Health Data Stored in the Cloud: Is It Secure?

Cloud storage allows users to access data from a range of electronic devices. This can happen without incurring the costs and hassles of maintaining a physical storage system. Medical practices and institutions are relying on it more and more.

Questions have been raised on whether it is appropriate for medical practices to keep patient information in the cloud. This is because of cybercriminals. These cybercriminals target healthcare firms more than any other type of business. Cybercriminals believe patient personal information to be particularly lucrative to exploit.

So, how secure is cloud storage, and whether it is secure at all? The first question has a resounding “yes” as the answer. This article will explain how the cloud is secure, and provide advice on how to protect your data.

What Is the Cloud?

The term cloud describes the software and databases that run on servers that may be accessed via the Internet.

Users can access the same files and programs through the cloud from nearly any device. This is because computation and storage occur on servers in a data center rather than locally on the user device. 

There are four popular types of cloud storage:

  • Private cloud storage: Enterprise or internal cloud storage are other names for private cloud storage. In this instance, data is kept on the intranet of the business or organization.
  • Public cloud storage: With public cloud storage, the user or business is relieved of system maintenance. Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Cloud, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are some examples.
  • Hybrid cloud storage: Hybrid cloud storage gives users the security of a private cloud. It also gives users the customization of a public cloud, giving them the best of both worlds.
  • Community cloud storage: It is a variant of the private cloud storage concept. Community cloud storage provides cloud solutions for certain organizations or communities. Community cloud storage is a perfect solution for businesses in the financial, or healthcare sectors. It is mostly used for businesses with tight compliance requirements.

What Makes Cloud Data Security for Health Data Storage?

How cloud providers secure patient-protected health information must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (PHI). HIPAA rules and regulations make it possible for a breach to have severe consequences. If proven to have been irresponsible, the company risked fines and reputational harm. 

The following are what make cloud data secure:

1. Redundancy

The fact that your data gets backed up more than once is one of the biggest benefits of storing it on the cloud.

Redundancy helps ensure uploaded files are immediately duplicated onto numerous data center servers. Therefore, your data is kept in several locations with identical copies thanks to a single transfer.

This redundancy is essential for protecting the security of your data. There are still copies of your data available on another server in case one server unexpectedly dies.

2. Monitoring

The fact that cloud networks are almost always monitored contributes to the security of cloud storage. Major cloud storage providers have specialized operations centers. These operation centers have cybersecurity professionals on staff round-the-clock.

These cybersecurity professionals have the tools needed to keep intruders away. They also keep digital dangers away from their cloud storage infrastructure.

3. Encryption

In the cloud, all data is encrypted. Your data is encrypted using this encryption method before it ever leaves your device. Files are delivered to your cloud storage space via the Internet only when the encryption procedure is finished. They are maintained encrypted at rest on the servers of your cloud provider when they arrive.

No one, not even your cloud storage company, will be able to decode your files and gain access to their contents. The attacker won’t know the necessity to decrypt your files if your data is intercepted while being transferred to or from the cloud.

Tips to Help Secure Data in the Cloud

Medical practices and facilities may find cloud storage to be a useful tool. But it is important to conduct thorough due diligence on the cloud service provider before deciding to use it to store HIPAA-protected records. Ensure that you have complete faith in the service provider’s competence to protect the data.

While the majority of the work to safeguard your data is done by cloud storage providers, you too have a significant part to play. 

Here are five steps you can take to ensure the highest level of security for your cloud storage:

1. Enable two-factor authentication

Most cloud storage companies provide you with the choice to protect your account with two-factor authentication. To get into your cloud storage account, you must have both your password and a one-time verification code, which is delivered to your phone or email inbox. As a result, even if an attacker manages to crack your password, they will have difficulty accessing your account.

When you create a new cloud storage account, two-factor authentication is often disabled by default. To further protect your data, be sure to activate this setting.

2. Use a Cloud Service That Encrypts

Cloud Service

Souce: FreePik

Utilizing a cloud service that encrypts your files on your PC and in the cloud is the first line of defense against identity thieves. Service providers, their service administrators, and outside parties cannot access your private information thanks to encryption.

Make sure your data is encrypted before uploading it to the cloud or downloading it from there. You are also accountable for this. Before you upload or download your data, make sure your browser or application requires an encrypted connection. Make sure that any computers, thumb drives, and centralized storage devices that store PHI are encrypted.

3. Use Anti-Malware

Your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or any other device that uses the cloud needs to have robust antivirus and anti-malware security since the cloud transports data across the internet. These applications assist in blocking dubious downloads and URLs. Some additionally provide functions including backups, remote wiping, and device locating services.

4. Install Updates

Updates are frequently essential for ensuring the security of your computer and data. They frequently serve to correct system bugs that put you in danger. Make sure to apply all updates as soon as you can.

5. Data Backups

Use only cloud service providers who back up your data. Your information shouldn’t be kept on a single server. You won’t be able to access your data if that server goes down. Even if you save your most private information in the cloud, you may want to think about backing it up on your external hard drives. This will give you an additional degree of security in case your cloud provider suffers a setback.

Conclusion

Cloud storage is a secure storage medium for any industry including the healthcare industry. This is because maximum data protection is built into cloud storage from the ground up. Files are encrypted and constantly scanned for cybersecurity dangers when you store data in the cloud.

However, to make cloud storage secure, industries also have a part to play. Turn on two-factor authentication at all times. Also, employ any extra security tools your cloud storage provider provides.

Due to the security provided by cloud companies, cloud storage is recommended for storing health care.

 

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.