Healthcare Agency Reduces Risks of Data Loss and Protects Patient Outcomes with OneXafe Immutable Storage


The healthcare industry is a top target for hackers. A recent HIPAA Journal article points out that there were 686 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records in 2021. That may not sound overwhelmingly bad, but the total number of exposed or stolen records reached a breathtaking 44,993,618. Meanwhile, a 2021 survey of 597 health delivery organizations found that 42 percent had faced two ransomware attacks in the past couple of years.

Action Cancer, a non-profit healthcare agency based in Northern Ireland, provides a vital public service, including digital breast screening, health promotion, and therapeutic services. The charity’s Big Bus travels throughout the country every year to provide prevention, detection, and support services to less privileged areas.

Early Detection Depends on Digital Technology

Action Cancer uses sophisticated tomosynthesis 3D digital scanning technology to take about 10,000 patient scans per year. This advanced technology can spot signs of cancers as small as a pinhead, making it possible to identify and diagnose cancer earlier, which helps save lives and increase survival rates. But each scan can incorporate up to 400 image slices per patient. And healthcare compliance regulations require that these scans be stored for a minimum of 10 years. That has created a vast and growing volume of data that must be protected from ransomware, data breaches, accidental deletion, corruption, or hardware failure. “We have to comply to the same level of security as a hospital to safeguard our images against loss,” said Hugh Blair, ICT manager at Action Cancer. Aware of growing threats to the industry, Action Cancer knew it was time to upgrade its data protection solution to ensure its patient records were secure.

Patient Scans Creates Massive Amounts of Data

Cybersecurity, ransomware, and other threats also carry risks for patients. “If we lose a set of x-rays before it is reported, that client will need to be x-rayed again, and that is an unnecessary additional dose of radiation (which carries risks), but also it could delay a cancer diagnosis. Early detection is crucial to save lives and get the best possible treatment for the client… any delay can detrimentally change that person’s outcome,” said Joanna Currie, Consultant Radiographer at Action Cancer.

Action Cancer Works with Arcserve Partner to Deploy Scalable Solution

There are just two people on Action Cancer’s internal IT team, so the agency looked to long-term Arcserve partner Leaf IT for help in identifying and deploying a storage solution to protect the scan data. The organizations collaborated on choosing Arcserve OneXafe appliances. Today, Action Cancer stores about 50 terabytes (TB) of scan data on two OneXafe 4412 appliances deployed in separate server rooms, with data replicated between the two appliances.

OneXafe: Scalable, Easy to Use Data Protection and Recovery

With OneXafe deployed, Action Cancer can now recover scan images in a matter of minutes while reducing risks of data loss and protecting patient data. “Regular snapshots means that in the event of a ransomware attack, hardware failure, accidental deletion, or corruption, we can easily and very quickly roll back and restore our data,” said Darryl Heanen, CTO at Leaf IT. “The Arcserve appliances are a great solution. They’re effortless to set up, manage and maintain, so we can spend our time adding value, rather than just managing backups.” Based on the success of the initial deployment, Action Cancer now plans to add a third OneXafe appliance located in Leaf IT’s data center to provide additional offsite storage.

The OneXafe appliances also give Action Cancer a solution to meet its growing data storage demands by easily scaling as the mountain of data it generates continues to grow. And the immutable snapshots protect against ransomware attacks. “We now have confidence that, should the worst happen, we can keep our critical patient x-rays safe. That helps us all sleep better at night,” added Blair.

Is It Time to Improve Your Patient Data Protections?

Whether you are in healthcare—or any other industry for that matter—ransomware and data breach threats continue to evolve and increase. If you’re ready to look at how to protect your data better, contact us to get your questions answered or talk to an expert Arcserve data protection partner.

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