Dentists…Have You Invested in Prevention?

Dentists…Have You Invested in Prevention?

Last week, I was privileged to be part of a panel at the annual DOMACAN conference in Mississauga. And while it is great to be able to share your own expertise, it is also fascinating to learn from others in attendance.

The most concerning thing we learned is that according to recent statistics, the number of dental offices that have become the victims of ransomware and other malware attacks has increased by 165% in the last year!

That is more frightening than any of the goblins we saw on Hallowe’en!

What Are These Attacks and Why Dentists?

In a typical ransomware attack, your computer will be attacked by a virus that locks your system and prevents you from accessing your data, including your scheduler or patient records.

Victims are then told to pay a “ransom” in exchange for the release of their data. Typical ransom amounts can be $5,000.00, but they do vary. Many will simply pay because it would cost more in both time and money to remove the virus otherwise.

More concerning is the virus that steals the data itself. Dental offices possess valuable information to the identity thief including, patient names, addresses, workplace information, phone numbers, personal health records, insurance coverage and payment information, including credit cards.

And because dentists operate such small businesses, they may feel they lack the resources to invest in systems that protect their networks. This makes them prime targets.

Protecting Your Data

Failing to secure your network can be a costly mistake. Assume your system is under attack and you need to be vigilant to guard against this. Start by backing up your system daily. We recommend multiple backups and at least one of them should be off site.

Remember, undetected viruses can be stored in your back-up. Simply backing up your data is not enough. You need an up to date anti-virus system to reduce the chances a hacker gaining access to your system in the first place.

Make sure you have a strong office internet usage policy. Many viruses are downloaded because a team member opened an email attachment or visited a website they should not have. Unauthorized use of workplace computers should not be tolerated.

The reality is that a determined hacker will find a way past some of the most complex security systems in the world. You cannot prevent all attacks.

However, many hackers are simply looking for the easiest targets. Don’t be one of those! Your records are highly confidential and are the lifeblood of your practice. Make sure you have done all you can do to protect them.