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Samera Business Advisors
Samera Business Advisors are leading UK Dental Business Advisors. On this blog, we share our tips, ideas and expertise to our readers across the UK and beyond. This blog is a must-read for dentists seeking to buy, build, or sell a dental practice.
Blog By:
Arun Mehra
Arun Mehra

Cybersecurity for Dental Practices

Cybersecurity for Dental Practices

11/1/2021 9:31:07 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 29

There is no denying that cyber hacking happens daily, and dentist should not think that they are an exemption. Healthcare services including dental practices are prime targets for hackers. In fact, small businesses containing health information are targeted quite often.

Data breaches are a major threat to healthcare providers, especially dentists; they are becoming targets for cyber criminals more and more frequently. Health organisations make up roughly 33% of all data security breaches across all industries. It has been shown, however, that a majority of personal health information data breaches has been a result of human error from healthcare employees.

Please click here to read our 10 essential cybersecurity steps for dentists.

WHY ARE DENTAL PRACTICES AT RISK FROM CYBERSECURITY?

Dental practices are becoming hot targets for these cyber criminals because dental offices hold vast amounts of personal data. Not only confidential personal information of your patients such as birthdates, addresses and full names, but also hundreds, if not thousands, of instances of banking information. Hackers also like to target the smaller healthcare businesses because they believe small businesses do not have the resources for sophisticated security measures and they will, therefore, be easier targets.  

The threat of this confidential information being stolen is great and dental practice owners must address this concern as soon as they possibly can before a theft occurs and creates a legal nightmare for your business.

You must ensure that your dental practice has the proper IT solutions and cybersecurity procedures in place to adhere to the relevant guidance and regulations.

THE NEED FOR CYBERSECURITY IN YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE

The biggest mistake many dental practices are making is that they believe cyber criminals are not a threat to their small dental practices. However,

The increase of cyber criminals targeting healthcare businesses leaves your dental practice at risk. This is evident through the following statistics:

        
  • The healthcare industry accounts for 43% of all data security breaches
  •     
  • 47% of all cyber security attacks target small businesses like independent private dental practices
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  • Since September 2009, almost 21,000,000 health records have been compromised

Many hackers target smaller practices because they assume small businesses do not have the necessary security software of firewalls in place to protect it in place. Unfortunately, in many instances they are right.

Your dental practice is a wealth of patient data which means it is necessary for you to take the proper cybersecurity precautions to make sure that you are adhering to the proper regulations and your patient’s data do not fall into the wrong hands.

MOVING FORWARD DIGITALLY

Within the last couple years, dental practices have taken a major step in digitising their entire business and using the internet to centralise patient data and improve patient care.

Storing patient information in the cloud has its benefits:

        
  • Accessible any time from any location
  •     
  • Automatic backup
  •     
  • Patient data can easily and securely share between different practices

If proper precautions are not taken, dental practices are very vulnerable to security threats and data breaches.

When these breaches happen, confidential patient data can be sold on the DarkWeb resulting in fraud, identity theft and possibly blackmail and other criminal activities. Hackers can also hack your systems and access your own personal company data. Believe us, nothing good will ever come from that. Extortion, blackmail…. It is not pretty.

CONSEQUENCES

If your dental practice gets hacked in any way, the consequences for your dental practice will not only cost you time and money but also potential lawsuits from patients, loss of important data that may not be able to get recovered and brand and reputation damage.

At the end of the day, it is you who will be on the line for any potential data breaches.

IMPLEMENT SECURITY FEATURES

Every dental practice should have a policy in place safeguarding patient information and all staff members should be educated about how to comply with the office policy.

We advise a strict internet and computer policy that not only educated your employees when a breach does occur but also deters any mishaps from occurring. This policy enforced should include prohibiting staff members from checking personal email accounts or visiting any internet websites that are not work related.

When accessing any office data remotely, any employees at your dental practice should only use trusted Wi-Fi hot spots and never used shared computers or unsecure Wi-Fi spots. Any smartphones or tablets you have in your practice should be password protected to prevent access to patient information in case that device is lost or stolen.

Antivirus software should be installed on every computer in your practice and left kept updated and checked regularly. In addition, it is also important for dentists to make sure that all operating systems, hardware, software, and firewalls are up to date, secure and strong and that wireless networks are shielded from public view. All hard copies of documents with patient information should be shredded as soon as they are no longer of any use to your practice.

To avoid any type of security breaches there are a few IT solutions you need to implement and ensure are in place to prevent any security breaches as soon as they occur. Here are a few:

        
  • Set up VPN (virtual private network)
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  • Install anti-virus software for all your devices in your practice
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  • Automate the encryption of your production
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  • Backup hard drives with appropriate security hardware
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  • Always keep your web browsers, software and operating systems updated
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  • Encrypt data transmitted to anywhere outside the practice

MITIGATING SECURITY RISKS

Unfortunately, data has shown that even when you have the necessary security measures in place, human error is commonly the sole cause of data breaches. This means that the actions of healthcare employees are unintentionally the cause of three times as many breaches as external attacks on your dental practice.

Without adequate training, your employees could unintentionally be putting your entire practice at risk. This is why, after you have put all the necessary security measures in place, your next priority should be to train your employees to mitigate any security risks.

Here are a few tips for this:

        
  • Avoid disclosing private information over the phone or email. Instead, you should use encrypted communication methods such as encrypted email to protect sensitive patient or employee data
  •     
  • Set user permission for different roles
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  • Educate and train staff of latest cyber threats and your latest technological updates
  •     
  • Choose strong passwords and do not use the same password for everything
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  • Outline a response plan so the team knows what to do immediately in the event of an attack
  •     
  • Discourage joining public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks
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  • Restrict access to personal email accounts and any non-work-related websites
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  • Require password for any devices you use at the practice, in case it gets lost or stolen

If a security breach in your office does occur, it is absolutely imperative that if a breach in your office does occur, you need to take the appropriate action immediately. This includes determining how the breach occurred to begin with and the extent of the breach. You need to be careful who you initially contact when something like this occurs.

Samera helps you stay fully compliant with any security regulations. Our specialists ensure that your dental practice software is always updated, and your data is encrypted with password protection and able to be transferred securely.

Contact us to see how Samera can help you manage your cyber security today.

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