To Protect Medical Data, Treat It Like a Game?

Medscape Staff

December 17, 2021

Researchers in biomedical informatics show how game theory may provide the best way to anticipate hackers' moves.

What to know:

  • Publicly available sets of biomedical data make important projects like the National COVID Cohort Collaborative and the Personal Genome Project possible, but protecting personal privacy can pose a challenge.

  • While there are many programs that obscure personal information from medical data, it's often still possible to track subjects' identities through other sources, such as public genealogy databases and demographic data online.

  • Researchers at the Center for Genetic Privacy and Identity in Community Settings have developed a game to help mitigate risks by modeling the maximum amount of data that can be shared with the least amount of risk.

  • The two-player game models interactions between a data subject and a potentially malicious user. Relying on game theory, it acts out how when the data subject attempts to share data, the malicious user might attempt to obtain it, weighing their own capabilities and potentially financial losses.

  • With their game-based approach, the researchers aim to provide the most realistic scenarios of biomedical data breaches to identify the optimal strategy that both protects privacy and provides data to the public that can further research.

This is a summary of the article, "The Best Way to Protect Personal Biomedical Data From Hackers Could Be to Treat the Problem Like a Game," published by The Conversation on December 16. The full article can be found on theconversation.com.

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