By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist
Here’s an interesting article from SolarWinds associate, David Trossell, where he dives into cloud security concerns at National Health Service (NHS).
Moving to the cloud is not a be-all-end-all security solution for NHS organisations.
Several press reports claim that NHS Digital now recognizes public cloud services as a safe way of storing health and social care patient data. In January 2018, the UK’s National Health Service Digital press statement cited Rob Shaw, Deputy Chief Executive at NHS Digital.
It’s hoped that the standards created by the new national guidance document will enable NHS organizations to benefit from the flexibility and cost savings associated with the use of cloud facilities. However, Shaw says: "It is for individual organisations to decide if they wish to use cloud and data offshoring and there are a huge range of benefits in doing so. These include greater data security protection and reduced running costs, when implemented effectively.”
With compliance to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in mind, which came into force in May 2018, the guidance offers greater clarity on how use to cloud technologies. With a specific focus on how confidential patient data can be safely managed, NHS Digital explains that the national guidance document “highlights the benefits for organisations choosing to use cloud facilities.”
These benefits can include “cost savings associated with not having to buy and maintain hardware and software, and comprehensive backup and fast recovery of systems.” Based on this, NHS Digital states it believes that these “features cut the risk of health information not being available due to local hardware failure.” However, at this juncture, it should be noted that the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and so each NHS Trust and body should examine the expressed benefits based on their own business, operational, and technical audits of the cloud.
A report by Digital Health magazine suggests that everything is still not rosy with the public cloud. Owen Hughes headlines that, “Only 17% of NHS trusts expect financial return from public cloud adoption.” This figure emerged from a Freedom of Information request that was sent to over 200 NHS trusts and foundation trusts by the Ireland office of SolarWinds, an IT management software provider. The purpose of this FOI request, which received a response from 160 trusts, was to assess NHS organisation’s plans for public cloud adoption.
“The gloomy outlook appears to stem from a variety of concerns surrounding the security and management of the cloud: 61% of trusts surveyed cited security and compliance as the biggest barrier to adoption, followed by budget worries (55%) and legacy tech and vendor lock-in, which scored 53% respectively,” writes Hughes.
The research also found that the key challenges faced by the trusts in managing cloud services were caused by determining suitable workloads (49%), and 47% expressed a concern that they might have a lack of control of performance. The primary concern expressed by 45% of the respondents was about how to protect and secure the cloud.
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