8 simple ways doctors can protect mobile devices and patient data

Doctors Protect Mobile Devices Patient Data

There has been a phenomenal growth of mobile devices over the past five years, and healthcare providers are not behind. As of 2015, 99% of doctors use mobile devices, and more than three-fourths use multiple devices. But, here’s the worrisome part. 70% of doctors are now using their devices to manage in-patient data, 80% use them to assist in their day-to-day practice, and 28% actually store patient data on their devices. A study by Skycure found that 11% of devices that store patient data had an OS with high-severity vulnerabilities.

Mobile device security can have a huge impact on your practice. According to US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 260 healthcare breaches occurred in 2015. Threat for physician practices and hospitals is at an all-time high because of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement. Mobile devices have least security compared to laptops and desktops, so they are an easy target for cyber criminals who can install malware and compromise your data, including PHI (Patient Health Information). And, that’s not the only problem – the bigger threat is lost or stolen devices. There is good news, though. You can take some simple steps to protect your mobile devices from most threats. Here are 8 simple tips that go a long way in protecting your device and data:

1: Install a security app

All physicians must install a security app on their mobile devices. There are many security apps for iPhone and Android phones such as Avast!, Security 360, ESET, mSecure, Lookout, Anti-Theft, Find My iPhone, and many more. Just select what works best for you – they are all inexpensive and protect against malicious applications, viruses, spyware, and malware-based attacks. You can also remove sensitive data remotely in case the device is stolen.

2: Regularly backup data

Regular data backups ensure that your data is safe in case your phone is lost, stolen or hacked. They also help restore the phone to the last working state in case it is infected by a virus or malware. You can regularly backup the mobile device to your computer, and/or use apps that backup data round-the-clock without the need to manually do the backup.

3: Lock your screen

It is such a basic thing, but nearly 30% of all physicians do not use a password to lock their device. Creating a screen password is quick, and protects your data in case the phone is left unattended. But, do make sure to pick a complex password (or pattern), so it becomes difficult for hackers to get access to the device.

4: Avoid giving out personal information, and tapping suspicious links

Everyone has received that unsolicited SMS or Email that claims to have come from your bank, or a coupon from a big-box retailer that is waiting to be claimed. Sending such messages to request personal and account information is a common trick used by cyber criminals. Just remember – if it looks suspicious – it most likely is! The best way to react to the situation is to avoid giving away any personal information, and if you think it might be legitimate, just contact the business directly over the phone. Never click on links that look suspicious because it is an easy way for hackers to install software that can compromise your data. And the worst part – you would not even know your phone has been compromised!

5: Download apps from a trusted store

Looking for a new productivity app, or a News app? Make sure to download only from a trusted store like Google Play or iTunes. Always check the ratings and user reviews of the app before downloading to ensure that the app is widely used and safe.

6: Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use

Yes, they provide the convenience of seamless connectivity. But, they are also an easy way for hackers to intercept and compromise your information. It is somewhat inconvenient, but turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities when they are not in use.

7: Keep your OS and apps updated

Always try to keep your operating system and apps updated. Updates not only provide new features, they also provide better protection from new security threats.

8: Log out of websites, and avoid transactions on public networks

Pretty much everyone uses smartphones for shopping and banking transactions. It is a natural evolution as doctors now spend more time on mobile devices than desktop computers. And, there is no turning back. But, you just need to be a little bit careful when making these transactions. This includes making sure you log out of websites after each transaction, not storing any login information on your mobile device, and avoiding any banking or shopping transaction on public Wi-Fi.

Do you use other ways to protect your mobile device and data? Please share with the community in comments below.