Like many other industries around the world, healthcare has experienced skyrocketing demand for mobile technology during the past several years. Physicians, surgeons and insurance providers, to name a few, are all leveraging smartphones, tablets and mobile applications to improve patient care and increase the efficiency of processes with the sector.
But this trend certainly isn't without its caveats. Most significant may be the level of data security risk that the increased use of mobile technology presents in healthcare.
According to a recent survey conducted by GovernmentHealthIT and sponsored by federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, the number of healthcare-related data breaches spiked 97 percent between 2010 and 2011 – about the time that mobile device use really took off within the sector.
"With the rapid adoption of new mobile technologies, such as the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, organizations face new challenges and risks, as their networks add more access points," Booz Allen principal Ilene Yarnoff said. "A holistic risk management approach, rather than ad hoc process changes, is needed to meet today’s security requirements."
And the rise of healthcare mobility isn't expected to reverse anytime soon, as 80 percent of respondents told researchers that devices will become more important to their businesses during the next five years.
A separate poll recently conducted by Aruba Networks produced similar findings. The survey, which included 130 healthcare IT professionals, showed that 85 percent said their organizations support personally owned devices.
Eighty-three percent of respondents said their companies support the iPad, 65 percent indicated support for the iPhone or iPod Touch, 52 percent cited BlackBerry devices and 46 percent highlighted support for Android-powered tablets and smartphones.
To protect themselves, healthcare organizations are encouraged to make data security a priority when leveraging mobile devices, according to the GovernmentHealthIT and Booz Allen report.
"Until ubiquitous, interoperable, secure industry standards and protocols are approved and widely adopted on the technology side, organizations will need to implement their own security solutions that will allow them to operate securely within their enterprises," Booz Allen senior vice president Natalie Givans said.
Enterprise users aren't alone in recognizing the benefits of mobile devices, as cybercriminals have also taken note of their popularity and are developing attacks accordingly. The latest Mobile Threat Report from Juniper Research revealed that cyberattacks targeting Android-based devices alone skyrocketed 3,325 percent during the final seven months of 2011.
Consumerization News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro