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Cybersecurity expert Mac McMillan talks health data

In a podcast recorded at the AHIMA convention, security expert Mac McMillan says that data in the cloud can be made safe with proper precautions.

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Mac McMillan, chairman, CEO and co-founder of CynergisTek Inc. and a Marine Corps veteran and former director of security for two Department of Defense agencies, sat down with SearchHealthIT at the American Health Information Management Association Convention and Exhibit in San Diego to record this podcast.

Among other things, McMillan says personal health data and other private information in medical records can be just as safe in the cloud as in proprietary server environments if users take the right precautions.

Such critical data security measures include encryption and two-step authentication, McMillan says.

McMillan offers some advice to CIOs looking to make their organizations' data more secure in the cloud and elsewhere, including making sure the data is safe before even entrusting it to someone else.

And, in a timely dovetail with the nationwide campaign by federal officials and private health IT industry leaders for interoperability standards, McMillan says making healthcare systems and the data in them more interoperable and exchangeable actually will make the information more secure. Why? Because standards promote reliability and expectations of security, and disorganized archipelagos of health IT data are chaotic and more likely to lead to breaches, whether intentional or not.

And, yes, this cybersecurity guru confirms, the ransomware threat is real and is prevalent right now in healthcare systems, as it is in other industries. One lesson to thwart cyber-extortionists who are operating from bases in Russia and other hiding spots around the world, is to back up your data, McMillan strongly advises.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writer or contact @SSutner on Twitter.

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