How to Evaluate the Data Security Capabilities of Cloud-Based Services

Executive Summary

One of the critical issues in evaluating cloud- based services is data security. Cloud-based services today can be compared to Internet banking. Consumers were initially afraid that online banking would make them more vulnerable to fraud or identity theft. Now that online security technologies have improved, online banking is actually safer than getting paper statements in the mail.

Likewise, using a cloud-based service supplier instead of operating your own internal system can be a major step toward becoming liberated from serious security issues. However, you must choose your provider wisely. Suppliers must demonstrate that they have the optimal technologies, infrastructures and processes in place to ensure data security. And each healthcare facility needs to require evidence that patient data is protected at all levels and stages of the workflow – from duplicate disaster recovery copies and physical protection of the data center to data transmission, storage, and user access.

It’s important to understand the four key components of data security: availability, integrity, confidentiality, and traceability. Data availability ensures continuous access to data even in the event of a natural or man-made disaster or events such as fires or power outages. Data integrity ensures that the data is maintained in its original state and has not been intentionally or accidentally altered. Data confidentiality means information is available or disclosed only to authorized individuals, entities, or IT processes. And data traceability means that the data, transactions, communications, or documents are genuine and that both parties involved are who they claim to be.

All components of data security must be maintained at the following three levels:

  1. The physical infrastructure of the data center;
  2. The hosted application that manages data; and
  3. The policies and procedures to maintain continuous security in the cloud.

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