Anne Genge – CEO of Alexio Corporation
Anne is the 2020 CDM ‘Most Innovative Woman in Cybersecurity’. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional with a specialization in healthcare. She also holds certifications for HIPAA Security and PCI Compliance. With over 20 years of experience, Anne knows the challenges healthcare providers face with technology. She and her team at Alexio Corporation work with small businesses and healthcare professionals to minimize data risk and keep business systems running smoothly.
How did you become involved in privacy? Having been in the industry for about 20 years, how have things changed for you?
I started my career in the healthcare industry. In the early 2000’s, healthcare started to adopt electronic medical records. They embraced digital imaging, meaning that they started to shift from taking X-rays on film to using sensors, and digital CT, and MRI’s became common. Paper charts needed to be digitized and methods for sharing all this data became necessary.
This was all done to increase diagnostic capabilities, create efficiencies, and push for better patient care. I became involved in transitioning healthcare practices from paper records to digital records.
Early on in that process, I became very aware that privacy and security were going to be a big concern.It was obvious that viruses and hackers were going to have a big garden to pick from in a very different way than existed with paper records.
Today most small businesses have the same challenges. They have a lot of personal information and don’t have the kinds of budgets they need compared to big organizations but they still have the same obligations and responsibilities to protect customer or patient information.
It became my mission to make information privacy & security easy and affordable for all small businesses. Every person who gives their information to any business deserves to have it protected, and all businesses deserve to be able to do that affordably, especially today during such difficult times, and with rapid digital transformation which itself makes businesses much more vulnerable.
What’s the most challenging part of your job as a privacy professional?
One of the biggest challenges working in information privacy and security is trying to modify people’s behavior with data. Many people actually behave quite recklessly with data, but they have no idea that they are doing so.
I feel like my awareness campaign is still in the baby stage. I find so many gaps, and these gaps exist in big business too. If governments, hospitals, and very large corporations cannot keep our information safe, imagine how vulnerable small businesses are to healthcare clinics are.
Looking back over the centuries, have people always been interested in the privacy and how have they achieved it?
The need for privacy has existed really as long as language itself. I cannot imagine a time where people wouldn’t have wanted others to know certain things about themselves. Safes, lockboxes, and locked cabinets all worked well for decades.
When the world was not so heavily digitally connected it didn’t really matter as much. However, the more technology has evolved, the more it has become a challenge.
Today we stuff massive amounts of data into our computers, servers, and cloud servers, all of which are constantly connected and available. It’s easier to break into and steal stuff, often without people knowing.
Can you discuss the evolution of small businesses concerns about privacy? What do you think has changed in terms of those concerns? Where we are now and where we are going?
The expectation and responsibility of privacy have always existed in business. Financial institutions especially, and hospitals, for example, have generally had a handle on this for decades. But it is a whole new game now.
Nowadays almost every type of business is digitally connected. Prior to the Internet, it was much easier to keep information safe because often there would only be only one or two copies, and it was easy to lock these away in filing cabinets. Now with the adoption of cloud and connected servers, it is easy for someone to tunnel their way in and get massive numbers of files and in just a few seconds.
Digital transformation as they call it has created thousands of different types of cloud-based applications, data sharing, and integrations. This connectivity creates risk. It scares me that many tools are still built with function in mind, and privacy and security are an afterthought.
I am concerned that people are not following Privacy by Design and Security by Design. (Created by Dr. Ann Cavoukian the former Privacy Commissioner of Ontario) These are globally accepted standards, but we still have a lot of work to do.
How is Alexio Corporation addressing these concerns for small businesses?
Alexio was built to solve the privacy & cybersecurity challenges experienced by small businesses that don’t have access to the same tools and expert talent as large corporations. Alexio makes privacy & cybersecurity affordable and dependable for all business sizes, even those with just one team member.
The security of customer data is as important in a small business as anywhere else, and it requires a multi-layered approach that has to address both the systems and the people using them. We secure business systems and build human firewalls to keep businesses and their data safe from breaches, hacking, and data loss.
What is your advice for moving forward productively for individuals and also corporations, government, large institutions, other holders of data?
All businesses, governments, and anyone using data need to not just focus on infrastructure, but also understand that the human element is where we are falling short.
Numerous organizations that track the causes of breaches routinely state that up to 90% of successful cyber-attacks are facilitated by human error. We are now in an era where hackers are hacking humans. We need to build human firewalls. We need to build confidence and competency amongst all people working with clients, customers, or patient information. Additionally, we need to do this in a way that can be affordable to any business size.
On a final note, what is your advice to women entrepreneurs?
Ignore the noise. Trust yourself. Use your time wisely to understand the precise things you need to reach your goals and seek out the best people to help you.
Don’t worry about selling or learning how to sell. Do the right thing for people…help people and you’ll build lifelong relationships. The money will follow. You can build a wildly successful and sustainable business doing the right thing for everyone, meaning the right thing for your company, your team, and your customers. It is possible. It is the foundation of my own success.