At CPW Dentistry, we are guard dogs about protecting our patients’ personal information. We train all team members at orientation and annually on the best practices for data safety. Ed, our amazing IT specialist, is responsible for protecting all our devices, computers, and servers. Here are some expert tips from Ed on how you too can protect your personal data:
- When sending personal information like social security numbers, passwords, financial or personal health information, use email encryption services like Enlocked, Send 2.0, Virtru, ProtonMail, or Sharefile. CPW Dentistry loves Virtru for sensitive email communication. At a minimum, password protect any email attachments using file compression programs like Pkware, Winzip or Winrar. Some business productivity programs like Excel, Word and Adobe Acrobat allow you to password protect documents as well. You can also encrypt your emails by signing up for a registered 3rd party email certificate from companies like Comodo.
- When walking away from a computer for an extended period of time that has sensitive documents open, try to lock the screen or windows/mac user account so that prying eyes can’t steal info.
- Make sure you log out of any sensitive websites after you are finished. Even if you close a browser, it does not mean you are completely logged out of your emails and someone else can hop on the machine and resume where you left off.
- Use a lot of discretion if you are going to use public WIFI with your laptop or mobile devices. Make sure any website you visit that requires you to login to access any sensitive information is encrypted. A small lock will be displayed in the address field to let you know that the website is protecting the transmitted information. If possible, use your smartphone as a personal mobile hotspot if you need to connect a tablet or laptop to the internet away from home. If that’s not an option, you can install a 3rd party secure VPN program like Hidemyass, VyperVPN, NordVPN, ExpressVPN or CyberGhost before you start accessing the web on a public WIFI signal.
- Shred! Shred! Shred! Anything that has personal or private information. And don’t forget about any documents or sensitive reports sent to the copier for printing.
- Lock your smartphones! Use biometric security like a fingerprint or facial recognition, or longer passwords. Find out if your mobile provider offers the ability to remote erase your phone if lost or stolen.
- Use phrases as your passwords to protect your logins for sensitive websites, documents or your computer. Research has shown that it’s harder for a programmed computer or hacker to break a password that is a statement like, “Ilovetheyankees!” than a password that has randomly generated letters, numbers, and symbols. Also use an encrypted password manager like Dashlane, Roboform, or LastPass to help store your passwords on your computers. The encrypted password managers make it harder for viruses or spyware to steal your information if a computer is infected.
- Use a lot of discretion when opening email attachments and clicking on web links that are embedded in the emails that automatically open your computer’s web browser. If you are not expecting an email with an attachment or has web links from someone, then discard it or contact the sender to confirm that it is a legitimate email.
- Do not allow solicitors who claim to be from Apple, Microsoft, Google, AOL, or any other technology companies to remote control your computer or provide them with any personal information. Over the past few years, there has been a rise in fake calls from so-called tech companies claiming that they are getting alerts from a laptop or desktop you are working on. They will offer to remediate the problem for free or for a small fee if you let them remote control your computer. The real tech companies never cold call customers for remote access into your system.