Faculty and Staff: For Your Benefit

HIPAA Privacy and Security Tip: How to Protect Yourself Online

With the multitude of security breaches, it is important to take a few basic precautions to keep your personal information more secure when you go online. Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer. Use tight privacy controls to manage who can see your profile or photos.

Use trusted security software packages (anti-virus, personal firewall, anti-spam, and spyware detection). This software may come pre-installed on a new computer/device, downloaded from a trusted source, or purchased in retail stores. This software must be updated frequently to remain effective against new threats.

Similarly make sure the computer, tablet, or smart phone you are using has the latest security patches. Security patches are frequently released by Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Oracle (Java), and other trusted vendors. Be careful before downloading a program or file from an unknown source; you risk loading malicious software programs on your device. Many “free” apps for smart phones and tablets have the ability to track your online activities including your location. Be aware that wireless networks in public areas like airports, hotels and restaurants reduce their security so it’s easier for individuals to access. These networks may also attract cyber criminals who may attempt to intercept or eavesdrop on your communications.

The best passwords are ones that are difficult to guess. Cyber criminals are continuously trying to break into online accounts. Use passwords that consist of a combination of numbers, letters (both upper and lower case), punctuation, and special characters. Do not use the same password for your social networks, email accounts, and bank/credit cards. Don’t share your password via email.

Many companies now offer an additional option to verify your identity at logon, such as a security token or text to your smart phone. Consider using these options for your banks, credit cards, and other high value accounts. To read the complete tip, including further details to protect your information, please visit privacyoffice.med.miami.edu/awareness.