Almost every week there are reports of another ransomware attack. Companies, government agencies, and individuals are being targeted. As a result, their data is being held hostage for ransom money and their business and reputation are at risk.
This can be especially concerning for a busy dental practice responsible for safeguarding their patients’ data.
What is Ransomware?
So, what exactly is ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to block access to your own data. Cybercriminals will hold the data hostage or threaten to publish or expose information unless a ransom fee is paid.
Unfortunately, often the data is not released even if a ransom fee has been paid.
Protecting Your Practice
Dental offices are increasingly targeted by cybercriminals and security breaches are on the rise. Additionally, the HIPAA Security Rule requires healthcare facilities, such as dental offices, safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and security of their patients’ electronic protected health information (PHI). A cybersecurity breach could result in heavy fines, damage to the practice’s reputation, and even a temporary or permanent shut-down of the business.
However, there are several steps you can take to help prevent a cyberattack and protect your practice including:
- Security and awareness training for all employees
- Conducting regular cybersecurity risk assessment audits
- Establish security standards and eliminate risks discovered during the audit
- Protect your practice with cybersecurity insurance
- Partner with experienced IT and Security Professionals
Security and Awareness Training
Your employees and internal team members are the first line of defense against a cybersecurity attack. Unfortunately, this is also your most vulnerable area when it comes to an accidental security breach through phishing emails, malicious links/attachments, and human error.
This is why it’s so important that your employees receive ongoing awareness and training.
Additional measures should include:
- Two-step password authentication and stringent password guidelines
- Encryption of patient data
- Strong security standards and requirements for both onsite and remote employees
- Ongoing communication and compliance training regarding employees’ responsibility to safeguard patient data
Conducting regular cybersecurity risk assessments helps ensure security protocols are in place. Understanding your current security strengths and risks is the first step in preventing a breach or ransomware attack.
We offer a complimentary cybersecurity audit for your dental practice which includes our 20-point compliance and security assessment. Once your practice has completed a cybersecurity audit, you can reduce the risk of a breach by putting the appropriate security protocols in place.
Implement Practice-Wide Security Standards
Your practice should work with experienced dental IT and security professionals to close any security gaps and implement practice-wide security standards.
These security standards should include:
- Secure/update-to-date operating systems
- Wireless networks are protected from public view
- Properly installed antivirus software on each device
- Regular and secure off-site backup of patient data
- Cybersecurity awareness and training for the dentist(s) and all employees
- A disaster recovery plan
Safeguarding your dental practice with cybersecurity insurance is an important decision. Should your practice fall victim to a ransomware attack it could result in costly legal expenses, compliance penalty fees, crisis management, ransomware payments, and more.
Cybersecurity insurance can give you peace of mind and help protect the continued viability of your business.
Partner with the Experts
These are some of the steps you can take to help safeguard your patients’ data and protect your practice. Of course, we realize that as a dentist your focus is on providing excellent patient care – not on technology, regulations, and security protocols.
This is our area of expertise at Digital Technology Partners.
We manage all aspects of your dental IT and security/compliance planning. We’re the experts in dental technology and security with more than 15 years of experience working exclusively with dental practices and the specific needs of today’s dentist.
We invite you to schedule a brief, no-obligation phone conversation to discuss your dental practice. We’ll discuss your greatest issues and concerns and offer some practical insights to protect your practice and help your dental business grow and thrive!