Do you use the same passwords that are often easy to guess? Do you fail to backup your data or shut down your computer while you’re aware? You could be at risk for a data breach or cyber attack. This means that your patient information could be lost or stolen. You may also experience business operation interruptions that can last for weeks.
It’s important that you have processes and infrastructure in place to avoid this. Read on to learn how you can keep your patient information safe from dangerous malware, cyber attacks, and more through these important cyber security tips.
What Are Cyberattacks?
It first helps to know what cyberattacks are and why they pose such a threat to dental offices across America. Cyber attacks can be random or targeted, and they’re caused by criminals who use computers to target other computers. Their goal is usually to steal data or to completely disable a computer.
Here are some of the most common methods cybercriminals use across all industries:
This is a form of malware that encrypts the victim’s files. In order to decrypt the files and gain access to them again, cybercriminals will demand a ransom through instructions on their computers. Although this may seem like something that could never happen to your practice, remember that this happening to different medical practices across the country.
A major ransomware attack crippled hundreds of dental offices in 2019. Also in 2019, Eye Care Associates Inc. based in Ohio was hit with a ransomware attack that interrupted their business operations and delayed patient bookings. Multiple IT companies were hired in order to help recover the data.
Malware is short for malicious software. If you’ve ever heard of Trojans or viruses, these are all specific forms of malware. Once downloaded onto a computer, this software is designed to give a cybercriminal remote access or it makes the network or computer inoperable.
Phishing is a technique that cybercriminals use in order to get users to download malware, fill in banking information, or type in passwords. These are usually in the form of emails that are disguised as emails from legitimate companies.
They’ll typically ask users to click on a link. Once clicked, the link will take them to a landing page that looks similar to a Facebook login page, banking page, or more.
Denial of Service
A denial of service attack is a brute force method to get a network or website to stop working properly. For instance, criminals can quickly overwhelm websites or networks and cause them to shut down from traffic they’re unable to handle.
IT Best Practices for Dentists
Are you wondering how to prevent malware attacks? It’s important to remember that you can reduce the chances of cyberattacks yourself. These simple techniques can even be utilized by people who have limited computer or network knowledge.
Use Strong Passwords
A strong password uses randomized symbols, numbers, and letters. You can make it easier to create and remember these passwords through services such as 1Password and LastPass. It’s also important that you’re not reusing passwords.
Lastly, avoid using easy-to-guess ones such as birthdays, street names, or phone numbers.
Keep Computers Updated
Whether you’re running Windows or Apple, these companies often come out with updates that make your data more secure. Make sure your computer is set to automatically update so that you have the latest security protection upgrade at all times.
Secure Your Wi-Fi Network
Just like the passwords for websites you use, you also want to make sure that your Wi-Fi network password is secure. Your network should only be used by trusted staff members. If you provide Wi-Fi access for your patients, make sure they’re on a limited guest account.
Download Reputable Antivirus Software
Although it’s important to have some type of antivirus software on your computer (especially if you’re running Windows), you want to make sure that you’re downloading it from the company’s website. Malware can often be disguised as antivirus software in order to convince you to download it. Here is some well-known and reputable software:
- Norton AntiVirus Plus
- Kaspersky Anti-Virus
- Malwarebytes Premium
Modern software is able to handle more common ransomware and Trojan attacks.
When it comes to phishing attempts, your best protection is caution. Don’t click on any email links that you don’t recognize or give out financial information, even if the email uses scare tactics such as a loss of benefits, service, or more. If you’re unsure if an email is real, it’s best to call the company’s customer support line.
They will give you a definitive answer on whether they sent the email. The majority of companies will never ask for your password or financial information through an unprompted email.
Lock Your Computer
This is one of the simplest ways to keep your data safe. Whenever you’re away from your computer for a long length of time, make sure to lock your computer by putting it to sleep or turning it off. Whether you have a Mac or Windows computer, both systems give you the ability to automatically lock your computer after it hasn’t been used within a certain amount of time.
Cyber Security Tips for Peace of Mind
Our goal isn’t to scare you or to create paranoia. However, it’s important to be aware that cybersecurity threats are a real thing that medical practices are dealing with all across America. Once you’re aware of the issue, our cybersecurity tips will protect you and reduce the chances of a major data breach.