Data breaches pose grave threats to dental practices because they manage sensitive information relating to patients and their medical histories. If cybercriminals get a hold of this data, they can use it to commit fraud like forging credentials and making unauthorized transactions.
Dental practices can take great lengths and put all sorts of precautions in place to prevent these data breaches from happening, and usually do. However, the reality is that even with all the precautions in the world, one cannot ever guarantee that data breaches will not happen. It’s therefore critical that dental practices know what steps to take when a breach occurs. Here are the most important things you need to do in the event of a breach.
Identify and analyze the breach
The first step to take is to establish a concrete understanding of the breach, including verifying whether or not there indeed has been a data breach. Signs of a breach include unusually high network activity, repeated system crashes, password changes, modified data, and reports of strange messages to users within your network.
Once this has been established, it’s critical to gather as many details as possible: What data has been compromised and included in the scope of the breach? What are the potential consequences of this data falling into the wrong hands? How did the breach occur, and what aspects of the security system were compromised? Are there any suspects regarding who is behind the breach and now has their hands on the data? Getting a clear idea of what has actually happened will enable you to plan your next courses of action accordingly.
Contain the breach
After establishing a sound understanding of the breach, the most important thing to do in the short term is to prevent any more data from being compromised. This means plugging any holes in the system. Any equipment housing the compromised data should be taken offline to prevent any other data they contain from being breached. All entry and exit points, especially those identified as having been involved in the breach, must be closely monitored. Also, passwords and other credentials need to be reset, as they serve as liabilities until changed even after the attacker’s presence has been eliminated from the system.
Remove the threat
After ensuring that no additional breaches are to occur in the same manner, a thorough assessment needs to be conducted on the system to cleanse it of all hacker’s tools and applications. Machines and platforms affected by the breach must be taken offline, and if possible, replaced with clean ones to enable continuity of business. You should also run anti-malware software to scan the system for malicious programs and remove them as quickly as possible.
Recover data and fortify your systems
Any data that’s been lost or damaged should be restored from backups, especially data that’s critical for the functioning of the practice. If any sensitive data from your practice can be found on the internet, have it removed or request the managers of those websites to take them down. Once data’s been recovered, efforts should be made into addressing the gaps in security that allowed the breach to happen in the first place.
Notify affected individuals and governing bodies
As safekeeper of sensitive data, it’s the practice’s responsibility to notify affected individuals, other businesses, and governing bodies, including law enforcement agencies, about the data that’s been compromised. Exactly which parties need to be informed and the level of detail that needs to be divulged depends on the legislation of the state your practice operates in.
Review existing security measures
The occurrence of a breach should be an impetus to review overall network security and, if necessary, reconsider the approach. Not all breaches are due to issues in security policy, and sometimes they will occur even when all possible steps are taken to prevent them. They are, however, present a perfect opportunity to review what does and doesn’t work, especially in light of the new information that comes about due to the attack itself.
The possibility of a data breach is unfortunately a reality that every dental practice has to face. You can, however, make sure yours has the know-how and capability to deal with one if it ever does happen. Call Pact-One Solutions today for your free security assessment.