Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t run with scissors. We all learn these lessons to one degree or another at a very young age. They are lessons that protect us in a world that can, at times, be less than friendly and even dangerous.
Unfortunately, my childhood lessons included nothing on just how dangerous using my computer could be. And how could they? Computers and technology have come such a long way in just the past 30 years that most of us are on a constant learning curve. There is constant news of new vulnerabilities, new computer viruses, and most recently, news that Lenovo has been purposely installing potentially harmful software on its systems. Let’s face it, the internet can be a very scary place, and it’s not going to get any friendlier. But what do we do about it?
Just because we can cut ourselves with a pair of scissors doesn’t mean we stop using them. We just learn the proper precautions. Similarly, the inherent dangers of venturing online and using internet connected technology as a business tool can be substantially negated if the proper steps are taken to protect ourselves.
Install anti-virus: Anti-virus and anti-malware programs are essential for protecting your technology from malicious attacks. Make sure you work with your pharmacy’s technology service providers to find out what they recommend or what kind of protection they can provide you with. Not all anti-virus programs are created equally and some programs might interfere with necessary updates from your pharmacy POS or pharmacy management system providers so you want to make sure that you have the right solution to meet your needs. Make sure that you allow your anti-virus program to run regular scans and preform updates as needed.
Run Windows updates: Windows preforms regular updates to apply patches that protect against vulnerabilities, fix bugs, etc. If you are prompted to restart your systems to apply these patches, make sure that you are doing it. Ignoring Windows updates can impact system performance and leave your pharmacy systems vulnerable. Make sure that you are utilizing a currently supported version of Windows as well. Microsoft stopped supporting and updating Windows XP in 2014 so you’ll want to replace any XP systems that you may still have.
Restrict internet access: Employees simply browsing the internet can severely impact how safe your pharmacy technology is online. Clicking on an unfriendly link in an email or via an internet browser can open your systems up to malicious software, viruses and much more. Make sure you have policies in place to restrict what your employees can do on business computers. Checking personal email and browsing the internet on a system that’s vital for running your pharmacy is never a good idea. If you want employees to be able to use a computer recreationally on breaks, think about providing one that is used only for that purpose and contains no business critical applications or patient and proprietary information.
Trust your system vendors: If the latest security scandal at Lenovo has taught us anything, it’s that we need to exercise caution when selecting computers for use in a business environment. To elaborate, the adware that many systems had automatically installed could allow the software to monitor your activity while utilizing a secure connection. That puts private information at high risk for compromise and theft. So while it might be tempting to go purchase a PC off the shelf to have your pharmacy POS software installed on, the best practice is to check with your service providers and get their recommendation first. At RMS we have hardware specifically tailored for use of the RMS application as well as options to save space, broaden service offerings and maximize efficiency. Trusting the functionality and security of your business to a consumer level product isn’t always the best choice.
Safeguarding your pharmacy technology is as important to the success of your pharmacy as following industry regulations or keeping the shelves stocked. Failing to take proper safety and security measures not only increases your risk of down time, but jeopardizes your pharmacy’s reputation if you were to experience a breach of information on any of your pharmacy’s systems. Following these steps will help you keep your pharmacy secure. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vendors and partners for advice and assistance.
Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customers service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers. Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market.