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Concerns over NHS plans to move all sensitive patient data up into the Cloud!

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We have all heard of the online Cloud data storage; but pardon our old fashioned pessimism, but it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen!

It seems a far-fetched suggestion to trust all of your sensitive data to be stored in something that was named after floating wisps in the air that come and go depending on the weather. With all the data leak incidents and scandals erupting left, right and centre… we can’t be blamed for our scepticism when it comes to uploading personal information on the World Wide Web.

If it’s on the internet, surely hackers will always find their way in? So how is our sensitive medical date ever going to be safe when it’s all accessible online?

However, ever advancing technology means that the Cloud, if regulated properly, could be the future for safe and secure data storage for all. For the NHS who have been plagued by data leaks and breaches regularly, this could be the answer.

Or so some experts suggest…

The NHS and other health organisations have been hit by numerous internal and external attacks over the past few years.

Hackers often target the NHS, and it’s a real concern to know that our personal medical data is at serious risk of falling in to anyone’s hands.

Perhaps surprisingly, medical records are also reportedly 100 times more valuable as it can be easier to use the information for leverage. Medical records used for ransomware can be more fruitful for hackers as the need for up-to-date health records is one of urgency, as well as the fact that the data is so sensitive and personal.

Hospitals may end up paying the ransom quickly to avoid any serious impacts from the data breach.

Could the cloud protect us?

The very nature of a Cloud vendor’s services is to protect customer information. If enough money is invested, great attention to detail can be applied to make sure vulnerabilities are at their absolute minimum, with any faults addressed and patched up faster than you can make a cup of tea (not that you’d want to rush a good brew!).

Cloud staff are not only responsible for creating impenetrable data storage, but also an environment where users can access their information relatively easy whilst limiting any chances of accidental data leaks. To implement this into our hospitals, consistent data security is a must, and this includes full staff training and regulating.

Raj Samani, who holds several head positions of Intel Security, says:

“…integrated or unified security solutions that provide visibility across all of the organisation’s services could be the best defence.”

If there was a data leak, Cloud vendors will not only have their payslips to worry about. The U.K Government takes Data Protection very seriously. Our Information Commissioners Office is dedicated to investigating breaches of the Data Protection Act, and the ICO has a range of remedies to enforce compliance with Data Protection. At the moment, this includes a pecuniary fine of up to £500,000, but there are discussions of raising this into the millions.

If this isn’t incentive enough to make Cloud providers buckle up on their security, then maybe the thought of their entire business dwindling will.

By utilising a strong and secure data storage system, the NHS and other healthcare organisations will be using much less time and resources controlling embarrassing data leaks and more time doing what they’re supposed to: looking after our health.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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First published by Editor on April 13, 2017
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