Tech Tips

Vaccinate against security breaches

vaccinate security breaches
Predictions are popular among experts in all fields, despite the risks of getting them wrong. One of 2017’s most alarming forecasts was a claim from Experian Data Breach Resolution that healthcare organizations would be heavily targeted by cyber criminals.

Was it a good prediction? Sadly, yes. Endpoint security firm Cylance released in May 2018 a threat report that found ransomware attacks tripled in 2017 – and the healthcare industry bore the brunt.

With that in mind, how can organizations store their data so it’s safe, secure and available? Every day, health organizations generate huge volumes of sensitive data, such as test results, patient reports, scans and images. What’s the best way to secure all that information?

Internal protection

Firewalls and antivirus software are no longer enough. They’re standard protection measures across most industries and organizations, but with hackers becoming more sophisticated in the way they breach security, they risk being overwhelmed. ‘Border control’ needs to be complemented by internal segmentation firewalls and solutions that limit the spread of damage when an attack occurs.

Mobile encryption

Healthcare professionals are becoming increasingly mobile, which makes phones, tablets, laptops, USB drives, printers and other mobile devices a security risk. By encrypting all devices that contain patient data, organizations reduce the risk that information will fall into the wrong hands. Supplement these measures with good security practices, such as implementing two-factor authentication, to add an extra layer of safety.

Partner security

As industries become ecosystems of interlocking service providers, data sources, users and other partners, managing third- and even fourth-party risk becomes critical. Conducting third-party security checks is time-consuming but essential. And it can’t be a one-off event; you must put systems in place to monitor their compliance and overall security posture.

Data management

They can’t steal it if you don’t have it –reducing the amount of data that you have stored can be a very effective security measure. Creating a data hygiene policy and providing staff with specific guidelines regarding what information is to be kept, and how to securely delete information that’s surplus to your needs, will go a long way to protecting patients. Always ensure, of course, that you remain in accordance with any regulation regarding the minimum retention periods for patient data, as well as other regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Device security

It’s not just patient data that’s at risk; sadly, medical devices like pacemakers, monitoring tools and other equipment can also be infiltrated. Security on such devices is often overlooked, so be sure to change passwords, control access and lock them down as securely as possible.

Contingency plans

As the security experts say, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ you’ll be attacked, it’s a matter of ‘when’. Even with a safety net of features in place to protect your organisation’s security, you need to be ready to respond if you’re attached. This includes putting in place backup and disaster recovery regimes, ensuring you can respond to a security incident 24×7, and having a communications plan – covering patients, staff, and all relevant medical, regulatory and law enforcement bodies.

The consequences of a medical data breach are wide-ranging, impacting both organizations and patients – making a comprehensive network for protecting that data essential.

 

Everything you need to know about office software

office software
When it comes to software office suites, developers are offering the flexibility to mirror a more versatile business landscape. Software is no longer an either/or proposition. Think desktop-based software versus the cloud. Or paying licensing fees versus a subscription. Or the increasing range of devices that need to access docs and presentations. Here’s what you need to know.

Key features

Office suites provide applications including word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets. Businesses are spoilt for choice. While Microsoft had the market cornered in the early days out of default, providers such as Google, Lenovo, Apple, LibreOffice, and others are muscling in. And while most vendors provide the compatibility to convert their documents to Microsoft, applications are evolving with the times by expanding their range of programs.

Alongside extras like OneNote or Calendars, providers are offering business calls, website creation, storage options and many more tools. And that includes compatibility across a selection of platforms and devices. Businesses are no longer bound to one vendor and can use Google Docs off-site, open up a Word document on the desktop back in the office or dazzle with a Prezi in a meeting.

Suggested reading:

Essential business software: Office suites

Comparing office suites: What features are vital to your workflow?

Desktop versus the cloud

While Microsoft’s upcoming Office 2019 suite will still cater for those not ready to make the jump to the cloud, many businesses have already migrated online. But what they gain in convenience is often lost in the editing power of the desktop application.

The benefits of the cloud are obvious. The ability for multiple people to work on the same document in real-time – and access it from multiple sites and devices – condemns the problem of version control to the past. But there is at least one major drawback. Conducting business in the cloud relies on everybody being connected to the internet at all times.

