The nexus between network security and consumer privacy increasingly is seen in measures that health care organizations are taking to comply with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Systems deployed to meet HIPAAs privacy deadline in April this year will also help achieve compliance with a security deadline in April, 2005.
At Childrens Hospital in Boston, the IT department this year implemented an integrated system of password management and user provisioning that meets HIPAAs privacy goals without creating obstacles to the staffs access to data, said Scott Ogawa, chief technology officer at the hospital.
“We were stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Ogawa said Tuesday at the Inside ID conference at the Washington, D.C. convention center. “Our job is not to stand in the way of the care-giving process. Clinicians demand immediate access to their data.”
One of the greatest challenges the hospital faced was securing the network password system, which, according to Ogawa, presents one of the top ten threats to security. Easy-to-guess passwords are all too common, he said.
“It would probably shock you, but before HIPAA, youd walk around in ICU and you would see several Post-It notes [with passwords] on each of the monitors,” he said, adding that resetting passwords cost the hospital $160,000 per year, and employees who forgot passwords could face long delays before regaining access to the network.
The integrated password management and user provisioning system not only improved security, but it also improved access to data, Ogawa said. Password reset calls dropped by 80 percent, and the hospital is saving $207,000 per year.
Enterprise ID management poses
challenges for privacy”>
Enterprise identity management for public-facing systems can be more complicated, and the growing pool of users alone creates new challenges for privacy, said Paula Arcioni, identity management services manager at the N.J. Office of Information Technology.
Most of the services provided by the New Jersey government—the equivalent of a $25 billion enterprise—are not available online. For the services that are online, New Jersey provides single sign-on anonymous access, maintaining minimal user information, Arcioni said. The system logs a users IP address, host name and the server accessed, but it does not require real names. This system is not practical for many enterprise-level online activities, however.
“Anonymous access is not easily achievable in your typical high-value transaction,” she said.
Large organizations in all sectors increasingly are examining new systems of network and plant access. By 2006, a third of all Fortune 500 companies plan to use smart cards, according to smart card maker Gemplus International S.A. In a survey of 69 Fortune 500 senior executives, Gemplus found that 30 percent of the companies are either testing or using smart cards today.
The Gemplus U.S. Corporate Security Systems Study, conducted by Frost & Sullivan, indicated that large companies increasingly are interested in issuing a single token for physical and logical security.
Coinciding with the survey results, Gemplus announced a reseller agreement with smart card management technology designer Bell ID. The two companies plan to help governments and large corporations issue smart cards to employees. Organizations will be able to centrally manage large numbers of cards that can be used for numerous functions, including PC log-on, building access, digital signature and even vending machine use.
Gemplus is based in Luxembuourg, and its U.S. headquarters is in Horsham, Pa.