Virus and malware programs often change browser settings, alter system files and create new default Web pages. Typically, infected systems are plagued with new tool bars and a constant barrage of pop-up ads. More importantly, malware also causes computers to perform poorly. In some cases, your files may be encrypted and held ransom.  The following are a few simple tips to keep in mind in order to prevent virus and/or malware infecting your computer.

  • Installing and running anti-virus software is the first line of defense to prevent infections and attacks against your computer. There is also software specifically designed for detecting and removing malware, spyware and adware (such as Spybot and Malwarebytes) that reinforce your security software. However, there's more to just loading the software. You must also keep the definition database updated and run automated virus scans frequently.
  • Be aware of the dangers of file sharing on the internet. The programs required to participate in peer-to-peer networks do not just help people share music files. They share whatever they can find on the hard drive and the network. The use of file-sharing operations usually leads to situations in which computers -- and even networks -- are infected with spyware, malware and back doors left ajar for hackers.  Additionally, it can open holes in your security where patient information can be accessed.
  • Don't buy anything promoted in a spam message. Don't reply to spam and never click on its "unsubscribe" link. That simply informs the sender that your e-mail address is valid. In addition, if your e-mail program has a preview pane, it's a good idea to disable it in order to prevent the spam from reporting back to its sender.  This information is used to more specifically target you.
  • If you get lots of spam, check your Internet service provider's filtering features and compare them with those of third parties. To help the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) control spam, you can forward any spam you receive to spam@uce.gov.
  • There are thousands of banner ads and popups on the internet that are designed to get your attention and make you click. Due to the way most modern browsers work, there are very few ways for you to get infected with something online unless you click on it yourself. Therefore, avoid clicking on banners for offers that are too good to be true.
  • Make sure your browser is configured to always ask before running files and downloading automatically. If you have to confirm everything, you are much less likely to get infected. Only click links and downloads from sites that you trust.
  • Make regular backups of important work and data, and check that the backups were successful. Many service providers offer onsite as well as offsite storage options, such as myCompliance Backup. If you are using physical tapes or drives for your backup, you are responsible for finding a safe place to store your backups.  You also need to have a recovery plan with data stored off-site in case of fire or other natural disasters. If your computer is infected with malware, you will be able to restore any lost programs and data. Any sensitive backup information should be encrypted and physically secured.

Also remember, pursuant to the HIPAA Rules, patients must be notified if a breach does occurs, which affects their medical records. The HIPAA Rules defines a breach as an impermissible use or disclosure under the Privacy Rule that compromises the security or privacy of the protected health information such that the use or disclosure poses a significant risk of financial, reputational, or other harm to the affected individual.

The internet is an integral part of our lives, and many of us use it constantly throughout the day. But that connectedness has increased the risk of infection by viruses and malware, leading to potential data loss and identity theft. By following the above tips and becoming actively engaged in your own security, you will be able to prevent virus/malware from damaging your system.

For more information, or if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at Allpoint Compliance Solutions, LLC.

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