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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Don’t underestimate a strong password

Today, nearly all personal matters can be handled through digital devices. You can do your online banking, file a tax return and book a cross-country vacation all while on the go. Cell phones, tablets and computers have also made it easier than ever to manage our health, from booking appointments to tracking prescriptions and reviewing the results of a recent X-ray.

But with identity theft and other cybercrimes on the rise, it’s important to keep an eye on security.  Don’t leave it to others to do. 

“Remember that, just like your physical health, online health is something that needs to be maintained. It’s not a once and done thing,” said Dan Zimmerman, cybersecurity manager in the Geisinger Information Security Office. 

For example, although it’s more work, do not use the same user name and password for all your accounts. Move away from the use of a single password and begin using passphrases, which will be more difficult for an attacker to crack. Make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and that you have applied the latest security patches to whatever devices you are using. Some malware will reside in the memory of your device, so rebooting the device at intervals will help to prevent this type of malware from remaining in device memory.

Data is money
Personal data and internet history are valuable commodities that can be used for anything from explaining consumer behavior to assisting with a scam. Even items as innocuous as your name, birth date, purchase history or location can help thieves access your accounts or open new ones in your name. 

“Personal information is the currency of the Dark Web,” said Zimmerman. “You need to value and protect it.”

Be thoughtful when filling out online forms or distributing your information, and keep an eye on the permissions requested by various apps. 

Protect your phone (and tablet!)
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our phones are as strong as some computers. Because of these capabilities, our phones should always be password-locked or protected with fingerprint or biometric recognition. 

“If you’ve ever emailed your doctor or insurance provider, information from that exchange can potentially remain on your phone and can be accessed if it’s lost or stolen,” said Zimmerman. “An unlocked phone is a treasure trove of personal information.”

Using strong and original passphrases that include letters, numbers and characters will also keep you protected, even if one of your accounts is compromised. 

Don’t be fooled by phishing scams 
Thieves can use links in emails, social media posts and online advertising to lure you to false webpages that are styled to look like the websites you know and trust. This can be misleading and cause you to input login credentials or payment information. If the URL looks suspicious or you’re not sure where the email came from, do not open any links or attachments. 

“Another rule of thumb is to check the web address. If you’re surfing on an HTTPS web link, the connection is encrypted providing protection for your data,” said Zimmerman. “An HTTP web link, without the “S” on the end, is not secure and should be avoided.”

Phishing scams can also happen via telephone thanks to caller ID spoofing. The number that shows up on your caller ID may not be accurate. Be cautious if someone calls you seeking personal or financial information. One option is to tell them you’ll call back to a number you know is familiar. When in doubt, reach out to that organization on your own — whether it be your bank, your credit card company, your doctor, hospital or insurance provider — to inquire about the call you received.
Person logging into password protected phone
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