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HC3 Highlights Privacy and Security Risks Associated with Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry. While there are many potential benefits, these technologies can introduce risks that could threaten patient privacy and safety. If vulnerabilities are not properly addressed, they could be exploited by malicious actors to gain access to sensitive patient data or internal networks, which could threaten patient safety.

The Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) has drawn attention to some of the most beneficial emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionize clinical research, the monitoring and delivery of care, communication, data analysis, and data protection, and has highlighted some of the risks associated with these technologies.

Artificial intelligence systems can rapidly analyze big data, provide deeper patient insights, and accurately diagnose medical conditions from medical images and data far more quickly than humans, accelerating clinical decisions. While the uses of AI in healthcare are numerous, these systems can introduce risks.

AI systems need access to large amounts of data in order to learn, but there are concerns around patient privacy and the security of that data. The data sent to these systems must be protected at rest and in motion through end-to-end encryption and robust access controls must be in place. AI systems could potentially allow the re-identification of patients from de-identified data, such as if de-identified data is combined with data from other sources.

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5G cellular networks are around 10 to 100 times faster than regular cellular communications and there are many possible uses in healthcare, with the low latency expected to make telesurgery possible. 5G networks will support a much more extensive range of wearable and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices. As with IoT, there are security threats that must be mitigated. Data transmitted via 5G networks must be properly secured, 5G devices must authenticate before connecting to networks, and any data stored on the IoMT devices must be secured with whole disk encryption. HC3 has highlighted the importance of having a Cybersecurity Bill of Materials to allow healthcare organizations to accurately assess the security of devices.

Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of diseases through the delivery of drugs to specific cells. The technology could improve diagnostic imaging, and there is considerable potential for the provision of highly personalized medicine. There is concern however about the potential for malicious actors to “hack humans,” in bioterrorist attacks, nanodevices could be taken out of action in denial-of-service attacks, and ransomware could be used to disrupt nanotechnology systems, with potentially fatal consequences.

These and other emerging technologies can all greatly benefit the healthcare industry and have the potential to improve patient outcomes and lower costs, but all risks associated with these technologies must be carefully assessed and managed to ensure that vulnerabilities cannot be exploited and patient privacy and safety are not put at risk.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.