February 27, 2018
The illusion of control is tempting, even intoxicating. It’s also a common characteristic that almost all humans manifest to one degree or another as we work to satisfy competence motives, the need for security, survival instincts.
Because proximity often feels like control, it might also get in the way of secure healthcare IT.
“Files stored in reliable cloud services are some of the most secure files you can have, provided you have good passwords,” says software engineer John Miller, PhD. “Google, Microsoft, and Amazon all provide reliable cloud services for consumer file storage.”
What, in particular, makes cloud storage superior, according to Miller?
Still, it’s a mistake to think that Amazon or Google can be entrusted with all security precautions. Your healthcare IT vendor is an active player in making sure your particular system is secure. When shopping vendors or considering a move to the cloud, have a conversation that includes these specific concerns:
Risk: How much risk will you be comfortable with? While you could choose to lock your system up tight, there is a tension between system security and ease of access. Find a balance between the two. In striking that balance, ask for assessment process documentation that includes establishing a risk threshold and effectively managing potential security issues related to third-party vendors.
Cloud Security Tools: It’s not wise to rely exclusively on cloud vendor security, but it is also unwise to reject any inherent security they provide. Document succinctly what is part of the cloud service and what your healthcare IT vendor layers on. Two-factor or multi-factor authentication, now widely used, may be one example of a security protocol built into the cloud vendor package.
Responsibility: It will be vital that you ask relevant and pointed questions about responsibility across all three spheres: the cloud vendor, the healthcare IT vendor and your organization. Evaluate documentation that describes what security measures come from each and how they complement one another. It’s critical that you understand whether there are any holes in the security mesh you’re looking to create.
One of the more challenging aspects of moving to the cloud for many healthcare organizations is an uncertainty about what questions to ask. Too often, hospitals and other healthcare organizations may be tempted to just say, “That’s your area of expertise. Make it work.”
It will benefit you in the long run to probe and make your healthcare IT vendor defend and quantify their security approach.
And what, at a minimum, should that approach include?
Ultimately, while cloud security makes your organization no more vulnerable to breaches than you are with an onsite data center, there are better and less good ways to approach the cloud. A hybrid model, for example, of some local servers and some cloud hosting actually creates more vulnerabilities than a strictly public cloud approach. Your goal is to have fewer, not more, access points that could be breached.
“To be fair, much of the common perception of cloud security—or insecurity as the case may be—is just myth. Pervasive myth, but myth nonetheless,” says Tony Bradley at Forbes.
And it’s a myth many organizations now benefit from having banished. So, while you’re cleaning out the closet of long-held but possible incorrect beliefs like the illusion of control, just toss cloud insecurity on the trash heap as well. When managed with the same level of care as local data centers, the cloud offers clear advantages.