Despite the push towards data security and information governance, data breaches can occur where you least expect them. Though encryption software and more secure firewalls have shown success at preventing internal data breaches, another threat is looming on the data security landscape: “visual hacking.”
Visual hacking involves capturing confidential information from digital screens by using smartphones, discrete cameras, or plain sight. Compared to complex coding backdoors and malware infection, visual hacking is relatively low-tech, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a concern for healthcare organizations tasked with controlling sensitive data.
Imagine the opportunities for visual hacking present in locations as basic as healthcare clinics. Offenders can snap photos of your information as you fill out your medical record, eavesdrop on your conversation with staff, and once they enter the actual clinic, use silent, high-powered zoom cameras to discretely record any instances of unsecured patient data. With just a few clicks of a button, healthcare organizations can suffer data breaches that may cost them millions.
Though protecting confidential data from prying eyes has always been a concern in the healthcare field, new mobile camera technology is giving offenders more tools than ever before. A 3M sponsored hacking experiment with the Ponemon Institute found that a white hat hacker could visually hack sensitive information in 88 percent of attempts.
3M’s campaign against data loss helps IT and security professionals better address their security vulnerabilities. According to Gartner, IT security spend reached $75.4 billion in 2015, but this increase in security funding will do little to prevent the rise of low-tech hacking methods.
Preventing Visual Hacking
Healthcare providers must try to prevent data loss from visual hacking:
- Using applications to mask high-risk data, particularly when accessing data from mobile and public locations.
- Creating a corporate culture of security that prioritizes visual security—all staff must know of the growth of visual hacking and why all data must be stored behind authentication or privacy filters.
- Limiting logins to necessary locations will help prevent the number of access points where data breaches may occur.
There’s no simple strategy to fight visual hacking, but healthcare organizations that understand the risks and challenges associated with visually securing private data are one step ahead in the game. Data security across all channels is an ongoing struggle that healthcare providers must be prepared to face.
Written by Desh Urs
Desh Urs brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial, start-up and Global 500 corporate experience in sales, marketing, and general management to the customers of iBridge. He has led sales organizations as SVP at Qsent, Inc. and VP at Acxiom Corporation, and has focused on the usage of data in data distribution, direct marketing, fraud prevention, and law enforcement.
As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decisions Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.
Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.