Data Hygiene in the Healthcare

By: Arieanna Schweber | 6/3/2015

David Blumenthal and Deven McGraw recently wrote an editorial article for The Journal of the American Medical Association on Keeping Personal Health Information Safe: The Importance of Good Data Hygiene. The article re-enforces what many security experts are saying, and what we also advocate here at Absolute, that most data breaches result from mundane problems: from poor “data hygiene,” if you will.

“Although malicious hacking gets the most media attention, more than 80% of data breaches result from a much more mundane and correctable problem: the failure of covered entities to observe what might be called good data hygiene,” notes the article.

We talked earlier this month about the basics of “cyberhygiene,” and this article calls for the same basic precautions such as encryption, restricting the storage of personal information on personal devices (which are vulnerable to loss or theft), and properly authenticating users. New research shows that why cyberattacks are on the rise, “people” are often still at fault, with 90% of incidents tied back to mistakes, phishing, bad behaviour or lost stuff. These “people” issues can be minimized through better training and education, supported by appropriate processes and technology.

The article talks about the dual responsibility of those who hold healthcare data, as well as policy makers, moving beyond the bounds of HIPAA to more fully understand where and how healthcare data is used in the digital world.

The article puts forth some challenges to improve policy from a public standpoint, but from a private standpoint, healthcare organizations can do their part to push forward security standards. When it comes to data security, a holistic approach involving people, processes and technology can go a long way to shoring up vulnerabilities. At Absolute Software, we want to support your organization with technology solutions to make data protection easy. Solutions such as the persistent ability to monitor encryption status on the endpoint with Absolute DDS, are just some of the ways we can help. Learn more at

Financial Services