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Continued Reliance on Windows XP May Threaten Data Security

Continued security of patient data needed following Microsoft's termination of XP support

WEDNESDAY, April 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians who use Windows XP in their practices may be affected by Microsoft's recent discontinuation of support for the program, according to an article published April 8 in Medical Economics.

The author of the article, Derek Kosiorek, writes that continued use of this non-supported operating system may expose a practice to privacy risks. Without support, the product may not be secure from new forms of hacking or malicious software. Such breaches pose a risk to protected patient information and may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

To maintain security, Kosiorek suggests physician practices ensure that anti-virus software is up to date and still works on XP and that a firewall is in place to protect the network. In evaluating operating systems to replace XP it is recommended that practices ensure all software works on newer operating systems to ensure continued functionality. Then, practices can evaluate replacing the computer, upgrading the operating system on the existing computer, or run software off a server (creating a "virtual desktop connection").

"The most important consideration that practices will face is to ensure the integrity and security of the patient data," Kosiorek writes.

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