Can we use Big Data to stop healthcare hacks?

In this in-depth report on Big Data challenges and advantages, contributor John Mello examines how technology's tool set can stymie intruders in the healthcare industry, but can also be a curse for those who deploy it (registration required)

Despite the aggressive efforts of government regulators, the health care industry's reputation for security hasn't been stellar. Multiple breaches are reported on a weekly basis and with health care exchanges popping up under the federal Affordable Care Act, the situation could get worse before it gets better.

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One way custodians of health care data might be able to better protect patient information is by integrating "big data" security solutions into their systems. That, however, can present health care organizations with even more security challenges.

"When you look at the known number of data breaches in health care, it's staggering," said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4, a security awareness training company.

Health care organizations have increasingly been targeted by hackers as more and more of their data becomes electronic. Since 2009, hospitals and medical practices have been under the gun by regulators to ditch paper for electronic records by 2015. "There's been pushback that timeframe is too ambitious for providers to properly secure their data," said Joan Walker, a senior consultant with TayganPoint, a management consulting firm.

Not only is more medical information being placed online, but those who have access to that data is also expanding. Consumers can view their medical information online and medical professionals can use electronic information for sharing and collaboration with each other. "More online sensitive data and more access to that data means more opportunities for hackers," said John Pescatore, director of emerging trends for the SANS Institute.

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