Feeds

Info-scrubbing algorithm unveiled to protect patient privacy

Medical data without the secrets

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

US researchers have devised a novel way to protect the privacy of patients whose medical histories are included in public databases and electronic medial records, according to news reports.

The method, which was unveiled Monday by researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, masks parts of a patient's records that aren't relevant to a particular inquiry. By generalizing vast amounts of clinical information, patients remain anonymous while still supplying researchers with data that's relevant to a specific project or topic.

The information-scrubbing algorithm has so far withstood simulated attempts to identify the individuals using data belonging to more than 2,600 patients. The mock hack assumed the would-be attackers knew the patient's identity and some or all of the patient's itemized medical history.

"There is definitely a need to de-identify individuals," Nils Homer of the University of California at Los Angeles, told Science News. He was part of a team that demonstrated two years ago that it was possible to trace a genetic signature back to the individual even when the patient's DNA profile was buried in a pool of thousands.

The finding prompted National Institutes of Health to restrict access to genetic databases.

The abstract to full article, Anonymization of electronic medical records for validating genome-wide association studies, is here. Additional coverage is here. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.