Stolen health records

This blog article from the NY Times tells the story of the theft of 780,000 health records from the state of Utah. Ordinarily this would fall outside of my interests because it is more a description of criminality than activism. But a little less than half way through the article we get a quote from Eddie Schwartz of RSA where he asks, “Why do we continue to see these large aggregate databases?”

The point he is making is that decentralizing information makes it less vulnerable.  In a decentralization scenario, the records are stored on multiple servers which must be hacked individually. A successful hack might get, say, 10,000 records at a time. To get to 780,000 records the hacker would be forced to attack 78 separate servers. I imagine it adds complexity to the administration of the database as well, though I doubt it makes the database administrator’s job as difficult as it makes the hacker’s job.

Centralization and transparency make an administrator’s job easier. As has been mentioned before, they make the jobs of your rivals and enemies easier as well. Even if the activities you are performing are socially sanctioned, centralization and transparency can still work against you.

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