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6 Ways to Protect Your Dental Practice From Data Breaches

Eura Edmond
May 14, 2020

The dental industry is under attack by cybercriminals, especially independent practices that don’t have a large in-house IT team to keep up with the latest cybersecurity best practices.

Besides losing business-critical data and sensitive patient information, you’ll be responsible for any penalty if you have violated HIPAA regulations. Not to mention, you may incur expenses associated with forensic investigations, data recovery, and providing credit monitoring to affected patients.

A study sponsored by IBM found that data breaches cost healthcare practices $429 per patient record. If you have 1,000 past and current patients in your system, a cyberattack (e.g., phishing scam, ransomware attack) can cost you $429,000!

6 Tips To Improve Data Security For Your Dental Practice

Hackers use different methods to infiltrate dental practices so you need to cover all your bases. Here’s what you can do to protect your equipment and network from cybercriminals and data breaches:

1. Conduct a Risk Assessment

HIPAA requires all practices to conduct a risk assessment to identify weaknesses in policies, procedures, and technology (e.g., dental practice management software.)

A risk assessment gives you an in-depth understanding of your system’s security and what your “weak links” are so you can focus your resources on strengthening specific areas and stay HIPAA compliant. 

2. Provide Employee Training

Many breaches occur because of negligence. For example, patients emailing PHI and payment details and employees clicking on malicious links or suspicious attachments in emails that infect your system with malware.

Therefore, you should establish a comprehensive IT security policy and train your staff to adhere to the latest cybersecurity measures so you can prevent human errors that could lead to data breaches.

3. Purchase Cyber-liability Insurance

Make sure you’re protected in case any sensitive patient information is compromised by purchasing cyber-liability insurance. It can be part of the overall practice insurance coverage for your dental practice and it’ll cover the legal costs associated with a data breach.

Also, any partners or vendors you work with should have its own cyber-liability coverage. Ask for certificates of insurance from third-party providers before granting them access to your EHR.

4. Reinforce Endpoint Security

Put security measures in place so hackers can’t infiltrate your network from devices your staff use to access your system. These include desktop and laptop computers, as well as mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Install firewall and antivirus software on all devices. If you allow employees to use their own equipment to connect to your network (e.g., when they work from home or on the road,) implement a BYOD (bring your own device) policy and provide the IT support required to secure the devices.

5. Use Encryption to Protect Your Data

All sensitive data should be encrypted at all times -- whether in storage or during transit. This is even more important if your staff is using smartphones and tablets because they are more prone to getting lost or stolen.

Many devices come with encryption features, (e.g., BitLocker on Windows and Filevault on Mac) so make sure they’re turned on. Also, email can easily be hacked and should not be used to communicate sensitive data. Use a document-sharing software to encrypt sensitive files when sending them to patients, partners, and vendors to ensure secure transmission.

6. Use a Cloud Dental Software Platform

Most dental practices don’t have the IT resources or budget to ensure that their on-premise dental practice management software is always up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity protocols. Meanwhile, on-site servers in which sensitive data is stored are vulnerable to malware and ransomware attacks.

The best way to secure sensitive information is to move your data from an on-premise solution to a cloud-based software built on trusted platforms such as Google, Amazon, or Microsoft. Reputable providers also have a team of cloud security experts to ensure that the software is up-to-date with the latest security measures and staying HIPAA compliant.

Improve Data Security For Your Dental Practice

Cloud-based dental management software can help you lower overhead costs associated with IT maintenance, protect your network against hackers, and prevent costly data breaches.

Request a demo to see how tab32 can keep your PHI safe and your network secure.

Book a Demo Today!

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