Protecting Confidential Patient Information with Oracle Transparent Data Encryption

Among some industry commentators, 2015 has been referred to as the “year of the security breach.”

That year, dozens of high profile digital security breaches at healthcare facilities underscored the importance of keeping sensitive patient data protected. As any health professional knows, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is of the utmost importance. HIPAA violations can incur steep fines, and the added HIPAA Security Rule mandates that electronic health record (EHR) data remains fully protected.

When regulatory compliance is at stake– along with the safety and privacy of people’s confidential information — it’s crucial for health facilities to invest in the right software for secure database encryption. Oracle Advanced Security offers transparent data encryption (TDE), a highly secure approach to database encryption. For hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare facilities, TDE is strongly recommended for keeping HIPAA-sensitive data safe and secure.

What Is Transparent Data Encryption?

Transparent data encryption stops malicious parties from bypassing the database itself and reading the information directly from storage.

While authenticated users can still access the database as needed without the need for any configuration changes– hence the term “transparent”– anyone who circumvents the database and tries to read the information from disks or backups will be denied access to clear, decipherable data.

Transparent data encryption supports two different modes: tablespace encryption and column encryption. TDE tablespace encryption is suitable for entire application tables, while TDE column encryption is ideal for information like credit card numbers and social security numbers.

Oracle Advanced Security’s TDE uses a two-tier key management architecture. These encryption keys are used together with an encryption algorithm to prevent outside parties from successfully accessing sensitive information contained in the database. The TDE master key is stored in the Oracle Wallet, which is a special “container” used for authentication, sign-in credentials, the master key, certificates, and SSL. During initial configuration, the software randomly generates the TDE master key, using a pseudo-random number generator. The Wallet itself needs to be backed up both onsite and offsite for maximum security.

Transparent data encryption conducts its cryptographic operations at very high speeds, minimizing the overhead associated with implementing TDE as a database security measure. Very large tables containing billions of rows can be successfully encrypted in as little as a few hours.

Protecting Patient Data using Encryption

The average total cost of a healthcare data breach can exceed $5 million, and malicious attackers are increasingly targeting healthcare facilities.

In 2015 alone, over 112 million patient health records were compromised nationwide. Oracle Advanced Security with Transparent Data Encryption offers a crucial layer of added security, making it nearly impossible for any unauthorized parties to access sensitive EHR data. For that reason, Oracle’s TDE offerings come highly recommended for any organization in the healthcare industry.

To consult your data protection experts, contact Cornerstone!  We provide healthcare IT consulting services and Oracle database consulting services in Atlanta, Chicago, and Texas!

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