The transformation of manual processes to digital has been growing in the healthcare industry for years, and dentistry is no different. Digitizing not only workflows, but also the patient experience helps dental practices to become more competitive and more productive while offering a higher level of patient care to clients. From scheduling and billing to radiography and digital dentistry, dental offices are shifting their priorities from a manual world to one filled with leading-edge technology tools.
However, the dark side of those time-saving tools and strategies is a greater exposure to incursions by malicious actors — otherwise known as hackers — who are waiting for vulnerabilities they can exploit to get to your sensitive patient data. And because dentists are often in receipt of some of the highest risk records — children’s — they are often the focus of healthcare-oriented attacks. Cyberattacks can not only shut down your business and compromise data, but they can also lead to loss of reputation as well as loss of revenue.
Proper preparation and the use of cybersecurity best practices is essential to guarding your dental practice from cyberattacks.
Cybersecurity Best Practices for Dental Offices
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires administrators in dental offices to monitor their IT networks, analyze risks, and create proactive solutions that can minimize exposure of sensitive data. A good way to ensure these tasks are confronted and handled appropriately is to follow cybersecurity best practices, such as:
Conducting a Cybersecurity Audit
The first thing you need to bolster your cybersecurity is a comprehensive audit of your infrastructure to ascertain current weaknesses and vulnerabilities. During this process, your in-house IT team or third-party Managed IT partner will take a close look at the way your business is structured, accounting for both remote staff and operations as well as brick-and-mortar business processes, paying special attention to how data is shared, stored, and secured.
Offering Cybersecurity Training
Since dental offices must be compliant with HIPAA rules and regulations, it is essential that you develop and implement a cybersecurity awareness training program. Educating employees on current cyber threats is the first step in implementing a good cyber hygiene program that can help you protect data better. Your staff should be able to identify common hacker techniques such as spear phishing, phishing, and other social engineering methods.
Scanning for Vulnerabilities
Vulnerabilities open doors for hackers and give them access to your sensitive data. Common weaknesses that can contribute to a data breach include:
- Weak passwords
- Unsecured network protocols
- Outdated equipment
- Unpatched hardware or software
- Improperly configured firewalls
- Open ports
Your in-house team or third-party partner will use leading-edge technology to locate and reduce these vulnerabilities, effectively locking down your system and locking out potential malicious actors. While all offices should have remote monitoring software that constantly scans for suspicious activity on your network, comprehensive vulnerability tests should be conducted at regular intervals to ensure your network is properly secured.
Conducting Penetration Testing
One other method you can use to foil potential hackers is employing penetration testing. During this testing, an IT expert will attempt to bypass your security protocols to test their efficacy. This expert is working for you, so there is no worry of a data breach if he or she does gain access. Instead, you will use this information to fix that vulnerability and ensure that no hackers can use the same technique to break into your network.
Blue Technologies Can Help Keep Your Dental Data Secure
Keeping pace with the evolving cybersecurity threat landscape is difficult for most in-house IT teams. Hiring experts with this type of knowledge is expensive and most dental practices don’t have the resources to do so. That’s why we have created a team of cybersecurity experts that can go to work for you to create a secure network that keeps your data safe and your office compliant with the appropriate data privacy regulations.
Our team can analyze your current infrastructure for vulnerabilities and assess your cybersecurity needs and challenges. Then, we will develop, deploy, and maintain a comprehensive plan to keep your data safer and give you — and your clients — peace of mind.
Keep your dental practice’s data safe from cyberthreats. Contact a Blue Technologies consultant and learn how our Managed IT program can reduce the possibility of a costly data breach.