Dental Practice Cybersecurity: Expectations vs. Reality

Dental Practice Cybersecurity: Expectations vs. Reality

Cybersecurity has become increasingly relevant for oral healthcare providers in the last decade. Cybercrimes are on the rise, with a 15 percent increase in 2021 over 2020, and the healthcare industry has become a favorite target of cyber-criminals. You may think your practice is too small to attract the attention of so-called hackers. You may believe you and your team are too smart to fall for phishing scams. The truth is that cybercrime is expected to cost businesses $10.5 trillion by 2025. If you want your business to thrive in the digital age, make sure your expectations meet the reality of caring for patients in a connected practice.

Expectation: Cybercriminals only target large hospitals. Why would they be interested in my small practice?

Reality: The reality is that cybercrimes against all healthcare sectors, from large hospitals to individual practices, are on the rise. Patient files, containing sensitive information including social security numbers and insurance information, are a goldmine to criminals. And, unfortunately, the healthcare sector is more likely to pay ransoms for hijacked data since patient lives could literally be on the line. If anything, smaller offices often offer a more enticing target, as criminals likely assume the practice isn’t equipped with the same security protocols and IT support of a larger healthcare network.

Expectation: Criminals can only access my data if they steal a laptop from my office and guess my password.

Reality: Cybercriminals can access your network from almost anywhere if you leave the “door” open for them to hack your system. Malware (22%) and phishing (20%) are the most common kinds of security hacks; and both can be accomplished without any need to physically touch your computer.

Phishing comprises an email from a “spoof” account—an account made to look as if it’s coming from an official source—containing either a link infected with malware or a link that will take you to a counterfeit website where you’ll enter private information. Connecting to an unknown Wi-Fi network may also put your laptop at risk, as hackers often target public Wi-Fi, which has less stringent security. And yes, even remotely accessing your network and guessing a weak password is a tactic often used by cybercriminals.

Expectation: Our practice is savvy enough to know not to click on suspicious links or emails.

Reality: It’s true that news stories about hacked computers and ransomed data has most people on high alert, but cybercriminals quickly adapt to become increasingly more sophisticated. In addition to phishing emails, targeted text messages containing infected links are also on the rise. Be sure the same caution you use online translates to all virtual and electronic interactions.

Expectation: My practice is part of a large DSO, I’m sure someone at the corporate level has already thought of all this. My team and I are covered.

Reality: Perhaps. The reality is that only half of all businesses have a cyber-security plan in place. What does that mean for your practice? While your company laptop likely has a security firewall and you IT team may release security patches and updates, you should always be aware when operating online. Reducing cyber-crime is the responsibility of everyone. That includes refraining from clicking suspicious links, avoiding unknown Wi-Fi networks, creating strong passwords and frequently changing your passwor

Expectation: I’ll just keep my paper files; that seems safest.

Reality: Physical paper files have their own drawbacks, and it’s increasingly difficult to thrive in a connected network with paper alone. The digital environment is a safe and secure means to store your patient and practice data if you’re vigilant; so it’s important to have the right tools and the right partner to ensure your data security remains intact.

A cloud-based platform like Sensei Cloud is a way to store and access data anytime, anywhere. With Sensei Cloud, your data is securely maintained by Carestream Dental, an expert in maintaining and protecting your data. Carestream Dental ensures its cloud platform follows strict HIPPA security protocols and offers secure file transfers, state-of-the-art firewall protection and automated backups.

With adequate training and the right tools and resources, you can safely connect to all your practice needs online, like accessing your files on the cloud so you can review cases from anywhere, even if there’s an emergency that keeps you from the office. Don’t let cyber-criminals become your reality; take steps today to securely reinforce your practice data. Learn what Sensei Cloud can do for you and your practice.