Tip of the Week: How to Keep Your Computer Maintained

computer maintenance

The modern computer is an absolute marvel, so it only makes sense that they come with an equally extravagant price tag. Understandably, when making this kind of investment – whether for personal or business use – you’d want it to last as long as possible. For this week’s tip, we clue you in on five valuable pieces of information you can do to protect your computer from wear and tear, extending its lifespan and functionality. 

Keep your hardware and software up to date

Would you believe some people can use the same general hardware for almost a decade before replacing it? By keeping everything updated, you could too! Most people using older hardware have upgraded away from the old hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid-state drive (SSD) and upgraded the RAM. 

Also, as much as you hate to hear it, you should never ignore those software update notifications. Keeping your hardware and software as up-to-date as possible allows for smoother program performance and less strain on the components of your system.

Clean your hardware regularly

You need to be cleaning your computer inside and out. Even though laptop computers are standard nowadays and we tend to take them for granted, they’re still machines with very intricate parts. These computers demand a clean environment to work optimally. So, be sure to perform regular computer cleaning. Keep dust out of the fan and crevices, and never have spillable drinks near your keyboard! 

You may be thinking: “Ok, but how do you clean the inside of your computer?” Regular file maintenance. Users with a high percentage of their local storage used up will undoubtedly find their computers get sluggish. 

Protect your computer

Because most laptops today are durable and won’t crack open at the first fall, people overlook protecting their computer’s physical well-being. But did you know that even if you don’t notice any exterior damage on the computer, frequent rough treatment can cause it to break down over time? So, our third user tip is to be sure to buy a padded carrying bag, hard shell laptop case, and have it plugged into a surge protector.

Run your antivirus scan frequently 

Viruses are a common reason that computers crash. So, a critical user tip is to run your virus scan frequently. You can even set it to run automatically when away from your device. A high-quality antivirus tool can help you avoid the millions of issues that computers can encounter from potential malware. Businesses should have a centralized antivirus that protects every device on the network to ensure software and information security.

Please don’t treat it like a light switch.

Your computer isn’t a light switch. You do not have to turn it off every time you’re done using it. This changes the temperatures inside, which in turn adds stress to the components of the computer. Limiting the stress on the system by allowing your computer to run while not using it can prevent you from needing to invest in new hardware prematurely. 

These tips may seem simple, but you’d be shocked how far they can go in protecting your computer. At WheelHouse IT, we keep businesses’ IT running smoothly and help implement practices just like these. Give us a call at 954-474-2204 to talk to one of our consultants about your company’s IT support needs.

3 Cybersecurity Strategies Businesses Must Think About

cyber security

If your business struggles with network security, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most challenging parts of running a business, and even if you do invest a ton of time, effort, and money into your security systems, chances are you could still be doing at least something better. Today, we want to talk about three ways you can improve your company’s security without completely draining your bank account.

Encrypt Whenever Possible

Encryption in and of itself will make your data and communications more secure. Encryption scrambles your data so that it is unrecognizable to your average viewer. Encryption helps to keep your data secure from those who might harm it or steal it. Some common ways businesses implement encryption include virtual private networks, which encrypt traffic moving to and from your network to any connected devices. Other businesses might encrypt data storage, as well as communications. If you want to get started with encryption, a good place to begin is by calling us!

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is a practice which attempts to make the password obsolete through the implementation of additional authentication measures. Basically, instead of using one credential to access an account, you use multiple credentials of various types. We recommend that you use something you have (a smartphone), something you know (a password), and something you are (a biometric) to keep as many accounts secure as possible. With so many barriers to your data, hackers are sure to hesitate against your network.

Practice Zero-Trust Policies

Zero-trust policies have gained a lot of traction in the business world, and it’s easy to see why. They are a means to guarantee that whoever is accessing important data on your infrastructure is who they claim to be. If the user cannot verify their identity, they cannot access the data, period. This goes for anyone, not just the average office worker. Even executives are subject to the same zero-trust policies. This helps to make data much more secure and controlled, and while it can be a bit tricky to implement, we recommend trying it out if you can.

Don’t let security be a major pain point for your business. Get started with better solutions today by reaching out to us at 954.474.2204.

Contact Us Today and Check Out Our Blog!

