When Bitcoin was invented by a mysterious individual under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto”, the word “decentralized” became the focus of computer scientists and geeks.“Decentralizing” simply means distributing functions outside a central place or authority. Although the definition may seem to lend itself to economists and politicians, this concept has triggered a revolution in the computer industry. The decentralization of the storage and data access function has enabled Blockchain to see the light of day. The name of this innovative technology comes from the sequence of time-stamped blocks or transactional data packets – who sent how much and to whom – in an immutable registry of transactions that is stored on millions of computers that belong to individuals like you. These computers are constantly checking with each other to keep the Blockchain up-to-date and secure .So, if you wanted to hack the Blockchain, you would need to hack millions of the most powerful computers on Earth simultaneously, while remaining undetected.
How does this contrast with what has happened since the invention of the Internet? Well, the old method of data storage and retrieval, which is common today, is to use servers, which are specialized computers that manage access to a centralized or single source. These servers are usually kept in a special room or building and must be maintained by administrators and security programs. It worked well, in most cases.
Many cases of data leaks
The problem with centralized systems is that they are simple to break; it is enough to break the security of the server, to infiltrate the room or building where they are or to have access from inside. In the world of medical data, many such cases have been documented. Take, for example, the February 27, 2017 breakthrough of the Diamond Institute for Infertility and Menopause. An unauthorized person had access to the medical information of 14,633 individuals , including patient names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, lab results, and ultrasounds. It is still unclear how the violation occurred, but the data was stolen from a third-party server containing its Electronic Medical Records (EMR) database.
Another offense, discovered in 2013, involved a licensed practical nurse who had unlimited access to Social Security numbers and electronic medical records of 919 patients. The nurse had access to the data from September 2009 to October 2013 and was stopped only during a random health system audit .
Also, around March 6, 2017, a hard drive containing personal information from 2,200 LSU Health New Orleans patients was stolen.to the neurology research department of the health care organization . Although an arrest was made on March 7, the hard drive has still not been found, and officials say it contained information including names, birth dates, diagnoses and codes of thumb. treatment of patients who participated in research studies between 1998 and 2009.
… to sell them
The reason for stealing medical information is simple: these data have great market value . This was reported by Trend Micro on the subject of black market medical data sales in 2017. He indicates that a complete EMR database can be sold for $ 500,000 . Health card IDs with valid prescriptions cost US $ 0.50 per unit, and full US victim profiles, including medical and health insurance data, sold for less than US $ 1. . Meanwhile, fraudulent tax returns based on stolen medical records were marketed for $ 13.50 and fake birth certificates based on stolen data in medical records sold for $ 500.
The opportunity to improve security with the Blockchain
So where does this lead us, the consumers? We still have a choice to make. Do we want to continue using outdated data storage and retrieval systems, leaving users vulnerable? These systems are fully understood and used by the largest banks, hospitals, governments and businesses around the world. On the other hand, the Blockchain is a revolutionary new technology that, although still in its infancy, could one day replace server rooms as the absolute reference of computer networks.
This is where MediChain comes in. By using a combination of data storage on the Blockchain and also off-channel (excluding Blockchain) , MediChain seeks to streamline the EMR system, thus making it efficient and secure. While the data itself will be stored in an offline database, the only way to access it will be through pointers and keys found on the Blockchain . A patient will have the private key needed to access his or her data and may allow doctors and the hospital to view and make changes to it. Even if a hacker enters the offline database, he will not be able to access the data without the keys .
Said differently: even if the off-line database was stolen it would not matter because the data is unreadable. To make this data readable, it would be necessary to hack the access keys that are on Blockchain … and thus hack a whole Blockchain. Illusory.
This will also streamline access to EMR between entities, as MediChain will partner with organizations such as the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain to facilitate data transfer between private practices and public institutes such as: than hospitals. Unnecessary time and resources will no longer be spent on consolidating the different data storage systems. Patients will be able to view their own data without intermediaries or authorization from their health care provider.
MediChain will be free for patients and doctors , instead asking patients to let scientists and medical companies use the data for research in exchange for a cryptocurrency called MediChain Utility Tokens ( MCU ). MediChain is currently implementing its public ICO, with 15 million MCUs issued at the time of writing this article. Their website with more information can be found here.
Do you trust old storage structures to secure your medical data, or would you prefer the Blockchain to store access keys? Tell us in the comment section.