Northrop Grumman has released a white paper that presents a model for additional security for genomic data, (i.e., data that composes the genome and DNA of an organism) as well as the broader implications of genomic data to the precision medicine effort in the healthcare community.
As defined by the National Institutes of Health, precision medicine is, "an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person." Using a more personalized approach to treatment and prevention, precision medicine can enable greater accuracy. As the healthcare community moves increasingly toward this approach, there is a greater need to integrate genomic data into electronic health records (EHRs). Genomic data currently is treated as Protected Health Information (PHI). The paper, however, suggests that the security and privacy concerns for genomic data are different, because genomic data does not relate to a single individual, but, instead, may reveal health characteristics of that individual’s entire family genealogy. Given those broader and multi-generational implications, the paper suggests a security framework in which genomic data could be afforded greater security than traditional PHI data.
For precision medicine to reach its full potential, a person’s human genome will have to be shared across a broader spectrum of professionals, expanding the healthcare team to include geographically disbursed researchers, clinicians, and other professionals involved in creating personalized, specialized treatment protocols and therapies. This increased sharing of healthcare data in cyberspace increases risks from insider threats, hacktivists, organized crime, nation-states, and substandard products and services..
The Northrop Grumman white paper presents a comprehensive framework for cybersecurity and privacy within the precision medicine domain. This framework is intended to add to the White House Precision Medicine Initiative and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Frameworks, with a specific focus on the security and privacy risks of introducing the human genome into the current EHR. The model framework is designed to help mitigate the evolving threats in this dynamic environment.
“We are tremendously excited as the world of precision medicine continues to take shape,” said Amy Caro, vice president, health solutions business unit, Northrop Grumman. “As a leading provider of cybersecurity, Northrop Grumman views the security of genomic data as a vital factor in the success of precision medicine going forward.”
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