Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Are free Apps a security hazard for patient privacy?

"You might want to think twice the next time you download a free app to your smartphone. That app could be riddled with malware able to steal information stored on your phone, according to IEEE Fellow Jeffrey Voas. It pays to be extra cautious now, Voas says, because mobile hacking is on the rise, with free apps possibly the most popular tool for gaining access." 

This is the first sentence of a news item at the IEEE 'the Institute' website. If this is actually true the increased use of apps in the medical arena could potentially lead to a privacy risk for patients. An increasing amount of apps are (freely) available that allow to record patient information and data to facilitate the work of the physician and have the information available on their mobile device. However, as shown in the research mentioned above, this could potentially lead to access to that data by others than the physician. The researchers only scanned Android apps,  where the risk may be higher than with Apple because of the fact that every app going into the Apple appstore is checked. In 280000 Android apps scanned they found some kind of malware in about 1 percent of the apps. The actual percentage could be higher because not all malware can be easily detected.

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