Data Storage: The Basics and How to Keep Your Data Safe

Data storage describes the method in which companies house their data. Data storage is not just about where your data sits on a network – it’s also about how that data is secured, managed and accessed.

There are a number of different types of storage used by businesses, depending on their data and security requirements. There are two main factors to consider when it comes to data storage – location and format. If your data is sitting on your own servers, it’s said to be on-premises. If your data is being stored off-premises, it is usually in the cloud.

Before using any data storage options, you can check here whether or not your equipment can take the storage and computing requirements of your preferred option.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is the most common form of data storage these days, and for good reason. From a business perspective, cloud storage is appealing because you don’t have to manage the hardware. This means you don’t have to invest in a new server room, buy expensive hardware, or hire new employees to manage it.

All you have to do is sign up with a provider, purchase some storage space, and upload your data.

From a technical perspective, cloud storage is appealing because it’s scalable. If your company grows, you can easily add more storage space so you don’t run out.

If your company shrinks, you can switch to less space and save costs. Cloud storage is also incredibly redundant which means your data is highly available. It is possible to lose data if a provider goes out of business or suffers a major outage, but this is rare. Most providers are highly reliable and have good uptime. Security is kind of a concern when it comes to cloud storage. Data stored in the cloud may be vulnerable to government surveillance, data breaches, and other security risks.

On-Premises Storage

In the not-so-distant past, the only option for businesses was to store their data on-premises. For many businesses, this is still the best option. If your business deals with financial data, government records, or other sensitive information, you may need to keep your data on-premises.

If you work with a lot of sensitive data, you may need to keep it on-premises regardless. Data stored on-premises is usually stored in a server room managed by a third party, the IT department, or a vendor.

Importance of Cybersecurity Technology in Hospitals

Computer controlling MRI Scanner

 

Hospitals, too, are ultimately nothing more than structures with complex building technology. It is constantly facing new threats, such as blackmail from the Internet. Thus, make cybersecurity as critical as having a hospital guard in the facility.

When the newspapers reported on 10 September 2020 of a failure of the IT systems at the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD), those responsible assumed a minor glitch that would be quickly remedied. A week later, it was clear that the problem was bigger. The number of affected patients grew steadily, some of which had been booked for months and had to be canceled. Instead of up to 120 operations a day, only 10 to 15 could be performed, and new patients were no longer admitted.

Although individual devices such as X-rays worked, the data obtained could not be fed into the UKD network. Apparently, the clinic had been the victim of a hacker attack, and accidentally. Because at the same time as the failures in the UKD, an extortion letter was received at the University of Düsseldorf. After being alerted to the crippled hospital, they sent a decryption key.

Regular attacks

For years, there have been regular attacks on authorities, universities, and research institutions. For the first time, this type of digital crime attracted public attention when all IT systems had to be shut down in February 2016 after a cyber attack at the Lukaskrankenhaus in Neuss. The hospital was only one destination among several. In addition, hospital computers in Mönchengladbach, Essen and Cologne, later also in Arnsberg were affected.

Thus, a new blackmail method had arrived in Germany, which was previously only known from US crime novels. Perpetrators usually use infected e-mail attachments to smuggle viruses onto computer systems that block access to systems and files or encrypt entire hard drives. With the help of this ransomware, criminals usually demand money to unlock the infected computer or decrypt the files.

Rebooting systems according to the prioritization list

After four days, the IT specialists in Neuss announced that the systems were virus-free. The next day, the successful restart of the systems could be started. In close coordination with the medical service areas, the Kristenstab decided on the following order: laboratory, SAP, radiotherapy, and in the end other areas.

First, the laboratory technology was ramped up because it forms the heart of the diagnostic and therapeutic process based on it. It makes a big difference whether a ward doctor waits an hour in the digital world for a requested laboratory result or a whole day in manual operation. Therefore, it was important to reconnect the laboratory to the systems first.

In second place was the SAP system to ensure the supply of hospital operations with required medicines and medical devices. After five days after the crisis, the clinic threatened to run out of drug stocks gradually. Ordering medicines, especially in quantities required by hospitals, is now an exclusively web-based process. In third place was the large radiotherapy with state-of-the-art linear accelerator technology.

Cancer patients may interrupt their radiation for a maximum of one week, otherwise, there is a risk of significant impairment of the quality of treatment. Otherwise, the doctors would have had to transfer about 100 patients to other facilities, which would have been associated with significant disadvantages for them as well as for the Lukas Hospital.

Widespread problem

As a rule, hospitals are reluctant to hang such events on the big bell, the concern about reputational damage is too great. The problem is much more widespread than is known to the public. For the “Hospital Study 2017” by the management consultancy Roland Berger, 64 percent of 500 hospitals surveyed stated that they had already been the victim of a hacker attack. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher, like any IT infrastructure, hospitals are the daily target of virtual attacks. As long as the defense systems are up to date, this is not a problem. Krämer also advises all responsible hospital managers to take out cyber insurance.

This would not protect against attacks, but it could help to cover the immense damage. With a probability of occurrence of over 50 percent, it is incomprehensible that significantly less than half of the companies have such insurance. Even four years after the events in Neuss, the problem is still topical. In August 2020, Interpol warned of increased cyber attacks on organizations in the health sector.

Actually quite astonishing, as several hacker groups had promised at the beginning of the corona pandemic not to attack hospitals. In fact, the opposite was the case, the antivirus specialist Bitdefender points out in its telemetry for the spring of 2020 a significant increase in targeted attacks on healthcare. Compared to the previous record, attacks on hospitals increased again by 73 percent in February, March and April. From February to March alone, the attack rate increased by 60 percent.

