With our ever increasingly networked world, where prompt access to our medical conditions could be a matter of life and death when emergency intervention is needed, there is the associated downside of unauthorised access to medical computer systems and devices - including implanted devices like defibrillators and infusion pumps. For most of us, our concern is most likely related to our status of having an incurable blood cancer becoming public and hence available to employers, business contacts and so on. Recently there has also been an increase in ransom-ware attacks, where access to medical records is denied to those providing medical care as was reported in Australia last month (see below). The Gold Coast Medical Centre involved went public, but how many businesses keep such events quiet?
What can you do personally?
1) Be mindful of what you divulge and to whom. (This naturally includes the information you enter in your Profile and in the Data Sharing settings for this site and other on-line forums.)
2) If you keep any records on your personal IT devices (computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc) consider encrypting your records and make sure your devices have effective security programs installed and kept up to date. Be very wary of what programs and apps you install - some of them install other programs by default which can report back information you may not want disclosed and many apps unnecessary gain access to personal information on your phone.
3) You may wish to get involved in raising security concerns with your government so that legislation is appropriate to the threat and public programs to put your medical records on line are appropriately governed and that effective security is enforced.
The above only lightly touches on the security risks associated with our increasingly networked world to encourage you to think about the risk/reward trade-offs. It is an old truism that the only secure computer is one that is locked away in a secure, shielded room with no network connections, no CD/DVD drives, no ports for plugging in flash drives, etc. Trouble is, that secure computer isn't much use...