One time encryption Pad

A one-time encryption pad is a computer that is separate from your main data server where messages and attachments can be uploaded and stored transiently in an encrypted form.

If an encrypted PASSCODE can be agreed upon between two parties, and the code is EIGHT numbers or letters in length, and comprises a mixture of letters lower/upper case and numbers, the message and its attachments can be very hard to crack by todays standards and given its content, would pass any Information Governance policy.

The message/attachment sits on the server until retrieved by any user that has the Encryption code and is then deleted- 'Mission Impossible Style'!

This technique means that even if the encryption pad server is 'hacked' there is very little data to be stolen, and where data is lost  it is largely unintelligible or 'scrambled'.

If the incorrect Pass code is entered too many times the message auto-deletes

For a nice example see AlicetoBob Pad

Variations

Staff can send the message/attachment to a patients email using the one time pad and then inform the patient of the passcode by SMS notification sent to the recipient.

In the medical world this means that once a patient has given their email, a mobile phone number OR a passcode, healthcare professionals can email results and sensitive messages to their patients without much difficulty and without breaking the most stringent of NHS or other IT Governance Policies or the patient having to sign a disclaimer.

Advantages

  1. Simple yet secure
  2. No special software required
  3. Standard open email can be used

Disadvantages

  1. Passcode must be agreed between both parties unless patient uses mobile phone
  2. The system could be used to upload a Virus so should be used with care and each attachment that is uploaded checked for 'a virus'

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Written by

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Edward Leatham is a Consultant Cardiologist in Surrey and a Trustee of Haste and Haste Academy.

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