Thinking About Data Security
Having all of your client data in one place, where your staff can access it easily and efficiently, can certainly improve the way your data collection works and help improve the services you provide to clients. However, there are also some real data security concerns that go along with this. There are many things you can do in HIFIS to address some of these concerns but you also play an important role in protecting the data. Below are some of the things to consider when implementing HIFIS to make sure your client information remains safe and confidential.
What you can do in HIFIS
Password Management: Passwords are like the keys to your information. Every user who logs into HIFIS has a key. The more users you have, the more opportunities these keys have to be lost or stolen. You and your staff can minimize the risk of unauthorized people gaining access to your data by:
- Varying your passwords for different applications—if one password becomes compromised, you do not want to lose the security of your other applications
- Having Users change their passwords often. You can set how often in the HIFIS Defaults screen
- Making your passwords hard to guess but easy for you to remember – you don’t want to have to write them down
Assign User Rights: HIFIS makes it easy to ensure that users only have access to the data they need to do their jobs. This is discussed in depth in HIFIS Set-Up: Adding Users.
Set your file paths to a secure location: In HIFIS, you can change the location where your Backups, Photos, Signatures and Documents are saved. Consider setting this location to one that only HIFIS users can access.
Backup your data regularly: The more often you backup your data, the less data will be lost if something happens to your system. You can set Backup Reminders in the HIFIS Defaults screen. You may want to store a copy of the backups on removable media like a CD/DVD or an external USB storage device, which is kept in a secure location such as a locked cabinet or safe.
What you can do outside of HIFIS
Lock your computer: Getting in the habit of locking your computer workstation, or any terminal that can access HIFIS data, when it is unsupervised will ensure that client records and other files are not easily accessed.
Update your other software: Most software companies, such as Microsoft, release regular updates. These often include updates to the security measures in the software to keep up with the latest advances in this field.
Secure your wireless network: If you offer wireless internet to your clients, you may want to have a separate wireless network for your HIFIS network. You can also make sure that unauthorized people, such as people passing by on the street, cannot get access to your network by turning on WPA or WEP encryption. Each wireless router supports different encryption protocols, so make sure you read up on your particular model for more information.
Secure your remote network: If you are using HIFIS over a wide area network using remote access technology such as VPN or a terminal server, there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed. Consult with an expert in network security and make sure you fully understand the security implications before implementing this type of system.
Don’t forget the physical location: Implementing proper password management and encryption protocols will not help protect your computer if the physical machine is stolen or damaged in some way. Consider keeping servers and other computers behind locked doors and remember that a laptop is much easier to steal than a desktop.
Best practices for HIFIS users
Making data security part of your HIFIS implementation and training is a good way to make sure that your staff are aware of the risks associated with today’s technology. Give them the tools they need to minimize these risks. Having your staff practise the habits below will ensure that confidential data, whether in HIFIS or not, is safe and secure:
- Lock your computer
- Protect your password, don’t write it down or share it with anyone and change it often
- Don’t leave unauthorized people alone with access to confidential data
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