With the continued advancement of technology has been the continued relevance of technology to our everyday lives. In the healthcare industry, Healthcare Information Technology has seen a continuous rise in importance as hospitals find more advanced ways to use data collected (big data and smart data) to increase the quality of care they provide and increase the efficiency of the hospitals and healthcare organizations. In as much as hospitals secure their data and guarantee that patients data are kept safe, individuals also need to take appropriate precautions to ensure that their personal healthcare data and health records are kept safe. In our everyday lives, there are so many ways we can benefit from and use data but this also means that there are so many ways that out data can be collected and mined for at best-targeted advertising and at worst identity theft, loss of critical information and compromised personal data. Below we list ways that individuals can take precautions to protect their personal data from falling into the wrong hands.
Be Careful About Providing Sensitive Information Online
Individuals need to be careful about providing sensitive data on your doctor’s website. Many medical facilities, doctors websites or hospital platforms ask patients for personal data but just because they ask does not mean that the platform is secure. Even big and very established companies have had issues with data breach and loss of customer data like when Target lost Customer Information. How much smaller hospitals or private practices that cannot afford expensive data securing services or platforms. Do not provide personal data like social security number, id card information, bank card information or any other payment information. Always check for a secure connection so for example, check if the website like has HTTPS as opposed to HTTP which is not secure. Do not input sensitive information on a site that has only HTTP.
Understand Your Hospital’s Communication Tools
It is important to understand the communication tools that your healthcare organization uses and understand the working of it. Like if they have a messaging platform how private is it and if its private how many people within the hospital can have access to it. Ask your physician to explain the correspondence you can expect to receive and what information your health care provider might request over the phone or over email so you can know when something is fishy. Sometimes, data thieves could call patients impersonating healthcare providers and ask for sensitive information so individuals need to be alert for this kind of trickery. Regardless of the hospital rules, it is unwise to share sensitive information like social security numbers and banking details over the phone. If your hospital asks you to do this, ask for a different method and suggest you do it over a more secure channel like face to face instead.
Don’t Use Outdated Electronic Devices
Technology is growing and changing rapidly and this means that devices need to be updated quite often in order to keep up with new technology and new software. Individuals should try to update their devices such as cell phones, tablets, and computers with the latest software so that they are not left vulnerable to security breaches. Older devices with older software are usually more vulnerable and so more susceptible to security breaches. Some older devices are also no longer maintained by the manufacturer and so they no longer provide updates. If that’s the case then it might be time to get a new device especially if you perform a lot of transactions online with sensitive information.
Be Wary of Free Wi-Fi
Alas! Wifi has become one of the necessities of life almost as important as oxygen. Because of the need to always stay connected, we are always on the hunt for a wifi connection preferably free. This is also quite available at cafes, big stores even public transportation. People need to be wary of connecting to just any free wifi available as most networks are not secure and could lead to data loss or theft. When connecting to public wifi, try to disconnect any programs or apps on your devices that have sensitive information stored and don’t share any personal information over unsafe and public networks even if you are sure the website is secure, if your connection is secure, wait till it is before you share anything sensitive. So, for example, don’t log into your bank account using public wifi. Wait till you are at home.
Install an Antivirus
Having an anti-virus installed on your computer will save you a lot of headaches. Even though they are not always guaranteed to protect against all attacks, having them provides some sort of protection which is better than having no protection. Also be watchful the kinds of connections you make, don’t visit the suspicious and unsafe website and don’t click on random and untrustworthy links as they will leave you vulnerable to viruses. You can also get high-quality antiviruses and additional malware and scanners to provide the best protection.
Do Not Leave Your Devices Unattended
Say you are at a cafe, do not leave your devices unattended or open while you walk away. Though many people worry about their devices being stolen, they should also worry about their information being stolen from their device. An unattended device could be accessed by a data thief and they download all your information such as usernames, passwords, emails, contacts etc. They can use the data to access your accounts, impersonate you and even blackmail you.