What Counts as a HIPAA Violation? – Wheelhouse IT

hipaa breach feature

HIPAA Violation: What You Need to Know

Health information is not always as private as you might believe. HIPAA violations can occur without your knowledge, putting your health at risk. These serious violations can result in fines, suspension of hospital privileges, including health plans, and criminal charges. We’ll go over HIPAA, what constitutes a HIPAA violation, and how to keep your health information safe. Read on to find out how to avoid this from happening to you.

What Is HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) ensured individuals’ health information privacy and security. The act establishes national standards for protecting electronic healthcare information and prevents healthcare fraud. It also requires covered entities, such as hospitals and doctors, to take steps to protect the confidentiality of protected health information.

HIPAA violations can happen without your knowledge. Only health care providers, their business associates, and the government can access protected health information. Individuals who knowingly obtain or disclose PHI in any manner not permitted by HIPAA may be subject to penalties for violations to criminal fines, and imprisonment for many years.

10 Most Common HIPAA Violations

There are several ways in which individuals can violate HIPAA. Some of the most common violation examples include:

  1. Unlawful disclosures of sensitive health information (PHI): This is when someone knowingly obtains or discloses protected health information in any manner not permitted by HIPAA. For example, sharing PHI with friends or family members, posting it on social media, or selling it to third-party companies.
  2. Unauthorized access to protected health information: This refers to accessing protected health information on another computer without proper authorization. For instance, accessing medical records of someone you do not know or shareseveralseveral your PHI with unauthorized individuals.
  3. Failure to record and log compliance efforts: This is when PHI is disposed of in a way that does not protect the individual’s privacy. For example, throwing protected health information into the trash can where others can easily access it.
  4. Failure to complete a risk assessment: By law, individuals must assess the safeguards needed to protect PHI. It includes what type of information needs to be protected and what steps need to be taken to remain private.
  5. Failure to manage threats to PHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability: This includes implementing safeguards to protect PHI from unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction.
  6. Failure to conduct risk analyses when appropriate to maintain PHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility: This often leads to HIPAA violations. It includes failure to properly password protect electronic PHI, including digital files, using unencrypted email to transmit PHI and unprotected health information on computers or networks.
  7. Inability to keep and monitor PHI access logs: This is a requirement of HIPAA. Access logs must be kept for six years and include the individual’s name, who accessed PHI, what information was accessed, and when it was accessed.
  8. Failure to enter into a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement with vendors before providing PHI access: Under HIPAA, all covered entities who handle PHI must have a business associate agreement in place. This document spells out the terms and conditions of how protected health information will be shared between the parties involved.
  9. Failure to give copies of PHI to patients upon request Failure to set access controls to limit who can view PHI: This allows individuals only to view the specific information they are authorized to see.
  10. Failure to terminate PHI access rights when they are no longer needed: This includes former employees, students, volunteers, and other individuals who have had access to protected health information.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Health Information

There are a number of things you can do to protect your health information and avoid HIPAA violations. Some of the most important include:

Keep Your Personal Health Information (PHI) Confidential 

Avoid disclosure of PHI to anyone who is not authorized to receive it. Do not, for example, share your private health information with friends or family members who are not involved in your healthcare.

Make Sure Your Healthcare Providers Are HIPAA Compliant

Only give PHI to individuals who need it for their work. Ask what they plan to do with the information and if you agree, then share the data. For instance, if you have surgery, your doctor will need to know about all of your allergies.

Always Read Any Agreements Before Allowing Third Party Access to Your Health Records

Ensure you have read and understood the business associate agreement before granting third-party access to patient records. This document specifies the terms and conditions under which PHI may be used and the privacy safeguards that will be in place. Before any of a patient’s PHI can be disclosed to a third party for a purpose other than those expressly permitted by the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the patient must sign an authorization form.

Use a Secure Email System

When emailing PHI, use a secure email system to protect the information from unauthorized individuals. For example, the PHI should be encrypted and protected by a password.

Report Any Data Breaches 

If you become aware of security breaches, report them to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) immediately. For instance, if your health information is stolen from your doctor’s office, you should report the incident to HHS.

Review Your Notice of Privacy Practices

You should review and understand what PHI is included in the notice of privacy practice to know that you cannot share information without authorization. For example, a doctor’s office may consist of your Social Security number in the notice of privacy practices.

