It’s a new year, and as we expected, things are no longer the way they used to be. For example, our reliance on electronic applications has increased exponentially. Pause for a second to think about how many devices you use in your daily life that depend on interconnectivity. What about using the Internet for entertainment, shopping, and/or connecting with friends and family members? Doesn’t matter how or what you use it for, the end result is the same: greater reliance on electronic devices and interconnectivity.

The other side of the coin is cybercrime. Since we are using more devices and sharing more information electronically, we are creating more opportunities for criminals to take advantage of us. Worst of all, some of the devices are not as secure as we would like them to be. The sad part about it is that the only way for us to find out about it is to check every device to ensure that the information it keeps is encrypted, that the device has firewalls to prevent unauthorized users from accessing it, and that the security software of the device has been kept up to date.

Since we are being attacked by cybercriminals on an ongoing basis we should try to abide by the following:

  • Use only the minimum information needed to accomplish your goals.
  • Only allow authorized users access to your information.
  • Keep all software-dependent devices up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Conduct an inventory of any device where your information resides.
  • At least once a year, more frequently if needed, repeat the steps mentioned above.

By the way, the same is true from the standpoint of HIPAA Security with the only difference being one of terminology. For example, replace your personal information with Individually Identifiable Health Information (IIHI) and/or electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). Also, think of the steps mentioned above and compare the same to HIPAA’s Security Risk Analysis (SRA). Of course, the SRA is quite more complex than what you will accomplish at home, yet the goal is the same.

In summary, start the new year right and make awareness and security part of your daily routine.