Tag: Health information

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De-identification of Data and Privacy
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The co-existence of open data and privacy in a digital world
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Malware attacks a Melbourne hospital’s outdated IT system

De-identification of Data and Privacy

By Cameron Abbott, Keely O’Dowd, Giles Whittaker and Harry Crawford

As promised in a previous blog post, K&L Gates have performed an in-depth analysis of the risks of relying on de-identification of data to protect privacy, in the wake of researchers successfully re-identifying de-identified medical data that was released by the Australian Department of Health in 2016.

Read the article on the K&L Gates HUB here.

The co-existence of open data and privacy in a digital world

By Cameron Abbott, Keely O’Dowd and Giles Whittaker

Earlier this week researchers from the University of Melbourne released a report on the successful re-identification of Australian patient medical data that formed part of a de-identified open dataset.

In September 2016, the researchers were able to re-identify the longitudinal medical billing records of 10% of Australians, which equates to about 2.9 million people. The report outlines the techniques the researches used to re-identify the data and the ease at which this can be done with the right know-how and skill set (ie someone with an undergraduate computing degree could re-identify the data).

At first glance, the report exposes the poor handling of the dataset by the Department of Health. Which brings into focus the need for adequate contractual obligations regarding use and handling of personal information, and the need to ensure adequate liability protections are addressed even where the party’s intentions are for all personal information to be de-identified. The commercial risk with de-identified data has shown to be the equivalent of a dormant volcano.

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Malware attacks a Melbourne hospital’s outdated IT system

By Cameron Abbott and Meg Aitken

Don’t say we (and Microsoft) didn’t warn you, a prominent Melbourne hospital’s IT system that runs on an outdated and unsupported Windows operating system, Microsoft XP, was hacked last week.

Microsoft recently activated the end-of-life phase for Windows 8, 9 and 10 and encouraged users to transition to the company’s supported operating systems in order to prevent security incidents. The same process was undertaken for Microsoft XP in 2014; however the hospital continued to use the platform in some departments.

The pathology department was the primary victim of the attack and staff were reportedly forced to manually process blood tissue and urine samples while the electronic system was compromised. Fortunately, highly sensitive patient information is not believed to have been accessed by the hackers.

It has been reported that the hospital is now expediting plans to upgrade its IT systems.

Access the media release here.

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