By taking these steps, you can help protect the privacy of patients’ health information and avoid HIPAA violations. HIPAA violations can happen without your knowledge, but you can take steps to protect yourself. 

 

By keeping personal health information confidential and sharing only what is needed, individuals can keep their health information safe and avoid HIPAA violations. This can be avoided through proper employee training and enforcement by a compliance officer or other staff member.

The Consequences of Violating HIPAA

Potential violations of HIPAA can face a number of consequences, including violation fines and imprisonment. Fines for violating HIPAA are with a minimum of $50,000 per violation, with a maximum of $250,000 per year for violations of the same provision.

Healthcare Employees who have access to health information who violate HIPAA may also be subject to civil penalties and imprisonment. For instance, a person who knowingly obtains or discloses protected health information without proper authorization or consent form could face imprisonment of up to one year.

In addition, all HIPAA violations have civil consequences as well. Individuals can be sued by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for breaching health information or disclosing it in violation of HIPAA. In addition, they can be sued by the person whose protected health information has been disclosed or breached.

The consequences of HIPAA violations are serious and should not be taken lightly.

Why Do We Need to Know About HIPAA Violations?

HIPAA violations occur every year and can have serious consequences. For example, what you do with your health information could affect the rest of your life if it is exposed in a data breach or shared without authorization. Also, what we share about our healthcare may impact others’ lives when they need to find a doctor who can treat them. By taking steps to protect your health information, you can avoid what may be a costly mistake that could follow you for the rest of your life.

Individuals need to be aware of HIPAA violations to protect their health information. By understanding the different ways to violate HIPAA, individuals can take steps to ensure their PHI remains confidential. Knowing what to do if a data breach occurs will help limit the damage if unauthorized access to PHI occurs. You should only share PHI with those who need to know, and all individuals need to understand what constitutes HIPAA violations.

 

Wheelhouse IT Managed Service Provider Offers HIPAA Compliant Solutions

Healthcare IT is a complex and ever-changing field. The regulations and compliance requirements can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned health care professional. 

Wheelhouse IT Managed Service Provider offers HIPAA compliant cloud hosting, disaster recovery, managed backup solutions to help your organization comply with HIPAA guidelines while saving you time and money. We also offer HIPAA compliance training and internal audits to businesses like yours. We know how confusing it can be to find out what’s required of you by law, so we have created this website as an easy reference guide to all things HIPAA-related. 

Our services are designed specifically for the Healthcare Industry, which means our team has worked directly with clients in your position before. Hence, we understand exactly what additional layer of support you need when it comes to security compliance issues like these. We offer a variety of different packages that will fit any budget or needs ranging from complete end-to-end management, including hardware installation/configuration, software installation/configuration, network setup/troubleshooting & monitoring, to remote 24/7 support and access to our secure HIPAA compliant cloud hosting platform.

If you are looking for a hassle-free, worry-free way to keep your healthcare data safe and compliant, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We would be more than happy to discuss our HIPAA-compliant hosting solutions with you in more detail and answer any questions you may have.

Please feel free to browse our website or contact us directly today at (877) 771-2384 to find out how we can help your medical practice, hospital, clinic, laboratory, dentist office, or other healthcare facility meet HIPAA requirements quickly and easily at a price that fits your budget.

 

We look forward to working with you to make your medical practice or organization HIPAA compliant, and you can be sure that because we are committed to helping healthcare and other medical facilities like yours meet their compliance requirements, we will do everything in our power to keep your data safe.

Phishing Attacks Are Still Getting More Sophisticated

Credit card phishing attack concept, stealing credit card details with fishing hook on laptop keyboard

Phishing attacks are nothing new in the business world, and they will almost certainly become more prevalent as time passes. Unfortunately, phishing attacks have adapted their practices to get around advancements in security technology, so businesses must work extra hard to spread awareness of phishing to their employees and train them appropriately.

Let’s discuss some of the ways your business might become the target of a phishing attack. There might even be some avenues on this list you may not have considered!

Traditional Email Phishing

Email phishing is the primary method of phishing used by hackers because of how easy it is to send mass emails to countless recipients. These phishing emails often ask users to click on links, download attachments, or confirm sensitive information. A spam filter is often enough to block most phishing emails, but spear-phishing attacks that are focused on one individual user can often make their way through.