 

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Defensive measures – safety before functionality

Of course, the most comprehensive possible protection against external attacks also plays an important role internally. Wherever people’s life and limb can be impaired, the principle of “safety before functionality” applies. For this purpose, the infrastructure at the Lukaskrankenhaus in Neuss was expanded to include two firewalls, a mail gateway, a NAC solution, and monitoring software.

In concrete terms, this meant strongly segmenting the network of the clinic, which has 600 to 700 end devices. This breakdown was carried out thematically according to departments, functions, or areas of responsibility. For example, medical technology, accounting, and administration each work in their own network.

Currently, the endpoints in the network consist of 50 percent fat clients and 50 percent thin clients from Igel. However, the IT department strives to implement as many thin clients as possible to minimize the number of attack vectors. They do not obtain their data and resources locally, but via the network, so they are only equipped with the bare necessities. In most cases, they are only used to display data and enter data. In contrast to full-featured fat clients, they offer a much lower vulnerability and risk of failure, for example by visiting a website with intentionally malicious code or a carelessly opened attachment to an e-mail.

Security by updating

One of the most important tools in defending against cyber attacks is to keep the equipment and the required software up to date. And this can sometimes lead to problems with legal requirements. The Medical Devices Act provides for full certification for devices used in the medical environment. This also applies to the software installed on it. Therefore, it is not possible to simply install current patches. Instead, the responsible employees have to wait for the certification of the new components.

This leads – if at all – to very long update cycles. Therefore, a number of systems at Lukaskrankenhaus still work with old Windows versions. They need to be separated from the other components on the network to make them less vulnerable. One device even runs a venerable, English Windows XP version without Service Pack 3. But ancient technology also has its advantages, with such old devices it is quite difficult to get into the network at all.

And what is protected? At Lukaskrankenhaus, there are a large number of application areas and digital hierarchy levels, all of which serve to accelerate hospital processes. As part of the “Visite 2.0” project, Lukas employees access the patient data via iPad mini and maintain the patient file where the data is created and needed, directly at the patient’s bedside.

This important step on the way to largely paperless hospitals results in numerous advantages. Doctors and nurses always have all the latest diagnostic and care-relevant information, and documentation is simplified and accelerated. This creates a uniform electronic patient record that includes comprehensive documentation of all relevant patient information from admission to the operating theatre and the ward to discharge. With the introduction of Visite 2.0, the possibility of paperless documentation was integrated into the Städtische Kliniken Neuss and thus an important step was taken on the way to a paperless hospital.

Another project concerns telemedicine. All ambulances in Rhein-Kreis Neuss are equipped with telemedical units (Ortivus, Lifenet) that transmit the recordings of the ECGs directly to the Chest Pain Unit of the Lukas Hospital. The significant time gain has led to a 23 percent increase in the number of patients who reach the Lukas Hospital alive after an acute heart attack – a hard-measurable advantage of digitization in healthcare.

Tips on How to Choose the Best Web Host for Your Website

Web hosting is a service that provides the storage space, bandwidth, and the server that your website needs to be accessible on the internet. Web hosting services are available in many different types and with many different features. Web hosting is not just about storing your files, it also includes bandwidth, domain registration, security services, and more. You can check these Canadian hosting providers for the best web hosting service that may suit your needs.

The most common type of web hosting is shared web hosting. With this type of web hosting, you share resources with other websites on the same server. This can be good for websites that don’t use a lot of resources and don’t have high traffic volumes because they will share them with other sites. However, it can also be bad for websites that have high traffic volumes or use a lot of resources because they will have to share them with other sites which may slow down their website and cause it to crash more often.

The most common reasons why every website needs web hosting are:

  • To store their site’s files on a server so that people across the world can access them
  • To provide bandwidth so that people from around the world can access their site
  • To use other website servers to host the site’s files
  • To use a website builder like WordPress or DrupalFor large websites that have their own IT staff

How to Determine Which Web Host You Should Choose

Choosing the right web host for your website is very important. It can help you avoid a lot of headaches and save you a lot of time in the long run. The following are some questions you should ask yourself when choosing a web host:

  • What are my needs?
  • What kind of hosting do I need?
  • Can I afford the hosting plan that I’m looking at?
  • Do I want to pay monthly or yearly?
  • Is there any customer service that comes with this plan?

Tips on How to Choose the Best Web Host for Your Website

Choosing the best web host for your website is a difficult and time-consuming task. There are many factors that you need to take into consideration before you make a purchase. A few of these factors include:

Cost: You need to find out how much the web hosting company charges for their services. The cost will depend on the type of hosting you require and the number of domains that you want. You should compare your options and see which one offers the best value for money.

Technical Support: When it comes to choosing a web host, there is nothing more important than customer support. If your site goes down or if there is an issue with your domain name, then it is important that they have a good customer support team who can help resolve any issues quickly. You should also look into how soon they will be able to respond to your requests.

Number of Domains and Web Hosting Features: You must take into account the number of domains that you want to be hosted and the specific features that this web host offers. Some companies offer a limited amount of domains or only provide certain features. This is important because if you want to host multiple domains, then you will most likely have to pay more money for their services.

Compare Webhosting Providers: You should compare the web hosting providers to see which one offers the best value for money. If you want to host multiple domains and have more features, then you will need to pay a little bit more than if you were looking for a single domain. You should also consider how soon they will be able to respond when something goes wrong with your website as this is quite important as well.