With the increase in mobile device ownership which includes smartphones and tablets, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking to the internet for answers to their health concerns. While this is good for patients, it’s also an attractive target for hackers.
We have access to the health information on our smartphones, which can be useful when we need to know something quickly. However, this convenience comes at a cost—we’re not always aware of the risks that come along with using a mobile device to store and share sensitive information.
It’s been reported that less than 50 percent of Americans have taken action to protect their personal health information on a mobile device. (Source; Akasa Automation Report). The benefits of protecting this information are far too great for any person, company, or organization to ignore. It can be secured and protected by applying the following ways:
Password authentication is a method in which a user enters a unique ID and key, which is then compared to previously stored credentials. It is one of the quickest forms of security; you can set up your device to require some identification before letting someone access your phone. It can be in a Passcode, PIN, Password, Fingerprint, or 2-factor authentication can be adopted as well.
Multi-factor authentication or 2FA is an additional layer of protection that verifies that anyone attempting to access an online account are who they claim to be. The user must first provide their username and password. They will then be requested to submit another piece of information before they can receive access.
Installing and Enabling Encryption
Encryption is the process in which you convert your data into a form that cannot be accessed or decrypted without the relevant password or key. As a security protocol businesses should encrypt all the data, including the data on mobile devices with information you are receiving and sending to others.
No matter what source of communication you are using, your data remains protected from any unauthorized users and breaches. Encryption of data can be done with various methods, but you might have first to test out your phone’s encryption capabilities if it has built-in full disk encryption or AES 128/ 256 encryption. If it does not have built-in encryption, you might have to use third-party software such as dm-crypt to do the job or work with your Managed IT services to ensure mobile data encryption is included in the device’s security plan.
Use Remote Wiping/Disabling
Remote wipe is a security feature that allows a network administrator or device owner to send a command to a computer device that erases data. It is generally used to wipe data from a device that has been lost or stolen so that the data is not compromised if the device falls into the wrong hands. It can also be used to delete data from a device that has changed owners or administrators and can no longer be physically accessed.
Remote wiping is regarded as a security feature that can be used to wipe your medical device from anywhere around the world if it is lost or stolen. Patients take the medical devices with them to home for gathering and monitoring their health data and end up getting them lost. When used correctly, this feature can save all the essential information and data stored on your phone from the hands of a stranger.
Some mobile devices come with this feature in-built and can be enabled through the safety and privacy or lost device settings. You can set it up and control your phone with your desktop or laptop. Besides this, you can also use it so that if there is an excessive passcode failure, your device will be temporarily disabled to save your data from being compromised.
Install only trusted File-Sharing Applications
Some software’s are designed to share or trade your data with other phones or devices using an internet connection. Such applications can have uninterrupted access to all the files on your phone without your knowledge. Sharing data through these applications is subject to malware, hacking, and loss of sensitive information. Therefore make sure to share files through hardline connections only or use only trusted apps that are HIPAA compliant file-sharing platforms.
Therefore, you should pay close attention to the software that has permission to access your data. If you don’t see the need for an application or find it suspicious, disabling or uninstalling such applications reduces your risk of leaking personal information.
Use a Firewall
You can intercept all the unnecessary incoming and outgoing attempts by simply introducing a personal firewall to your connection. It can block any malicious attacks and only allows connections that fulfill the set criteria. For healthcare businesses, just a simple firewall on your system won’t work rather work building remote management of firewall policies into the devices themselves. Along with firewall activity logging and disabling unnecessary non-healthcare IT ports.
If your device has a built-in firewall, you should activate it as soon as possible, and if you are having trouble finding it, you can always find a solution on the internet. But in case it doesn’t, you can also download third-party software that can do this job.
Using Security Software
Security software is designed to protect your healthcare device from any malicious software or files; this includes viruses, malware, and spam. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals use tablets for patient info all the time. You can increase the security level of your device by installing good security software such as PC doctor and mdsguard and keeping it up to date.
This type of software comes in various forms, each having its designated role, such as anti-theft, anti-virus, anti-malware, firewall solutions, etc.
Keep Your Security Software Up to Date
Security risks and threats such as viruses and malware are changing their codes hastily. To keep up with these changes, keep all of your security software up to date so that they are ready to tackle any threat that comes their way.
Research Mobile Applications Before Downloading
There is a plethora of excellent health apps and technology available today. Third-party apps, on the other hand, come with third-party code flaws. When you integrate that product into your system, the entire network is put in danger. Ascertain that the app’s security meets FDA and HIPPA requirements. Any mobile application has the capability of compromising your data to the wrong hands. They can copy your contacts, get information about your address, passwords, or any other private data without you ever knowing about it.
Therefore, whenever you download an application for your phone, make sure that you read all the specifications and required permissions first. You can install the application only after you completely understand it. Also, TEST TEST TEST. Avoid having to respond to breaches and device failures in the field by detecting security flaws during development and testing.
Maintain Physical Control
Another method to secure your data is to remain in physical control of your device at all times. A small and portable mobile phone has a greater risk of being lost or stolen, which can easily result in your data being compromised in the wrong hands.
On the other hand, not letting other people use your device, locking your device when not in use, and physically securing it can exponentially increase your security and save your device from any external breach or tempering.
Secure Your Information on Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi connections are the hub of public gathering, and this means that there are loads of data being transferred from mobile devices and the internet connection points. The problem with these connections is that they don’t have any security, and your data can be quickly interrupted while being transferred.=
It is why you should never opt to use them in the first place. But in case of an emergency where you don’t have any choice, you should have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) software on your phone that can encrypt all of your data while passing through the internet connection.
There’s no easy answer to this question. It’s always a good idea to be careful about what you share with others, but that doesn’t help when your device is already infected with malware.
To summarize, be smart when using health apps on your mobile device. Consider how much valuable information you may be inadvertently giving away. Also, remember to be proactive each time you download an app and read through the terms and conditions of service carefully.
When it comes to protecting your health information on a mobile device, the first thing you should do is evaluate what apps and data you need access to. You can also use various solutions that exist today such as Protected Harbor’s Protected phones with a secure remote wipe system and set strong passwords for every app that stores sensitive health information. Protected harbor with its experienced team and state of art technologies has been servicing the healthcare industry, contact us now to know how we do it.