Healthcare Information Security

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Optimizing health data security with cloud, virtualization

By Bill Kleyman

- New virtualization and cloud technologies are helping healthcare organizations shape their security, management, and data center environments. However, in creating a solid platform, administrators must look at the various virtualization technologies which can create and maintain efficiencies on multiple levels. Many times some of the best cloud and virtualization designs fail to take one very important aspect into consideration: the end-user. Sure, there is an understanding around the workload or what needs to be delivered. But what about truly optimizing as well as securing the computing experience of the user when the data reaches its destination?

Creating a platform with the end-user in mind is somewhat of a new, approach to creating a full on solution. Although not all encompassing, some of the following technologies and solutions can play a big role on how the end-user processes and manipulates data on their end.

Wide Area Network (WAN) optimization  WAN optimization has come a long way in helping data get from one point to another faster and with better manageability. Good WAN optimization technologies don’t only help improve data transfer – they can enhance security by giving administrators granular visibility into information traveling over the WAN. The result? A happier user and a more secure workload.

Switch and Network Quality of Service (QoS)  QoS on the Local Area Network (LAN) and WAN has been used since the technology was introduced. Prioritizing traffic based on their demand is a crucial part of keeping the right data transmitting at the right speeds. Whether its video conferencing or voice over IP (VoIP), QoS can help speed up network data transmission. Remember, visibility into how data travels not only improves delivery, but helps with security as well. Many times, a big part of user management is data loss prevention – this is especially the case in the regulated healthcare industry.

User virtualization  A relatively new technology, user virtualization basically abstracts the hardware layer from the user. This means that all user settings are transferred between operating systems, software components and end-point devices. This gives the user the freedom to know that their software settings will remain whether they’re using an iPad or a Windows-based machine.

READ MORE: How Automation, Orchestration Impact Healthcare IT Security

BYOD  Not really a technology… but certainly a new way of life. Healthcare organizations are actually creating projects with BYOD at the forefront of their thinking. The mentality now is “how can we enable our user base to use their devices and rely on us less?” This is where BYOD and efficient control mechanisms are set in place. BYOD can be a very powerful end-user performance enhancer – when properly managed of course.

Profile management  Almost every healthcare IT engineer has had to work with a profile at one point or another. With so many different systems out there, managing a user’s profile has become challenging. This is where we expand on the user virtualization conversation. By abstracting the user layer, administrators control a user’s personal settings, profile metrics and other variables within a user setup. This can stop profile corruption and create a smooth profile management system. Users enjoy having their personal backgrounds, icons in a specific spot or other elements of personalization. Granular profile control can help transfer those settings seamlessly.

Content redirection  This is all about latency control. There are no technologies out there which can help gauge latency and allow the administrators to render content either server-side or client-side. Why is this important? Because this process can be done dynamically! Creating a transparent environment for the user while still delivering high-end content will make the user happier and more apt to use the system.

Data “on-demand” – We now reside in an always-on society. There is a direct need for data to be available at all times on any device. So, how can IT administrators accommodate? Better cloud-based file sharing technologies are becoming available where there is a direct capability to tie into the corporate network for security and better delivery. There is a new need for data to travel with the user. This becomes a big challenge for healthcare organizations bound by HIPAA or other regulations.

Unable to deploy technologies such as Dropbox, healthcare administrators must look at other options to create that type of experience. Integration with security policies, AD and even mail systems is taking technologies like ShareFile or DataNow in a whole new direction. Administrators are able to create a “Dropbox-like” environment but still maintain full – on-premises – control of the data. Furthermore, they can regionalize the data and ensure that it never leaves a specific data center. For the user, the process is completely transparent; but for the healthcare administrator, there is clear visibility into how and where the data is processed.

READ MORE: Why Healthcare Network Security is a Critical Provider Tool

Creating a positive computing experience has always been a goal of the IT department. After all a happy end-user is one that won’t be calling help desk. Still, organizations are trying to continuously improve that experience with concepts like BYOD, optimization mechanisms and incorporating WAN-based technologies. The challenge for healthcare is finding the happy medium between optimal data delivery and the most secure way to manage that data. In working with technologies which can centralize data and control the delivery process – administrators are able to have granular control over their users, the information, and how data flows both into and out of the environment.

Bill Kleyman, MBA, MISM, has heavy experience in network infrastructure management. He has served as a technology consultant and taken part in large virtualization deployments while be involved in business network design and implementation. He is currently the Virtualization Architect at MTM Technologies Inc. and his prior work includes Director of Technology at World Wide Fittings Inc.

 

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