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Biometrics in the limelight in presentation of novel healthcare cybersecurity toolkit

An EU-backed project team presented their holistic approach to cybersecurity for healthcare organisations at the European Association for Biometrics Research Projects Conference 2020.

Digital Economy

From electronic medical records to teleconsultations, the healthcare industry is becoming more and more digitised. While offering many benefits, digitisation also makes healthcare organisations and the valuable private data they possess vulnerable to cybercrime. However, this isn’t the only source of vulnerability for these organisations. Other reasons include multiple connected end points that are continuously changing, various obstacles preventing the adoption of security solutions and human error resulting from the heavy workload faced by healthcare staff. To address these issues, the EU-funded PANACEA project is developing an innovative toolkit that offers healthcare institutions a holistic approach to cybersecurity. The toolkit was presented at the virtual European Association for Biometrics Research Projects Conference in September 2020. Insights into the toolkit’s various components and its contribution to healthcare biometrics standards were provided by team members of project partners IDEMIA, France, and the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas.

Toolkit components

According to a news item posted on the ‘BiometricUpdate.com’ website, “[t]he tool kit, for human-to-machine and machine-to-machine interfaces, includes software for secure information sharing, dynamic risk assessment, security by design support and compliance.” Other features comprise a risk governance model, a cyber training and education package, and a secure behaviour nudging tool. While developing the toolkit, the project team kept in mind that their solution had to be easy to use so that healthcare workers would accept it. A one-click button feature ensures that time-pressed staff won’t need to look for a workaround. The affordable toolkit, which includes biometric facial recognition, is also expected to solve the problem of credential sharing in hospitals. Two authentication factors ensure that it’s secure, and it’s easy to integrate into existing IT infrastructure. Through the use of biometry and Bluetooth Low Energy, the PANACEA solution offers a frictionless and user-friendly experience. As stated in the news item, the project team told the virtual conference’s viewers that “they will make it possible to manage authentication with decentralized biometric databases, giving system users GDPR-compliant biometrics.” The researchers have also developed systems that can recognise the faces of people wearing masks.

Contributions to healthcare biometrics standards

The same news item observes that PANACEA team members reportedly played an important role “in ‘re-animating’ standards work in ISO SC 37 Technical Report 21419, which deals with ‘cross-jurisdictional aspects of biometric technologies.’” The project team provided input on the priority areas in which biometrics could add value that were highlighted in the early draft of the Technical Report. These include universal identity management of healthcare staff and secure access to shared and protected medical records. Other priorities include the correlation of medical files for research purposes, safe telecare, easy checks of patient identity, and ensuring that the identity and qualifications of medical staff are verified at the point of care. The PANACEA (Protection and privAcy of hospital and health iNfrastructures with smArt Cyber sEcurity and cyber threat toolkit for dAta and people) project aims to strengthen Europe’s position as a major cybersecurity provider in the healthcare sector. It also strives to promote the ongoing development of fully tailored identity management and secure data management solutions for healthcare. The 3-year project ends in December 2021. For more information, please see: PANACEA project website

Keywords

PANACEA, biometric, cybersecurity, healthcare, toolkit