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How To Identify Cybersecurity Threats In Your Dental Practice

One of the prime targets for spammers is dental software. Being in such a profession, one has minimal resources to prevent attackers. As a healthcare provider, your data is precious to cyber criminals; thus, they tend to target dental clinics. Dental practices nowadays heavily rely on technology, with the growing technology playing a pivotal role in appointments, charting, billing, clinical procedures, and more. 

Some of the most common cybersecurity attacks that target the dental practice are:

  • Mobile malware: Hackers can crack the system via malicious apps or wifi when the system is accessed with any mobile device without proper security configuration.
  • Ransomware: This malware blocks you from accessing your data and files until you pay a ransom to the hacker.
  • Man-in-the-middle attack: Hackers intercept communications like emails between patients and staff to steal information.
  • Phishing and social engineering: Cyber criminals send emails that trick the employees into sending login credentials so they can access the data. 
  • Trojans: Trojan viruses are a kind of disguised software. When someone installs it on the computer, the hacker gets access to the system and software.
  • Malware: Including ransomware, spyware, viruses, scareware, and worms; malicious software can harm your computer, breach the system, and corrupt or steal the data of patients available.

Now the question is, how will you find out if your system is vulnerable to these threats? Risk assessment should be conducted first to identify the most vulnerable assets in your system. For dental clinics, it will be patient data. You should know what data you are collecting from the patient, how you are storing it, and who can access it. You should also know how data is currently protected, devices are secured, and other networks and emails are protected.

Along with securing the software, hardware safety is equally important. Keeping the inventory of all assets, the on-premise servers should also be secured. Like who has access to server rooms or if it is locked or not after usage. Endpoint security should be evaluated. If employees use their devices to access your network, you should enforce a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. Two-factor authentication should be implemented for logging into your system. 

There are so many applications nowadays you can use to scan your network and take inventory of all the services that you are running. The software versions should be updated, and see if any vulnerabilities should be found. If you don’t have an in-house person for risk assessment, hire a third-party consulting service. In this era, there are many third-party consultants available. The third-party consultants will penetrate testing to gauge the resilience of your system and identify adjustments to be made.

Additionally, review your backup and recovery plan and undergo a business impact analysis to see how a breach can affect your practice from the financial, reputational, and operational categories. This will clearly show how an attack can affect your dental practice. It will also help prioritize resources in your business continuity plan (BCP). 

Patients’ information is stored in dental practice management software in the majority of cases. It must have all the necessary security measures in place to protect the data from spying. Risk can also be reduced through security training and awareness, including employee understanding and compliance with HIPAA regulations. There should also be security guidelines for remote workers. Also, a solid disaster recovery plan (DCP) should be in place to protect from becoming a victim of a cybersecurity attack. 

The Bottom Line

The placement of computers should be such that the screen is not visible to non-employees. Team members should communicate that patients’ data and trust their responsibility and duty. At last, cybersecurity awareness and training should also be for the dentists and all staff to be safe and secure. 

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