GHF: Blockchain, Cybersecurity and health professions

Blockchain for Global Health 

There is increased worry regarding the security of  privacy in healthcare, specifically regarding patient records and genomic data, which has been highlighted by the increased number of cybersecurity attacks on hospitals. Prof. Jean-Pierre Hubaux introduced the concept of security as "the rightful access to data, ensuring access control, availability, audibility and accountability", whereas privacy was defined as the "rightful use of data following legal imperatives and expressed wishes of the data owner".  Extremely simplified, there are two different types of encryption - namely symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption, the former can use the same key to encrypt and decrypt plaintext and cipher text, respectively, whilst with the latter form on encryption, only the recipient can decrypt the cipher-text back into plain text using a secret key. An emerging concept in blockchain is that of differential privacy, which quantifies the amount of information that is leaked.

 

Cybersecurity and the health system: What risks for patients? 

Cyberattacks are more common that thought, since starting the panel at 9am , General Director of HUG -  Bertrand Levrat,  points out that HUG - UNIGE will most likely have  fought off over 700 attacks since then. There is ongoing conflict of having data from medical devices secure and safe, but then also ensuring accessibility to health professions when needed. A lot of the debate comes down to this, risk. There is risk in sharing information, risking the confidentiality in the data that we are sharing, and loss of anonymously  sharing data.  It is also important to realise that cybersecurity attacks are not confined to data, but also medical devices. Discussion calls for securer platforms, national guidelines and regulations - all focused on how to better safeguard and protect data.

 

Written by Nefti-Eboni Bempong