Dr Arran Schlosberg

What’s the research –
Use of genomics data in day-to-day clinical practice is still in its infancy but the level of attention and investment is growing. This paper provides describes in technical terms, insights for the way in which genomics laboratories may apply data security measures that maintains data integrity, protection, storage and safe transfer.

Why it’s important –
Generally, data security is often a secondary endeavour for laboratories and hospitals. Security is described as a “weakest-link” problem. If we thought electronic medical records generated volumes of data, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Genomics and next-generation sequencing (NGS) will increase this volume exponentially. Our current safeguards in Australian healthcare are the privacy and retention period legislation.

So are the legislation and best practice security measures of today up to scratch and likely to serve us in the longer term? Will they be sufficient to minimise risk of unauthorised access or attack, inside the retention periods stipulated by our privacy legislation? A risk analysis of various methods is discussed.

What have we learned –
Despite all efforts to protect sensitive patient data, new security vulnerabilities are discovered on a regular basis. An increasingly digital health environment favours those who are intent on committing cyber crime where the data reward can be set very high. With every copy of data that is created, a new and potentially weak link in the chain of data protection is produced. Data protection frameworks need to be reviewed in light of new information about threats and system vulnerabilities. For those working on ‘interoperability’ of systems– common protocols are needed.

Who should read this paper –
Data custodians and those whose function it is to technically protect electronic data. At the bare minimum, a level of awareness for everyone participating in, or affected by, the diagnostic-genomics landscape– because if nothing else– we should be able to ask some questions about the robustness of data protection measures in the healthcare services in which we work.

To read the entire journal article, click here.

Want to tweet this?
Just highlight the following and click the twitter icon:

Today’s best practice may be the source of vulnerabilities tomorrow.