Safe social networking during the holidays

Esther Silver's picture

Social networking is fun way stay connected to friends and keep in touch with people you rarely see in person. It’s also tempting to overshare, especially around the holidays. While you may want to publish a “feel good” post about the patient you diagnosed just in time or the patient who is getting rid of their cast prior to a holiday trip back home, there are precautions that you need to follow in order to keep you and UCSF safe and secure. Keep in mind, when you work in a healthcare environment, protecting patient privacy is paramount. Be sure that you:

  • Never share any patient information or photos on social networking sites.
  • Never post a personal opinion in a way where it might be confused with the official position of UCSF.
  • Never use the UCSF brand identity on any personal blog or social networking profile.
  • Never post any information that is proprietary to UCSF.

You can further protect yourself and UCSF by adhering to the following practices:

  • Don’t give to charities who ask for money on social networking sites. If you plan to give to charities during this holiday season, note that most reputable charities do not ask for money online or over the phone.
  • Don’t post anything confidential or potentially embarrassing about yourself. Remember: once posted, always posted. Even if you immediately delete a post, it can still appear or be retrieved.
  • Be selective with friend requests and make sure your friends respect your privacy. Criminals can piece together your personal information to guess your passwords, answer password-reset challenge questions, hijack your account, or try to steal your identity.
  • Use high security settings on all social networking sites. Look for headings such as "Edit My Profile", "Settings", or "Account Details” and check drop-down menus for detailed privacy settings. If you’re not sure how to do this for a particular site, use a search engine to learn how.
  • Use multi-factor authentication, if available. Even if your credentials are compromised, your data would still be safe.
  • Use and maintain anti-virus software and a firewall - Protect yourself against viruses and malware that may steal or modify the data on your own computer and leave you vulnerable to data breaches.
  • Install apps and other software from trusted sites only. And keep the software updated once it’s installed.
  • Use long and strong passwords or passphrases for your social media accounts. Use a short sentence that’s easy to remember but hard to guess. We recommend at least 12 characters from 3 of 4 categories (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols).
  • Use a separate password for each of your social media accounts. If the bad guys get your user ID and password for one of your accounts, they cannot also compromise your other accounts.
  • Understand there are risks in using networks you don't control, like public Wi-Fi. Make sure the site you are accessing uses an encrypted connection by looking for https vs http and heed any warnings you get from your browser. Change advanced sharing settings and turn off file and printer sharing.
  • Disable GPS and do not post information about your whereabouts. If the bad guys know you’re on vacation in Europe, they’re more likely to rob you.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements to check for unauthorized charges. It’s best to do this as soon as you receive your statements. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Log in to your social networking sites frequently to make sure they have not been hacked. This is especially important if you use a particular site infrequently

Take the Safe and Secure Social Networking Quiz Everyone who passes the quiz wins a prize! This month’s prize is a can/bottle opener to remind you not to “open a can of worms” while social networking.

One person will also be selected for the grand prize: a PacSafe.Com secure backpack.

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