As a travel allied health or nursing professional, using your laptop and phone is an integral part of how you stay connected. However, your devices can put you at high risk for security breaches and make your digital footprint unsafe. Technology is advancing for travel nursing and travel therapy communities; therefore, these advances also affect how easily personal information can be stolen. Avoid any unwanted hacking and keep your data safe by following these tips!
Learn How Cybercrime Works
No matter how little you are using your email or devices, you are a target to hackers if you are accessing the internet. Developing a basic understanding of how hackers can retrieve information and cause disruption in your life can save you in the long run. Cyber hackers use malware, ransomware, viruses, and phishing attacks to steal data. Malware is primarily used to retrieve your sensitive information, while ransomware allows the thief to hold your computer data hostage, forcing you to pay a ransom to get it back. Each type of attack seeks out a specific type of user, so different protective mechanisms should be enacted depending on how you use your computer, smartphone, etc. Cyber-attacks can occur on both your personal and work laptop, as well as your mobile device. Items stored on your phone, such as private pictures, addresses, credit card information, phone numbers, and a list of passwords, are all susceptible to being stolen. It is critical to understand how you can be hacked and what to do to prevent it from happening.
Generate Strong Passwords
Having a unique, strong password is a big part of keeping our information protected. Although being required to have a unique password so frequently can feel like a nuisance, the benefits of doing so are crucial when it comes to securing your sensitive data. Strong passwords require a few key factors, including eight or more characters, combinations of lowercase, uppercase, special characters, and numbers. It’s also vital to use words and phrases unrelated to personal, retrievable information (pet’s name, the town you grew up in). On top of creating a secure password, you can also use password management programs like Keeper to help you generate strong, protected passwords and set reminders to update your passwords periodically to reinforce security.
Consider Who You Are Emailing
Allowing your email to be more public makes it more susceptible to be targeted by hackers. You should only be sharing your work email with contacts that are within your professional network, office, and company. Providing your work email for personal matters or organizations outside of your office is not only poor professional practice, but it can also create more opportunities for security breaches. The best way to avoid any breach in secure information on your work email is to share it minimally and only when necessary.
Protect Attachments You’re Sending
Many people don’t realize that once you hit send on an email, the message and attachment don’t directly send to the recipient. Third-party servers are used to send the email where it needs to go. With that comes opportunities for cybercriminals to steal information along the email’s path. Specific measures can be put in place to protect your sensitive data sending from your emails. For instance, adding passwords to an attachment or placing it in a zip file disables hackers from tampering or infecting files on their way to the recipient. By taking these simple steps, you will be protecting your secure information and reducing your chance of being hacked.
Practice Email Security
Putting yourself on high alert for emails you receive and the content they carry is vital to keeping your information safe. Keeping an eye out for red flags, along with education and training about hacker tactics and how to avoid phishing scams, are necessary to protect your work email and information related to it. Phishing emails are advancing and becoming very convincing these days and can be hard to detect. Often, they will gain your personal information by asking you to enter your login, passwords, banking information, etc. There are several ways you can deter unwelcome hackers from stealing your information, but you are the first defense. Avoid opening unexpected emails and attachments and report them immediately. Do not unsubscribe from spam emails, as this is another way to trick you into opening access to your data. By being vigilant in managing your emails, you are strides ahead of keeping your information safe.
Be Cautious of Public Connections
Keeping your internet connection safe is just as important as keeping yourself healthy. Although it may be tempting to use a local coffee shop’s wi-fi to check your email, public wi-fi networks are not protected and can put you at risk for security breaches. This problem can also come up when clinicians like to complete their work after leaving the office for the day. Do your best to avoid using any unsecured networks to access work information. If you need to check your email outside of the office, it is safer to access this on your mobile device or pay for an internet dongle that can be used with your laptop when you are not in the office.
Limit Your Personal Info on Social Media
While social media is a great place to feel connected, it can also be a dangerous arena for hackers to access knowledge about you. Cybercriminals will use bits and pieces of your shared profile and bios from each social media account, as well as who you connect with to figure out answers to your security questions on work and personal accounts. You may not be able to hide all the details about your life; however, you can be proactive by analyzing what you are sharing along different platforms to protect yourself.
Keep Your Mobile Devices Safe
Travel nursing requires the use of a mobile device for not only your work, but also to stay connected to your family and friends. You are likely using your phone for a lot of different reasons through a variety of apps and websites. Your mobile device can also put you at risk for stolen personal data because they are also subject to hacking through emails, phishing scams, and downloaded apps. Attacks can occur for several reasons, including poorly manufactured apps. Also, when apps remain running or “on” frequently, this makes your data easier to access. Prevent this from happening by using different passwords for each app on your device, and always make sure wi-fi and Bluetooth connections are secure.
Additionally, Android and Apple devices come with their own specific risk factors. For Android users, you can be most at risk of getting hacked when using a third-party app designed to look and act like popular apps to fool you. The best way to stay on top of this is to carefully read the app information before downloading and using only the Google Play Store for downloading to avoid the fakes. Apple users should be aware of “trustjacking,” which occurs when you plug your phone in through a USB port into a computer. Your phone will ask if you want to trust the computer, and once granting that trust, you are putting your secure information at risk. Be aware of what you are giving access to on your phone just as much as you do your computer and email to maintain a safe digital footprint.
In our current culture, understanding cybercrime and how to best avoid it is crucial. The increasing amount that we are using our laptops, emails, and phones to perform day-to-day activities that may have personal information stored is automatically putting us at risk for security breaches. By following these steps to create a more secure internet and mobile device environment, you are closer to avoiding any unwanted hacks and disruption in your life.