Is the Cloud Safe for Healthcare Information?

Over the years, breaches of the healthcare industry have made major headlines. And with the amounts of sensitive information healthcare facilities are required to keep safe, this can be a daunting task. That's where many turn to cloud solutions. But some are hesitant. Is the cloud truly a safe place for your customers' sensitive information? 

Why are cyber attackers interested in healthcare information?

2022 was a big year for healthcare breaches. On trend with the amassed abilities of hackers, healthcare data is still  at risk.

Nearly 93% of healthcare organizations have experienced a data breach in the past three years according to Herjavec Group’s 2022-2022 Healthcare Cybersecurity Report and 57% have had more than five data breaches during the same timeframe. 

Unfortunately, this industry garner the most sensitive personal information, oftentimes even including social security information. This makes them a target for most every cyber attacker simply for access alone. It's a one-stop-shop for everything you need to hack into not only other medical centers, but personal identities as well. 

Post 2020, the World Economic Forum announced that healthcare cyber attacks are up and the overall healthcare industry is struggling to keep up. Cyberthreats are changing and without adaptation, your clinic could be at risk. 

Attackers can gain access into a provider’s infrastructure in a number of ways, including via malware, brute force attacking, or social engineering to get login credentials. With all the tools cyber criminals can leverage to get into a healthcare organization’s systems, many providers are wondering, Is it safer to store patient's information in the cloud or should it remain on-premise?

Healthcare Is safe with Cloud Services

There can be a feeling of a catch-22 when it comes to storing information in the cloud. If you leave your data in a traditional environment, hackers only have to hack into one system in order to have your information. On the other hand, having it in the cloud raises concerns of creating a Mecca to sensitive patient information. 

An article in Security 100 Summits explains it like this: “A highly secure cloud-based data storage translates to a safer environment, an organized and efficient safety and security operations infrastructure, improved communication among team members, the ability to efficiently meet compliance regulations, and a direct, immediate connection with first responders in the event of an emergency.”

Cloud-based technology suffered major press issues in past years, but as a model for enterprise IT, it provides a flexible and, most importantly, secure cloud solution that addresses the weaknesses of a traditional infrastructure. An encrypted cloud maintained by an experienced provider can give healthcare providers the protection they need.

How Does the Cloud Protect Healthcare Data?

  • Cloud providers must meet their contractual Service Level Agreements or they cannot provide their services.
    An enterprise IT solutions provider offers each client a contract that spells out a service level agreement (SLA). SLA’s are a provider’s contractual promise to the client to ensure the protection, uptime, and availability of their data. Within the realm of healthcare, this means that the responsibility of guarding your patient’s data is being delegated to an experienced, 24/7 team of IT professionals, devoted exclusively to the task of maintaining the cloud. Centre Technologies recommends if you aren't using our services (which adhere to a strict SLA) ask your provider to give you and go over with you their record of their SLA guidelines. That way you can understand how they are keeping themselves accountable for their services. 
  • Cloud encryption is hard, almost impossible, for hackers to crack.
    Most data breaches occur when a cybercriminal successfully breaks into on-premise, traditional infrastructure. The target is usually the business's on-premise storage. Moving and storing critical data to the cloud is ideal because of the cloud’s heavy encryption protocols. Cloud services offered through Microsoft Azure are a great option when considering the most secure encryption for your data. 
  • Cloud environments are readily available, even during a disaster.
    If a blackout or natural disaster hits a medical establishment, healthcare providers wonder, “What happened to the data? How do we chart? How do we check patients in?” Thankfully, increasing workplace mobility in healthcare means that nurses and physicians may not be chained to desktops. Even during a disaster or blackout, a healthcare professional can still access the patient’s data from the cloud through another secure device. The IT department should have protocols and portals in place to let the organization leverage this tool. We recommend and practice having 3 copies of your data across 2 locations with 1 offsite or locked. That way if you need your information EVER, you have multiple ways to back it up if something is lost.  
  • Cloud backup data is also secured.
    Having a backup solution is technically “disaster recovery 101.” However, healthcare providers are under additional scrutiny to ensure that their cloud backup provider meets HIPAA compliance. Solutions like cloud-based backup and disaster recovery (BDR) provides military-grade encryption for your healthcare industry and protects documents for data both in-flight and at-rest.


The Future of Cloud and Healthcare

Ultimately it's your decision whether or not your locate your data on-premise or in the cloud. You should feel comfortable with your choice, understanding that you can feel confident whichever you decide to deploy. But the healthcare industry is making moves. They're headed to the cloud and many are seeing more benefits like cost and scalability completely innovating the way they're able to provide for their patients. 

In the end, we want that for you, too. A healthcare organization’s success with the cloud is the IT solutions provider they chose to partner with. Make the right choice the first time: contact Centre Technologies to learn more about our HIPAA compliant hosted services and cloud backup solutions.

Originally published on June 13, 2023

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About the Author

Emily Kirk Emily Kirk

Creative content writer and producer for Centre Technologies. I joined Centre after 5 years in Education where I fostered my great love for making learning easier for everyone. While my background may not be in IT, I am driven to engage with others and build lasting relationships on multiple fronts. My greatest passions are helping and showing others that with commitment and a little spark, you can understand foundational concepts and grasp complex ideas no matter their application (because I get to do it every day!). I am a lifelong learner with a genuine zeal to educate, inspire, and motivate all I engage with. I value transparency and community so lean in with me—it’s a good day to start learning something new! Learn more about Emily Kirk »

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