When it comes to computer security, many of us live in a bubble of blissful ignorance. Unfortunately, cyber-crime is rampant. There’s little doubt that spyware, malware, and insidious virus attacks make any computer with Internet access vulnerable.
However, not all Internet security breaches are immediately apparent, therefore we are often unaware that our seemingly hassle-free computing is anything but safe. Cyber criminals consider medical practices ripe for the picking. Security policies and continuous education work are a necessity.
The sophistication of these cyber attacks is increasing, with major cities, payers, and hospital systems being cyber attacked using a variety of malicious scams. Cyberc riminals often use malware, ransomware, or phishing to do their dirty work.
The Federal Trade Commission offers seven guidelines to help consumer surf the Web safely:
1. Protect your personal information. For example, when shopping on an eCommerce site, make sure that the page where you enter your personal information is secure, as designated by “https” before the URL. It’s important to stop identity theft before it starts.
2. Know before you click. For instance, many cyber-criminals impersonate legitimate businesses, or send “phishing” email that asks you to click a hyperlink. Check out online merchants and never click on emailed hyperlinks unless you’re certain of the source.
3. Update anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software often. Hackers and others who engage in cyber-crime seem to always be a step ahead of the good guys. If your computer protection is outdated, you’re vulnerable.
4. Use Web browser and operating system security features. Make sure your browser settings give you optimal privacy and security, and ensure that you update your operating system regularly to take advantage of security patches.
5. Safeguard your passwords. For example, create a unique password for each site you visit, and keep them in a secure place. Use letter, number and symbol combinations that can outsmart automated password detection programs.
6. Always do backups. If your computer does get a virus or a worm, your files may be goners. Make sure to regularly back up any important files and store them in a secure place.
7. Prepare for emergencies. If something does go wrong, such as your computer being hacked or infected, or if you accidentally divulge personal information, know what courses of action you should take to remedy the situation and prevent further problems.
In addition, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) has an excellent article for how to beat hackers at their own game. You can read it here: https://www.aapc.com/blog/47467-cyber-threats-to-physician-practices-are-growing/