Information Governance : Encryption Still Being Missed

Data loss continues to be a recurring problem throughout the health sector with the lack of encryption technology use at the heart of it.

Despite David Nicholson, the NHS’ chief executive, mandating that encryption be applied as a default data security mechanism across all health sector authorities, incidences of missing and compromised records continue to make headlines.

The process of encryption involves the transformation of information, using an algorithm, to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing the necessary knowledge – usually referred to as passwords or keys.

With the NHS dealing in millions of confidential public records it would not be wrong to envisage the use of encryption technology to safeguard patient data as a ‘no-brainer’.

If back-up tapes or mobile devices do go missing (unfortunately an everyday occurrence in the industry), at least the specific health organisation to which they belong can rest assured that only they possess the relevant ‘knowledge’ to view the contents, therefore leaving the contained data safe to an extent.