Travel nurses interact with sensitive information daily with patient records, but how much do you pay attention to the security of your own personal information? As a travel nurse, you’re likely using your credit card in different states, connecting to different WiFi networks and like most people, shopping online. All of those can present a potential risk to your personal information. Here we look at some ways to protect your personal info, both physically and digitally.
Protect and lock your devices
Just about everyone has a smartphone or tablet today. All it takes is a single mishap where your device falls out of your pocket at a restaurant or on a bus or subway, and your data could wind up in the hands of someone who could use it maliciously.
The easiest way to prevent your info from being stolen is locking your device. When your device is locked, a thief has to crack your password before gaining access to your phone and personal information, adding an extra layer of protection. If you have an Apple device, we recommend enabling Touch ID so only you can unlock your device.
Another way to protect yourself on the go especially is to disable Bluetooth when you're not using it. Bluetooth is a convenience to the mobile world, but it also opens the door for vulnerabilities. Most Bluetooth threats are dependent on an active Bluetooth connection. Regardless of the security features on your device, the only way to completely prevent attackers from exploiting the permission request/grant process is to power off your device’s Bluetooth function when you’re not using it.
Dealing with Passwords
Passwords are easily cracked by hackers, particularly if you don't use best practices in creating them. The best passwords contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters – this is now often required. You should also avoid using easily guessed words or alphanumeric combinations, such as the names of children or pets, birth dates, addresses, and similar information that can be easily guessed by someone looking at your Facebook profile or through a Google search. It’s also wise not to use the same the same password for more than one account or service, like having your email account and online banking share a password.
When creating a password, consider using a passphrase.
A passphrase is simply a different way of thinking about a much longer password. Your passphrase can be a favorite song lyric, quote from a book, magazine, or movie, or something your kids said last week. Maybe think of a saying or series of words that is easy for you to remember, and use the first letter of each word in the phrase, along with a combination of numbers and special characters, as your passphrase.
Lastly, one of the top reasons a device is hacked? The user wrote the password on the device or put a post-it note on it! A Post-It note stuck to the outside of your laptop or tablet is like leaving your keys in your car seat.
Backup your data and documents
One of the most basic ways to protect your personal info is to backup your data. This creates a duplicate copy of your data so that if a device is lost, stolen, or compromised, you don't also lose your important information. It's best to create a backup on a different device, such as an external hard drive, so that you can easily recover your information when the original device becomes compromised. Using cloud-based backup has also become secure enough to trust for backup. Since data is not stored on a local device, it's easily accessible even when your hardware becomes compromised.
When to comes to physical documents, one of the best backup methods is keeping originals in a safety deposit box at your local bank. Fireproof and secure, the odds of anything happening to it are slim-to-none. Keep your birth certificate, passport, nursing license and anything else in the box – if you need it, most places will accept a copy. Make several copies of the documents at a time so you don’t have to continue to remove items from the box.
Shred old documents and statements
Most people receive a lot of mail largely considered junk mail. Credit card statements, bank account statements, notifications regarding other accounts, credit card offers, and more hit our mailboxes every day. While paperless billing and statements has made printed statements unnecessary, many people simply toss these items out when they're received. But doing so without first shredding them could jeopardize your personal information.
You can shred digital information, but if it’s on a hard drive, you can destroy it. It's true that nothing is ever deleted permanently from a device. Hackers and savvy criminals are often able to recover information from hard drives if they haven't been properly disposed of. If you have an old computer or laptop, but sure to remove the hard drive and smash it before disposing of it. If you are going to sell your computer, phone or tablet, make sure you have wiped it using the operating system software. If you need help with this, it’s worth a trip to the Apple Store or local computer store.
With travel nurses constantly on the go, it’s important to pay attention to these best practices and take them seriously. Coastal Healthcare is dedicated to taking care of our nurses in all aspects of their jobs. If you’re interested in working for us, contact a recruiter or search our job listings here!