4 Important Reminders for Pharmacy Security

I’ve always worked hard to keep a clean email in box, both at work and at home. But lately, that task seems almost impossible. At home, I’ve got countless emails from teachers, family check ins, and an increase in email marketing as retailers try to increase online sales. And as we work from home, those quick questions that might have been answered as co-workers pass in the hall, or phone conversations that don’t happen right away because our schedules are suddenly so packed, turn into emails, sent back and forth at all hours of the day and night.

This side effect of quarantine and social distancing is difficult to manage in and of itself, but it’s being compounded by an increase in phishing attacks. Fraudulent emails disguised as legitimate, aiming to take advantage of our frazzled states and overflowing inboxes. Just waiting in our unsuspecting inboxes for us to click on something we shouldn’t or give out sensitive information

This article, citing reports from Google, notes that there were 522,495 active phishing sites active in March. This represents a 350% increase from the 149,195 active sites in January.

Right now, we’re all focused on protecting our health and the health of family, customers and friends. And that is really enough to worry about. However, we do still need to remember to safeguard personal information, patient privacy and business information.

Here are some tips to help you keep your pharmacy security on track.

  • Beware of phishing attacks – We’ve all seen them. Emails trying to get you do something, share something or click on something that you shouldn’t do, share or click. Some of them are more obvious than others. This issue of the SANS newsletter is a great resource for learning more about phishing attacks, how to spot them, and how to protect yourself. It’s a good read for pharmacy employees both for their knowledge at work and at home.
  • Properly maintain passwords – How many people have a password that is “password1234”. Or maybe it’s your kids name and date of birth, or your favorite TV show. The problem? Those passwords just aren’t secure. One is a frequently used password that is easy to break. The other could potentially be found with a quick search on social media. This insecure password issue is often compounded by the use of the same password across multiple applications. Meaning that if someone gains access to your online music streaming service, they also now have your email account and banking information. The good news is that in your pharmacy point-of-sale system, this concern can be eradicated by using biometric login. Employees access the system with an employee code and their fingerprint. Eradicating the risk of employees sharing passwords or setting a password that they use in a dozen different places. When passwords do come into play, you can set secure password requirements and expiration dates to help keep things secure. Here’s a past RMS blog post on password security.
  • Keep your applications up to date – Everything is internet connected these days. And anything that’s internet connected can and should receive updates. We may tend to think of updates as new features that we might care about, but maybe not right this second. What if that update breaks my phone? Or what if It makes my computer take longer to boot up in the morning? But updates in your pharmacy and your home are vitally important. Application updates don’t just bring new features. They can be patches for vulnerabilities that might otherwise be exploited.
  • Restrict unnecessary access – Internal security is important too. Use trust levels within your pharmacy point-of-sale to restrict activities and access based on employee role.

The time it takes to review your security policies is well worth it.

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