How to Protect Your Dental Practice from Cyber Threats

How to Protect Your Dental Practice from Cyber Threats

A recent study revealed that 60% of small businesses, including dental practices, fall victim to cyberattacks each year. The stakes are high, and the risks are real. For dentists, practice managers, and owners, knowing how to protect your dental practice from cyber threats is crucial to maintaining patient trust and business continuity.

In this guide, we'll explore comprehensive strategies to shield your dental practice from cyber threats. From visible protective measures to behind-the-scenes tools, we'll cover the costs and crucial components of a secure network. Let's get started on securing your practice for a safer future.

On the Surface Cybersecurity Protection

Surface-level protection strategies are the first line of defense against cyber threats. These highly visible measures act as deterrents to potential cyber criminals and provide immediate security enhancements should an attempt be made. By implementing strict physical security, password policies, and employee training programs, you can significantly reduce the risk of a cybersecurity breach. Ensuring that your practice employs these basic, yet essential protections form the cornerstone of a robust cybersecurity framework.

Physical Security

Physical security forms the first line of defense against cyber threats by preventing unauthorized access to your practice's digital infrastructure. The last thing you want is for someone to break into your office and steal your server. To protect against such threats, dental practices should implement robust physical measures such as secure locks, surveillance cameras, and badge-based access control systems to safeguard their premises.

Additionally, ensuring that server rooms and areas housing sensitive equipment are only accessible to authorized personnel can significantly reduce the risk of tampering or theft.

Strong Password Policies

Passwords are the keys to accessing computers, software, data, and more. Having a strong password policy in place can help protect against unwanted access into your system. Factors to implement into your policy should include:

  • Creating strong passwords that combine letters (caps/lower-case), numbers, and symbols (special characters such as $, !, or *).
  • Regularly updating passwords (a good rule of thumb is to update every 3 months) and avoid using easily guessable information (such as date of birth, names, etc.).
  • Utilizing a password manager that securely stores and autogenerates passwords (say goodbye to those sticky notes ASAP).

Check out these additional resources:

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring multiple verification steps (password + security token, or password + biometric factor). Because over 60% of data breaches can be traced to weak credentials, it’s important to implement MFA for all systems and accounts. This ensures that even if passwords are compromised, unauthorized access can be prevented with this additional layer of security.

You may have also heard of two-factor authentication (2FA) which is a form of MFA. Learn more from our very own Technical Service Engineer, Carlo Sanchez, as he breaks down 2FA for dental practices.

Employee Cybersecurity Training

According to Verizon’s 2024 Data Breach Investigations Report, 68% of breaches involve a non-malicious human element (falling victim to social engineering attack or making an error). Therefore, employee training is crucial in maintaining a high level of cybersecurity within your dental practice. By investing in comprehensive training programs, you empower your employees to recognize and respond to potential security threats effectively.

These employee cybersecurity training programs should include:

  • Regular updates on the latest cyber threats
  • Protocols for handling sensitive information
  • Best practices for using the practice's digital systems safely

Additionally, conducting simulated phishing attacks and other practical exercises can help employees gain hands-on experience in identifying and mitigating risks. Ultimately, well-trained staff act as a strong defense line, significantly reducing the likelihood of human error leading to security breaches.

Want ideas on topics to include in your employee cybersecurity training? Check out our content on eight (8) Essential Topics to Include in Your Employee Cybersecurity Training.

Behind the Scenes Cybersecurity Protection

A robust cybersecurity strategy extends beyond the visible safeguards and involves critical behind-the-scenes measures. These measures ensure the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of your sensitive data. And they act as barriers should the forward-facing measures (mentioned in previous section) fail.

By diligently implementing these less obvious but equally crucial security protocols, you fortify your systems against potential threats and vulnerabilities. This comprehensive approach to cybersecurity not only enhances your practice's resilience but also instills confidence in your patients, knowing that their information is protected with the highest standards of care.

Regular Software Updates

Outdated software can be a gateway for cyber threats. The importance of software updates for dental practices cannot be overstated. Regular software (practice management to antivirus programs) updates help your practice stay ahead of vulnerabilities. They also ensure optimal performance.

Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems

Firewalls act as barriers between your network and potential threats. Intrusion detection systems (IDS) monitor network traffic for suspicious activity. Together, they form a strong defense against cyberattacks by overseeing and regulating data flow between networks based on predetermined security rules.

Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) and Managed Detection & Response (MDR)

EDR and MDR services are crucial components in modern cybersecurity strategies for dental practices.

  • EDR solutions focus on continuously monitoring and responding to threats at the endpoint level (desktop computers, laptops, servers, and mobile devices), enabling rapid detection and remediation of malicious activities. These tools provide detailed visibility into endpoint events, helping to identify sophisticated threats that may evade traditional security measures.
  • MDR services offer a more comprehensive approach by integrating EDR capabilities with expert threat analysis and response support from a team of security professionals. With round-the-clock (24/7/365) monitoring, advanced threat intelligence, and swift incident response, this managed service allows your practice to stay resilient against evolving cyber threats.

