Keeping Patient Information Secure in the IoT Era


About 26 billion devices are expected to make up the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020 and 40% of the IoT market will be related to healthcare according to Gartner Research. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that healthcare is as much a data-driven environment as it is a human one. And in healthcare the impact of the IoT is already enormous and far-reaching.

The IoT, described by Gartner, “is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.” In simple terms, the IoT is billions of devices that connect with the Internet or other devices and share data wirelessly without human intervention.

In healthcare, the number of IoT applications is seemingly endless and it is changing both the way healthcare is delivered and patient outcomes. No longer are patients necessarily required to make a trip to a hospital for routine tests when there’s a machine or wearable device that can monitor their glucose levels, blood pressure or heart rates and then wirelessly transmit this data to healthcare providers or other devices for analysis. And this is just one example.

Among the many benefits the IoT makes possible is ability for healthcare providers to make faster, more accurate diagnoses, which can lead to more rapid response and better care for patients. With the ability to access, analyze and share information so easily, it’s not difficult to see the enormous positive impact of the IoT .

What’s more, the IoT is growing much more swiftly than the rate of other connected devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs. By 2020, according to Gartner, IoT devices will reach about 26 billion versus 7.3 billion devices like smartphones and computers.

The proliferation of data from IoT connected devices and smartphones and the tsunami of patient data living in electronic health records and electronic medical records also bring enormous risks related to security and privacy. These risks, along with a concerned public that is more data-savvy than ever and legislation that requires patient information to be protected, are propelling healthcare organizations to take security seriously. IoT security, however, adds an entirely new layer of complexity to the mix.

The good news is that the same encryption, data loss prevention (DLP) and data control technologies that help secure and protect email communications are now playing an increasingly important role in the IoT realm. These security features can be extended to IoT device software to protect and control data.

Cirius, for example, seamlessly integrates with other IT systems and architecture through a REST-based application programming interface (API). For the most part these API integrations are with third-party billing and provisioning, DLP, electronic medical record (EMR) and archiving systems. Cirius’ API however is published and documented in a full software development kit (SDK), which means the possibilities are endless.

As the IoT continues to advance and mature, so will the number of security solutions designed to protect all the associated devices and data. At least two things are certain: it is an exiting time for all of us in the security business and IoT opportunities abound.