It is important to be aware of the pros and cons of your chosen office suite. To boost business productivity, IT managers really need to weigh convenience against functionality.

Suggested reading:

Microsoft vs Google: Making Sense of Cloud-Based Office Suites

Microsoft Office 365: Your Favorite Office Software in the Cloud

Why the Move to Cloud Office Systems is the Biggest IT Shift in 20 Years

Comparisons

Technology comes down functionality, and adopting it is often based on what we are used to or where we feel secure storing our documents. After all, printing out word documents for safe storage is still common practice. Moreover, Microsoft continues to have an almost unassailable advantage simply because its features are rusted into our psyches of how things are done in the office.

Getting your head around a new environment takes an open mind and a time commitment. For comparison, it’s as easy as signing up for a free trial or setting up some of the free web-based options such as Google Docs or the open-source LibreOffice. There really is a world of possibilities.

Then there are payment options. It makes little use to pay the full price for a suite when many of its applications lay dormant. That is why many businesses mix and match. In addition to the free offerings, there are the upfront licenses that give you access into perpetuity, or subscription-based services that allow you to add users as needed.

Suggested Reading:

The Best Office Suites of 2018

Best Office Suites Software

The best free office software: work smarter without paying a penny

LibreOffice, the best office suite, gets even better with LibreOffice 6.0

What’s keeping enterprises from using G Suite?

 

Making good decisions about classroom tech

classroom tech

Who doesn’t love new technology? Certainly not students – and most teachers, too. With new devices, apps and services coming at us all the time, it’s easy to get distracted, or, worse still, fall into the new-tech trap. But it’s easy to avoid if you keep asking one simple question: will this technolgy lead to better outcomes?

It’s a simple question on the face of it, but of course lurking beneath its surface lie many more. And you might consider asking them in partnership with your fellow educators, administrators and IT team members. An international survey of 8000 teachers found that 59% believe they should have the last word in what technology is bought for their classrooms. That’s probably a debate for the ages, but if everyone keeps the following considerations in mind, good decisions – and good outcomes – should follow.

Will the tech help students and teachers?

 

You’re buying classroom technology. A classroom is made up of teachers and students together, so ask yourself if what you’re looking at works for both. It might not practical to ask your students en masse but asking a representative sample of the student body should give you some valuable insights into how they learn and how they’d like to learn.

Will it be easy to deploy and use?

This applies to physical hardware as much as software: you want technology that’s robust. Simple to use, durable, hard to break. You don’t need the support headaches of constantly explaining or fixing technology that isn’t suitable for a busy environment and users of varying abilities.

And of course, ‘simple’ doesn’t mean boring or narrow. It means usable, reliable and easy for students to engage with. As any teacher knows, ‘simple’ can be a difficult goal to achieve.

 

What problem will it solve?

If you haven’t identified a problem, you don’t need new technology. When you know what the problem is, it’s easier to test whether something you’re considering is right for you.

Ask yourself if the new technology lets teachers or students do something they couldn’t do before. Look for technology that breaks down barriers to learning and promotes engagement between teachers and students. These are education’s biggest challenges – deploying technology that helps overcome them would be a major achievement.

 

Can the school support it?

Schools can run into problems if they buy state-of-the-art technology but don’t have the infrastructure to support it. Whether network bandwidth, data storage, information architecture or some other factor is the problem, there’s nothing more frustrating – and wasteful – than technology that can’t be fully or properly used. Sometimes their demands can’t be met by networks that didn’t anticipate them. Teachers and students might not appreciate it, but sometimes the best technology investment is one that takes care of things behind the scenes.

When you provide the devices and operating systems, this isn’t a consideration, but if you’re BYOD, this could be your final stumbling block. Software that works with a web browser might not work with the browser on a tablet. This means doing your homework and perhaps running some education sessions for the teachers involved.

Just like teaching, getting technology choices right requires research and planning. Your teaching staff can help you when it comes to keeping things simple by providing a view of where the real educational value is. With that frame around the question, you’ll make the best choices.