’s reputation.

There is no reason to believe that a similar attack could not take place on Healthcare providers. In fact, recent attack trends show that cyber thieves have been shifting focus to Healthcare due to the lucrative nature of patient health information on the black market. According to a 2015 Ponemon Institute study, medical identify theft incidents increased 21.7 percent since 2014.[i] In a growingly dangerous world of cyber-crime, implementing the correct, effective Healthcare IT solutions for remote access and cloud computing is critical to ensuring the security of sensitive information.

In today’s day in age when everyone seems to be “plugged-in,” conducting work from the road via Smartphone or at an offsite meeting on a tablet or laptop, it is safe to assume that remote access is here to stay. With that said, Healthcare companies need to look at how to arm themselves to fend off these impending cyber attacks. While integrated biometrics, such as recognition of palm prints, facial characteristics, and fingerprints are likely to help securely authenticate a person’s identity in the future, the infrastructure for wide-use of this technology is not currently in place. Therefore, in the mean time, Healthcare providers have work to do.

In order to try to combat growing attacks on data by hackers, Healthcare organizations need to be proactive in protecting their customer’s sensitive data. This can only be done if companies not only make security an ongoing practice, but also a top priority that stays at the center of business operations and data management.