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From the PHP Team

Seven tips for securing your Personal Health Information

By: Travis StevensPHP's Director of IT, Infrastructure, and Security

Learn why protecting your personal health information is just as important, if not more, as guarding your credit card and banking data

Did you know that your Personal Health Information (PHI) is 10-40 times more valuable to hackers than your credit card data? This is because the loss of a credit card is often mitigated with a quick phone call to your bank. The repercussions of losing your PHI, however, can last a lifetime.

Why is your PHI so valuable?

A PHI record is a treasure trove of information. Not only can it contain your address, phone number, financial information, and social security number, but it also contains your medical history—a string of data that cannot be erased or replaced, as much as we may want it to.

This is why healthcare organizations, like PHP, wage a silent-but-constant war on your behalf to protect and keep private all of your personal information, our personal information. This war does not sleep or break for the holidays, as the consequences at stake are a potential lifetime of fighting identity theft and being targeted with a barrage of solicitations and scams.

We don’t take this responsibility lightly, so we invest significantly in the protection of your data. While we will always continue to take action, there are things you can do to help us in that fight.

Here are seven tips all individuals should consider:

  1. Use Strong, Unique Passwords

    With how many passwords we are forced to use in our modern, technology-driven society, it can be a daunting task to have a unique password for each. But if there is one instance where you really shouldn’t reuse the family Netflix password, logging in to your health portals is it.

  2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

    An increasingly common offering, two-factor authentication, is proven to be a highly effective weapon against malicious intent. Often as simple as typing in a code received by text, this invaluable resource should be used whenever possible.

  3. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts

    Phishing emails often request information, especially login credentials. Be wary of these requests and be guarded in your replies.

  4. Regularly Update Software

    We all dislike downtime, but many software updates do not simply add features, they implement specialized code to prevent newly discovered threats.

  5. Avoid Insecure Networks

    Publicly accessible Wi-Fi, such as that found in hotels and coffee shops, can put your device at a greater risk of attack. It’s best to avoid navigating websites with sensitive information while in these places.

  6. Monitor Your Records

    It’s easy to toss an explanation of benefits in the trash, especially when the documents are expected and regular, but keeping an eye on what you are being charged for, is a fantastic way to see if your information has been compromised. Regularly look at your records to ensure there are not unexpected charges.

  7. Educate Yourself on Data Privacy

    Threats are constantly evolving and the greatest resource we have is information. Dive as deep as you feel comfortable, keeping abreast of tips, tools, and tricks to protect yourself is often well worth the time.

In the age of digital healthcare, we all must be proactive in protecting sensitive information. While your health plan is taking steps to protect your data, you also play a role in keeping your PHI out of the hands of hackers and in avoiding identify theft and data issues down the road. Take the first step and put a few of these tips into action today!