Phone Scams

Sometimes hackers will call or text users and ask them to confirm sensitive information, like their date of birth, credit card number, etc. Especially around the holiday season, you may see texts with links to what is supposedly shipping information on a product you have ordered, but in reality, it is a link to download malware or a trap to collect your sensitive information.

Fake Websites

These are particularly crafty, as they can often mirror actual websites with slight variations of their domain name. Common targets for fake website creation are banks, well-known retailers like Amazon, and government agencies. Always assess whether you are on the correct page, and look for encryption in the URL, before entering sensitive information into any websites you encounter.

Social Media Phishing

A recent trend in the cyberthreat space is social media phishing, where hackers use social media as an intermediary for spreading threats. They might use social media messaging apps to contact people directly, or they may make posts that are seemingly quite legitimate but are in fact designed to spread malware or harvest credentials. You must be very careful on social media to avoid phishing attacks.

Ultimately, the best way to safeguard your business from potential phishing attacks is to increase awareness throughout your business. This means having a training protocol implemented for your employees, both new and existing, and constantly reinforcing cybersecurity best practices.

WheelHouse IT can not only help you implement security solutions for enhanced protection, but we can also train your employees and reinforce appropriate cybersecurity practices through periodic testing. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) 771-2384 ext. 2.

3 Reasons Why Open-Source Software Can Be Problematic

programmer working lady using computer laptop working on unlock lock with coding symbol.

Every business uses some form of software, whether it’s for word processing or detecting malware. When you add up the costs for programs to open and edit PDFs, perform basic accounting, and create images, it’s tempting to see what’s available through open-source channels.

Although finding open-source software will inevitably cut down on your business’s costs, it is intrinsically problematic, and we’ll show you three reasons why you should avoid it when you can.

What is Open-Source Software?

Open-source software (OSS) is a type of software that is provided to the general public along with its source code. That means programmers can take that code and alter it to suit their needs or fix it up over time. This software also comes with rules about how to control its distribution. Needless to say, most big-name software companies would never do this.

How Does Open-Source Software Work?

Open-source software works by being stored in a public place, often on websites, where the product can be viewed and distributed. Anyone can download the software and use the code or offer suggested changes to it.

Furthermore, OSS comes with a license agreement that details how people can use, alter, and distribute the software. When the OSS code is changed, the alterations and methods used to make those changes have to be detailed in the documentation, and some changes in functionality may not be available to all users free of charge. They’ll become a premium service.

Problems with Open-Source Software

Although it may be tempting to completely outfit a business with OSS, that might not be a wise decision. Take a look at three problems inherent in using open-source software.

Licensing Issues

The legal uncertainty surrounding open-source licenses poses a real threat to small businesses. When using OSS, there is no way for most people to know if the software has code that was copied from another company. If your business was ever caught using legally protected code without permission, the legal consequences could be dire, to say the least. It would certainly cost more than a yearly license renewal.

Vulnerabilities Are Made Public

The year 2021 might go down in history as being one of the worst for ransomware and hacking. More people are figuring out how to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and get away with it.

You may have already figured out the problem with OSS and security: the code is available to everyone, including hackers. These vulnerabilities are made public all the time, and it only takes a savvy person to figure out how to exploit the system and become a threat.

Not Knowing Your Sources

How do you know whether to trust an OSS? The truth is that trust for an OSS comes from a majority opinion of users and developers, and it is built over time. Yet, new open-source programs are being released all the time.

Imagine that you need an accounting program, and you choose to download the first OSS version you find, but it doesn’t have a positive consensus from users and reviewers.  You’ve just put yourself and your business at risk because you do not know the source of the code.

It could be stolen code, a malware trap, or trouble of another sort.

Not all OSS is bad, but there are some bad ones out there, and you need the confidence to say you can tell the difference.

Open-source software is highly customizable but often not as well polished as software from major companies. To avoid the risks associated with OSS, it’s often better to pay for a licensing fee and get the ongoing security and trust that comes from working with an established company.

WheelHouse IT is a gold-level Microsoft partner who can help you get the most out of your software.
Learn more at our Microsoft page or contact us so we can help evaluate your needs and point you in the right direction.