South Florida Hospital News
Thursday October 18, 2018

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July 2011 - Volume 8 - Issue 1




Maintaining Data Integrity in a HIPAA Environment

So many medical practices don’t want to incur the additional expense of purchasing Anti-Virus (AV) software for the office because of the expense. Instead, they choose to run free versions of the software, or none at all. If one of your machines becomes infected, all of your machines can become damaged as a result of a virus infiltrating the network. This infiltration can also allow “back-doors” for a hacker to cause further damage, or steal patient information.
Whether you are in the medical field, or just using your computer at home to surf or email, there are some basic things that everyone should know to engage in “safe computing.”
First, try to remember that your computer, connected to the internet, is like a giant “party line” of information that - if given the chance, will allow everyone to see what you have been doing, where you have been, and most importantly, what you have on your hard drive; from personal letters to your tax returns completed on the most popular tax prep software on the market. A simple but effective measure is a good software anti-virus and firewall for each of your PC’s, Mac’s or laptops. Check with your local Cable company, if you have your internet connection through them, to see if they offer you free software, since that is a good source that will save you hundreds of dollars to start.
Whether it’s a PC, or a Mac – and yes, Mac’s get viruses too, you will need to run the software after installation to see if there is anything on your hard drive that needs to be removed. So many times I am asked three questions:
1. What about the free Antivirus software?
2. Which Antivirus software is better?
3. Is it true that Mac’s never get infected?
My standard answers are:
1. When it’s free, sometimes you get what you pay for.
2. Whether it is Trend, Mcafee, Symantec/Norton, Panda, or AVG, each one addresses things the other may not. I don’t represent any one company over another, so this will have to be a choice based on your own internet research.
3. No, Mac’s DO get infected by Malware (software designed to make your computer sick, do bad things to your data, and generally drive technicians – like myself – NUTS!
The HIPAA challenge
The HIPAA Security Rule, which came into effect in April 2005, established standards to "safeguard the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI)." Mechanisms that secure the data that resides in your office computer system like firewalls, AV Software, tracking and logging of people using the system, as well as administrative procedures, technology, and physical safeguards are critical.
Remember, just because you have installed the AV software, does not mean you don’t have to keep it up to date each month. Some companies automatically do it, but in the end, it’s up to you.
Robert Seitz is an internationally published author in the areas of technology as it relates to Physical Security, Scuba Diving Instruction, the Construction, Medical, Legal, and the Florida Restaurant Industries. He is the CTO of My Support Services Group located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He can be reached at
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