By leveraging both EDR and MDR, you can enhance your security posture significantly, ensuring robust protection for sensitive data and systems.

For more information on MDR, check out our FREE resource - “Why do I need MDR on top of EDR?

Encryption

Encryption transforms data into unreadable code, accessible only with a decryption key. Encryption can be utilized at various levels within your IT infrastructure. From device encryption to email encryption, your practice can protect data while in transit and at rest. This ensures data remains secure, even if intercepted or a device is stolen.

Backup Solutions

Regular backups are essential for data recovery and business continuity. Use automated, HIPAA-compliant backups to protect against data loss from cyberattacks or system failures. Ensure backups are encrypted and tested periodically. A managed service provider, such as Pact-One Solutions, can provide you with a secure, reliable backup and disaster recovery solution that meets the needs of your dental practice.

Cost of Cybersecurity Protection for Dental Practices

Investing in robust cybersecurity measures is an essential commitment for any dental practice, but it is equally important to understand the associated costs. This section will provide a comprehensive overview of the financial aspects of implementing various cybersecurity solutions, including hardware, software, and ongoing operational expenses.

By gaining a clear understanding of these costs, you can make informed decisions to balance security needs with budgetary constraints, ensuring optimal protection without unnecessary expenditures for your dental practice.

Infographic displaying a cybersecurity protection cost analysis highlighting the average cost of a data breach for small businesses vs. average monthly cost for cybersecurity tools and services with a dedicated IT company.

Initial Investment

The initial investment of cybersecurity for dental practices includes the purchase of network security tools such as:

  • Hardware components – firewall, access points, network switches, and backup server
  • Software – firewall, antivirus, anti-malware, endpoint security, secure remote access, device encryption, and email security
  • Professional services – security operations center through managed detection & response, network monitoring, alert response, vulnerability scans, and backup & disaster recovery

Many dental professionals work with a managed service provider (IT company) to assist with the set-up and ongoing maintenance of these network security components for their dental practice.

Through a dedicated dental IT company, your practice may incur a set-up fee. After set-up is complete, the dental IT company may charge a monthly service fee (based on the type of agreement selected) for ongoing maintenance, support, and service.

Ongoing Maintenance

Cybersecurity requires continuous attention. It’s important to budget for regular maintenance, software updates, and staff training. These items are crucial, because if your hardware and software sit dormit (without the required maintenance and updates) they won't be effective, and your investment will go to waste.

Consider outsourcing your IT services to a trusted dental IT company to help with the ongoing maintenance, support, and service required to keep your dental practice secure from cyber threats.

Potential Savings

The cost of a cyberattack can be devastating, including fines, legal fees, and lost revenue. According to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, data breaches (including ransomware attacks) costs an organization with less than 500 employees (dental practices included) an average of $3.31 million. Additionally, the report revealed that 95% of organizations had suffered more than one breach. Doing the math, this could amount to over $6 million in damages.

Compare that to the monthly investment of $1,500 for cybersecurity tools and services through a dedicated IT company, and you’re looking at potential savings of over $3.2 million. Investing in cybersecurity can not only save your practice from significant financial damage, but also give you peace of mind and protect against reputational damage.

Get the lowdown on the costs of a cyberattack with our resource “Counting the Cost of Cybercrime”.

Conclusion

Cyber threats are an ever-present danger for dental practices. By implementing strong on-surface protection measures, behind-the-scenes tools, and understanding the costs involved, you can safeguard your practice effectively. Remember, the investment in cybersecurity today can prevent catastrophic losses tomorrow.

Take the next step towards a secure practice. Explore our range of network security solutions tailored for dental practices. Contact our experts for personalized advice and ensure your practice is protected from cyber threats. Your peace of mind and your patients’ trust depend on it.


Dental IT. Remove the Burden. Embrace the Use.

Quality patient care – it's ultimately why you became a dental professional. But, some business operations can get in the way (such as pesky computer issues or lack of IT support). That’s where Pact-One Solutions can help! Our passion lies in supplying reliable, responsive dental IT support and security that practices can count on.

Whether you’re looking for dental IT services for your startup or searching for more responsive dental IT support – our team of dental IT specialists have you covered. With team members throughout the United States, we offer nationwide support to dental practices of all sizes. Our wide range of dental IT services ensure your data is secure, accessible, and protected.

Don't let technology challenges hinder your ability to deliver exceptional dental care. Contact us at info@pact-one.com or 866-722-8663 to join 350+ dental practices thriving with the support of a dedicated dental IT team.


Some services (such as LogMeIn) may be down due to theGlobal IT Outage