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The year 2008 brought new technology innovations that redefined today’s consumer. Of course, with all new innovation comes new malicious threats to the security of our information. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights and lowlights of 2008 and see what healthcare can learn.

First Android Phone and Google App Store

On September 23, 2008, T-Mobile launched the G1 (HTC Dream), the first smartphone to use Google’s new operating system for mobile devices. One month later, Google launched the Android Market, an online software market for Android devices. It would later be combined with two other Google markets (Google Music and Google eBookstore) to become the Google Play store. With Apple and Android smartphones now on the market, the shift to a mobile world had begun. We know this movement has only continued to take over as 77 percent of Americans today own a mobile device. With smartphones, you can now unlock your phone, access your information and even pay with fingerprint and face recognition technology. As the number of devices consumers own increases, it is important to consider what devices are connecting to your network and system.

Apple App Store

Along with the Android Market, Apple also created the Apple App store in July of 2008. The iPhone 3G was released and came pre-loaded with support for the App store. Within the first few days of the launch, over 10 million applications had been downloaded. Apps have revolutionized the way we do business today and healthcare is no different. Consider that 65 percent of consumers reported that they would download a mobile app to pay all of their healthcare bills. InstaMed has just released healthcare’s first end-to-end payment and billing app available for iOS and Android. With the InstaMed App you can pay any healthcare bill in a snap with Photo Bill Pay, save your payment information to your secure InstaMed digital wallet and check in with providers using our new Engage solution. With ten years of experience, consumers are comfortable with apps and are choosing to make payments through their mobile devices.

Chrome Web Browser

The widely-used Internet browser, Google Chrome, was officially released to the public on December 11, 2008. With various Internet browsers in use today, it is important to make sure your organization is testing your website with all the major browsers. For healthcare organizations, this also means ensuring that consumers can easily access solutions to pay their bills within all browsers. InstaMed user interface screens can be displayed in several different modes to match both application and user needs. These interface screens keep sensitive data off your servers and deliver a positive experience for your users. Additionally, the InstaMed Secure Token enables healthcare organizations to securely capture card or bank account information for future payments. Plus, with tokenization the actual cardholder data is stored by InstaMed and not by your organization, which keeps payment information off your server.

Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Ahh, the Ponzi scheme – I can remember seeing the headlines in the news for Bernie Madoff’s prison sentence of 150 years. For those who don’t know, Bernie Madoff ran the biggest fraudulent scheme in U.S. history using what is known as a “Ponzi Scheme.” He convinced thousands of investors to hand over their savings, falsely promising consistent profits in return. This makes me ponder the thought, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Phishing has surged in the past few years and often starts with emails designed to trick recipients into clicking on a malicious attachment or visiting a malicious website. It is important to make sure you are consistently educating everyone in your organization about phishing scams. While some may be easy to detect (e.g., a Nigerian prince offering to give you his inheritance), more sophisticated scams (e.g., a request from your IT department for your username and password) are harder to spot. Train staff to be on the lookout for anything that seems fishy and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

First Virus in Space

On August 14, 2008, the W32.Gammima.AG worm snuck itself onto the International Space Station. The worm virus infects computers and tries to compile passwords and login information to then send back to a central server. Luckily only one computer was infected in the International Space Station so they were able to keep the worm from spreading. This just goes to show it doesn’t matter where you are, data threats are lurking everywhere – even in space! We continue to see data threats and security breaches today, except now they’re even larger in scale. Healthcare organizations should promptly patch computers, servers, and network devices to protect against viruses and exploits. Additionally, you should also install antivirus and anti-malware software on your systems. These types of software will routinely scan your devices for threats and vulnerabilities, including viruses, worms, bots, trojan malware and protect against other online threats.

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