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As a medical professional who works in the healthcare services industry, you have exposed to personal and private information that others are not. As such, it’s up to you to take extra precautionary measures to protect this information — and your data.

One of the key steps in doing this is probably something you’ve been doing wrong for years — connecting to public WiFi.

As a medical professional, it’s important to remember that you should only connect your personal or work devices to secure WiFi services in healthcare settings — never to the WiFi at a gym, grocery store, library, coffee shop, fast food restaurant, or anywhere else.

What’s wrong with connecting to public WiFi?

Any medical professional who makes an Internet connection not within secure WiFi services in healthcare could be sacrificing personal information and private patient information. How? You become susceptible to hackers.

Hackers in settings where there is unsecured WiFi can get between your device and the WiFi connection point. This allows them to access virtually any or all of the information on your device — be it a cell phone, tablet, laptop, or other devices.

How can I prevent hacking but still occasionally use free WiFi?

There are some things you can do to prevent the hacking of your personal or others’ private information while still using free public WiFi or other unsecured WiFi networks.

If you are in a situation where you must use one of these connections …

1. Never directly access personal, private, or other sensitive information.

You should only use an unsecured network connection for the bare necessities, and even in these cases, you should avoid entering any personal or private data at all costs.

As a medical professional, this means not signing in to your work email, not messaging over a work messenger system, and of course, never accessing patient information. On a private level, you should also avoid logging into email, social media, and financial institution accounts.

2. Don’t “sign in”anywhere.

Many fast food, airport, or library connections will ask that you “register” or “sign in” into their sites to obtain a quicker or better connection. Avoid this whenever possible as it, of course, entails entering your personal information (see #1).

3. Add a layer of encryption when browsing the web.

You essentially want to create an encrypted connection between your device’s browser and the web server. For most devices, this means enabling an SSL connection. To do this, on any of the websites you visit, look for the feature, “always use https://” and enable it.

Your Best Bet? Invest in Unlimited Data

Lastly, if you genuinely want to avoid security problems associated with unsecured WiFi networks, invest in an unlimited data plan for your devices and never use unknown systems.

WiFi security in healthcare is a substantial threat to patients and medical institutions. Always play it safe and follow the guidelines above for best practices.

GDS works with Local Hospitals, Covered Entities and Business Associates Across the United States.

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