You’re probably thinking, “Who would want to steal data from a dental office?”
Hackers, that’s who. In July 2018, reports revealed that data from over 150,000 National Health Service (NHS) patients was shared over a period of three years. During the same year, a targeted cyberattack on the Singapore government’s health database compromised personal data from 1.5 million patients. Back in 2015, hackers stole 78.8 million patient records, containing vital information like home addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers, from health insurance provider Anthem.
Healthcare records contain information that hackers can use to commit identity theft, obtain prescription medications, and fraudulently acquire insurance and government benefits. If you don’t invest in network security, you will leave your dental practice, as well as your patients, wide open to cyberattacks and data breaches.
Improve your dental practice’s cybersecurity with the following tips:
#1 Partner with pros
Unless you are trained and experienced in network security, do not try to build your IT system yourself. You may be able to avoid upfront expenses by not delegating the task, but the result may not be as solid as it should be. In the event of a breach, the data you compromise, the trust you lose from your patients, and the penalties you’ll incur will turn out to be greater than the amount you intended to save.
Tap dental IT specialists or managed services providers (MSP) to handle your IT infrastructure. Your IT system is a crucial part of your practice, so make sure you entrust it only to the best people. Look for professionals who have years of experience in planning, designing, and implementing network security protocols, especially for organizations in the dental industry. The internet is a good place to start your search. You could also ask for recommendations from your industry friends.
#2 Invest in a customized network security solution
There was a time when all you had to worry about were viruses from dubious websites. Nowadays, you also have to be wary of ransomware, adware, spyware, rootkits, phishing, Trojans, and other security threats from multiple sources. Because of this, your chosen IT professionals must implement a network security solution that follows the standards set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and is both comprehensive and customized according to the unique needs of your practice.
Make sure your chosen MSP uses remote monitoring and management (RMM). This allows their IT experts to detect and fix irregularities even before you know they’re there. RMM also allows them to install patches or update your software regularly for added protection.
#3 Use the cloud
The biggest benefit of cloud storage is that it allows you to put your applications and files in a vault that anyone with the right credentials can access from anywhere using different devices, so long as they are connected to the internet. It magnifies your business’s efficiency and allows you to collaborate with peers and staff members outside your office.
The cloud’s other benefit has to do with security. Cloud technology stores all your data behind a formidable firewall that crooks will have a tremendously hard time breaking through. This protection can even be fortified further as needed. There is no question that the cloud is one of the most secure places to store patient records and other sensitive information.
Ask your IT professionals to set up a backup and disaster recovery system that automatically duplicates your data and stores them in the cloud. This protects your data from corruption and damage. In the event of a natural disaster or any calamity that destroys your servers, you can retrieve your backups from the cloud and resume your practice as soon as possible.
#4 Train your team
Your biggest network security risks are a lot closer to you than you think. In a survey, 47 percent of business leaders said human error — in particular, employee negligence — has caused a data breach in their organization. Small mistakes, such as leaving computers unlocked or leaving notes on desks, can have major repercussions. Train your staff — or have your IT professionals do it — on network security protocols and best practices both in the workplace and outside. Make this a regular process to ensure recall and to train new hires as well.
Your dental practice’s cybersecurity is a goal that all parties involved, from your IT professionals down to your employees, must commit to. Discover more tips on boosting network security by contacting us today!