With SIB’s numerous activities in the health field and acknowledging the major importance of data security in this context, the Institute is further developing its abilities in enforcing security for health-related endeavours.
Securing health data infrastructure
SIB plays a central role as a Data Coordination Centre. It is mandated by the Swiss Confederation to implement a secure network, enabling data to be shared for research in personalized health (the so-called SPHN initiative). The first steps in this secure data architecture are being implemented through the BioMedIT project, thanks to the remarkable joint work of SIB's employees and the SIB affiliated core facilities known as BioMedIT nodes. They consist of access to a remote data analysis environment using two-factor authentication. This method enables scientists to analyse data remotely and securely while preventing any transfer or download of the data.
Safeguarding data resources
For resources with sensitive data, penetration testing is conducted on a regular basis and guidelines on how to resolve security vulnerabilities have been established. Further work is underway to ensure security policies are adapted to the sensitivity of databases and extended to SIB resources outside the health field. This is all part of SIB's mission to add value to bioinformatics resources dedicated to the scientific community.
A trusted partner for health actors
SIB has become a partner of choice for health professionals, both for its involvement in the security aspects and for its strategic position between research and clinical needs.
Some obvious examples are the many projects of the Clinical Bioinformatics Group. A few years ago, the Institute decided to launch this group to bring bioinformatics advances directly to clinicians and their patients. Today, the group is recognized for its ability to partner with Swiss hospitals in enhancement projects supporting clinical diagnosis, unite them around common guidelines on interpretation practices for next-generation sequencing and collaborate on new data resources, such as the one for interpreting genetic variants (SVIP). All this is the result of a strong collaborative spirit with scientists and clinicians, the unique expertise of SIB's developers and SIB's capacity to ensure the highest standards of security for the data involved.
Together with strong analytical capacities and comprehensive reference databases, the demand for high security and reliable storage of sensitive data is continuously increasing. These are all part of SIB's competence portfolio, providing its developers and bioinformaticians with ever-more exciting challenges and projects.