Feeds

Info-scrubbing algorithm unveiled to protect patient privacy

Medical data without the secrets

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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.