Hacking Threats and Protective Security
The 1998 Data Protection Act was not an extension to, but rather a replacement which retains the existing provisions of the data protection system established by the 1984 legislation. The Act was to come into force from 24 October 1998 but was delayed until 1st March 2000.
In addition to data, manual records were to be brought within the terms of the new data protection system, thus allowing subject access rights to access to such records.
Due to the allowances made for existing institutions to be brought into compliance with the new legislation, manual data processing that began before 24 October 1998 was to comply with the new subject access accommodations of the Act until 2001.
Now 4 years later there are still unresolved issues such as the security threats presented by computerisation, these can be broadly divided into 3 broad categories:
The following details the results of the threat analysis. If a computer system was setup to mimic the current running of the health practice the following considerations should be understood:
Assets To Be Protected:
Data: Programs and data held in primary (random access and read only memory) and secondary (magnetic) storage media.
Hardware: Microprocessors, communications links, routers, and primary / secondary storage media.
 Have unlimited access to the system thus the data.
 Be able to bypass the system protection mechanisms.
 Commit their passwords for your system to a book, or loose notes.
 A tendency to use common passwords on all systems they create, so that a breach on one system may extend to others.
The data subject:
 If copies have to be made, this will normally be by clerical staff who would not normally have such rights themselves.
 The copies may go astray whilst being made available.
 Verification of the identity of the data subject becomes very important.
This is a critical security risk as it allows basic acts of fraud to be committed, such as, bogus data entry (entering additional unauthorised information).
Importance Of Good Security:
One or more devious, vandalising, crackers may damage a computer system and / or data, such damage could have serious consequences other than those of the subsequent violation of the seventh data protection principle that may jeopardize the organisation. For example:
Loss of information:Which can cost money to recreate.
False information:With possible legal action taken.
Bad management:Due to incorrect information.
Principles Of Computer Security:
Although this scenario does not yet apply to the health industry inasmuch as the public are not yet the end users of the system, such social impressions must be considered:
This leads us to the question: if life with computers is so wonderous, how do you leave it? Simply flip a switch and everything will shut down and you can explore the marvels of the oustide world. Computers are only tools and, just like an electric screwdriver, computers can save time and effort without taking anything away from you. All you have to decide is when you want to use a computer and when you don't, you're still in complete control of your life.
Principles Of Inference:
This must be linked to the proposition that, in the last 10 years or so more information has been stored about individuals than in all of previous history, and, because of computerisation, all of that information is capable of being pulled together from the different organisations (banks, stores, state, etc) which hold it.
Right To Privacy:
For this reason, a right to privacy of that information has been set into the data protection legislation, and, it is only such legislation that prevents complete dossiers from being compiled on any given individual.
Health professionals are exempted from the need for prior approval before processing personal information, for example, as it is clear the health of the individual overrides the individual's right to privacy, and the consent can be taken for granted.
This does not prevent health professionals from having the full burden of protecting that information from unauthorised access, specifically due to the higher obligations placed on them by the Hippocratic oath which states that a member of the medical profession should respect the secrets which are confided them, even after the patient has died.
However, as can be seen from the exemptions and exceptions, a difficult balance has to be achieved between the right to privacy, and the needs of the individual (and/or the organisation).
In the case of the any entity or practice, the data subject's rights to the protection of the data that relates to them creates a conflict of interests between them and the practice inasmuch the complex security system needed for this requires extra administration and the navigation of a complex system every time data is need may place extra stress on the staff, both things the management may wish to avoid.
© I am the website administrator of the Wandle industrial museum (http://www.wandle.org). Established in 1983 by local people to ensure that the history of the valley was no longer neglected but enhanced awareness its heritage for the use and benefits of the community.
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