Saturday, July 20, 2024

Using ‘blockchain’ to enhance health care security

Blockchain has attracted attention as the underpinning technology for emerging cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. However, it can be used to provide security and privacy in a wide range of technology applications on distributed systems, such as cloud and Internet of Things (IoT).

Sachin Shetty, a cybersecurity researcher and associate professor at the Old Dominion University Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, wants to develop security monitoring solutions to detect and identify the presence of rogue devices on cyber infrastructures.

Shetty’s proposal, “Blockchain Empowered Networked Device Identity Management,” will enhance identity management of networked devices using blockchain’s distributed ledger technology.

Based on Shetty’s proposal, Old Dominion is partnering with Sentara Healthcare on a three-year project to develop a blockchain-empowered cybersecurity solution to monitor network activities of mobile devices and provide real-time alerts of unauthorized devices or communications.

The project will involve developing and integrating a blockchain-based identity management solution within Sentara Healthcare’s cyber infrastructure. The project team will also work on enhancing scalability and assessing the limitations of the blockchain platform.

“With ongoing work for the Air Force Research Lab, we have been able to come up with a proof of concept of how a blockchain-enabled data provenance system could help track data,” Shetty said. “My interest was to see what type of case would be a good fit for health care. Can we use blockchain to detect any unauthorized entity accessing data? Can we use blockchain to detect a rogue device? The goal is to provide the ability to track and report any unauthorized access or modification to data.”

Morris Foster, vice president for research at Old Dominion, said the project is a great example of the University and a major regional employer working together on a practical challenge — “in this case the privacy of health information that could solve an everyday problem and result in a new business line for Sentara.”

Eric Weisel, executive director of VMASC, said the university is excited to partner with Sentara on groundbreaking research.

“The Sentara Healthcare collaboration will strengthen both the cybersecurity and health-care research portfolios at VMASC and engage students at the intersection of these critical fields,” he said.

Key ingredient

Dan Bowden, Sentara Healthcare vice president of information security and chief information security officer, sees this effort as one of several productive initiatives with ODU.

“The Sentara Healthcare cybersecurity program has benefited greatly from our broad association with Old Dominion University,” Bowden said. “We’re eagerly looking forward to working on this platform with Dr. Shetty’s team. The platform will improve our overall cybersecurity posture and, being built on blockchain technology, we believe it will result in many yet-to-be-reaped opportunities in the future.”

Mike Reagin, Sentara Healthcare corporate vice president and chief information officer, said “Dr. Shetty’s wealth of knowledge in cybersecurity, blockchain and cloud technologies have made him and Old Dominion University trusted consulting partners. We consider the Sentara-ODU relationship vital as we develop our interoperability strategies. Blockchain will be a key ingredient for achieving true health-care IT interoperability.”

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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