From Pine View Farm

Health (Records) Check 0

My local rag has a long and fairly level-headed article about the security of your computerized health records and related identification information. A nugget, chosen to illustrate the level-headedness:

In 2009, the federal government started tracking breaches of personal health information more closely, requiring organizations to report those that posed a significant risk of harm. Now, breaches affecting 500 or more people are posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

The number has dropped each year since 2010, said Chris Hourihan, principal research analyst at the Health Information Trust Alliance. However, it’s not yet clear whether that’s because security is improving or because organizations changed their conception of what constituted a significant risk of harm. Starting this year, all breaches are considered potentially harmful and must be reported unless proved otherwise.

Notice the lack of the “OMG we are all going to die!” that is typical of such reports, a lack of the hysteria that keeps Dick Destiny busy over at his place.

Follow the link, check it out.

It includes a list of things you, as opposed to healthcare providers (who must police their own stuff), can do to help protect yourself; most of them are fairly standard stuff that anyone who pays attention to computer security is already doing, such as

  • Don’t open attachments from unknown emailers,
  • Keep an eye on your credit card statement, bank accounts, and credit reports,
  • Be cautious in deciding to enter information in forms at websites, and so on.

The only hint that I would question is the one to use a “virtual private network” (VPN) when connecting to the internet when away from home (for example, at a coffee shop or library with open wireless).

Since most persons likely don’t know what a VPN is, let alone how to set one up on the fly, I would have suggested “Don’t use open wifi for email or confidential business–just don’t–unless you can use a VPN.”


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