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March 2004

Making an example: Enforcing company information security policies

Public executions are necessary for enforcing company information security policies, says Dr. John Halamka. "There's no second chance if you violate trust," he explains. As CIO of both Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Halamka is charged with enforcing the policies and procedures that ensure the security of 9 million patient records and 70 terabytes of data. Most people would think that medical professionals working in a world-class hospital and university would be above the temptations of records surfing, unauthorized downloads and abuse of computer resources. They're not. Each year, Halamka says, three or four doctors -- ranging from green residents and interns to well-weathered practitioners -- are fired for violating security and acceptable use policies. Sometimes, doctors are looking up medical histories of their competitors to embarrass them or to gain a business advantage. Other times, they're simply curious about a famous patient and look up his lab tests. On occasion, they're ...

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