TECHNOLOGY: Wireless vulnerability

According to AIS’ Business News wireless networks can create major HIPAA vulnerabilities.  This seems obvious but if the network is not secure and doesn’t require authentication, anyone within range can get on the network and with a tiny amount of knowledge get into other computers on the network.  Of course that’s a huge security vulnerability. That’s well known. 

Let me give you an example not in health care but very close to a home I know well–mine.  I have wireless LAN in my office on the ground floor. To get onto my network you need to know an authentication code, so it’s very secure.  But upstairs in my house, while my LAN doesn’t go up through the floor, I can pick up no less than 4 other networks in my apartment building, for which you do not need an authentication code to get on.  Last night I was watching the baseball and (I guess illegally) using one of those networks to post on my blog.  I then shut off Explorer and email and was working on a word document (while Oakland decided that it was time for a Red Sox/Cubs world series). I then got a call from my neighbor.   My computer was still active on his wireless LAN, he had found it on his network and had found out who I was by poking around in my files, called me up and asked to get off his network!  So as an amateur "wardriver" my computer was vulnerable too.

So given the number of people who like me use other people’s LANs in an unregistered/illegal way, how many clinicians are exposing patient information without knowing it?

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