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The Key to Preventing Cyber-Attacks for Your Dental Practice

Kiltesh Patel
April 24, 2020

An employee’s email account at Jefferson Dental Care (JDC) Healthcare Management in Dallas, TX was hacked during  July and August of 2019. As a result, 45,748 patients’ PHI was compromised. 

The breach was  discovered in October and JDC launched a forensic investigation. The provider notified affected patients and offered complimentary credit monitoring and identity protection services.

Phishing attacks are impacting dental practices of all sizes. Here’s what you need to know to protect your business and patients:

What’s a Phishing Attack?

Phishing is a cyberattack method that uses disguised emails to trick recipients into clicking malicious links, providing sensitive information (e.g., login credentials,) or downloading malware or ransomware. 

Hackers will then be able to breach your system and steal sensitive patient data such as insurance information, social security numbers, and credit card details. They can often profit from selling such information on the black market or committing online/insurance fraud.

Many hackers prey on dental offices that have on-premise software that runs on local servers because they often don’t have the resources (e.g., a large IT team) to keep their software up-to-date with the latest security patches.

Consequences of Phishing Attacks on Your Dental Practice

Phishing attacks often result in data breaches, which cost healthcare practices an average of  $429 per record.

These security breaches compromise sensitive patient information and often lead to hefty fines due to violation of HIPAA regulations. They’ll also tarnish your reputation, erode the trust of your patients, and even cause the loss of businesses. 

In addition, you may incur expenses associated with forensic investigations or credit monitoring services for the affected patients — hurting your bottom line for years to come.

How to Protect Your Dental Practice From Phishing Attacks ?

If you’re running an on-premise dental practice management software, you can mitigate your risks in the short term by:

  • Updating your Windows Server, database server, and practice management servers to patch known vulnerabilities.
  • Improving the IT security of your systems and networks using firewalls, antivirus software, VPN connections, etc.
  • Enforcing strong password protocols for logging into your system and making sure that employees don’t use the same username and password for their personal online activities.
  • Providing adequate cybersecurity training so employees won’t click on suspicious links that could lead to malware or ransomware attacks.

Despite the efforts to strengthen IT security, most dental practices that run local systems are still highly vulnerable to phishing attacks since on-premise IT teams aren’t equipped to handle the many aspects of keeping a computer network safe.

For example, Jefferson Dental Care has an IT team but hackers still managed to breach the local system because protecting a local network from phishing attacks require complex measures that isn’t possible for the team to implement in a timely manner.

Long-term Strategic Mitigation of Cybersecurity Risks

The best way to protect your PHI and business-critical data is to migrate to a  cloud dental software platform. 

Cloud providers such as Google and Amazon have a large security budget that no practice management software provider can match. Cloud-based dental management software built on these platforms offer the best protection for dental practices that want to get the best of IT security without the high costs. 

Also, choose a reputable software provider that takes cloud security seriously. It should have a team of IT experts to ensure that the application is HIPAA-compliant and up-to-date with the latest security protocols.

Improve Your IT Security with a Cloud-based Dental Management Software

By using cloud-based  dental management software, you’ll be able to lower overhead costs associated with IT maintenance and improve your network’s security. You can also rest assured that you’re adhering to the latest HIPAA guidelines so you can costly data breaches.

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

Book a demo now!

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