When discussing the IT needs of medical professionals - especially in terms of the technologies they need to remain compliant to regulations like HIPAA - there seems to be an unfortunate tendency to overlook one very important medical field: dentistry. Yet, once dentistry is really considered, it becomes clear how dangerous this oversight can be.
Here, we’ll review why the dental industry needs to be concerned about cyberthreats, and what can be done to minimize them.
There are various factors that contribute to dental offices being targeted by cybercriminals. Some of the major ones include the following:
With a few exceptions, most dental practices fall definitively into the “small business” category, which makes them an intriguing target for most cybercriminals. As compared to enterprise companies, small businesses (like the typical dental office) traditionally have far weaker cybersecurity standards and smaller cybersecurity budgets. There’s a reason that over 40 percent of attacks are leveraged against small businesses.
There’s other reasons that medical offices are so often targeted by cyberattack attempts - there’s a lot of valuable information to be absconded with. Whether you’re talking about personally identifiable information or financial data, a dental office should be viewed as a specific variety of medical office - and should be considered a likely target for many forms of attack. For instance, the nature of the dental industry and its reliance on data and other solutions makes dental offices a prime target for ransomware (never mind the other forms of attack that could be leveraged).
Let’s face facts - dentists, hygienists, orthodontists, dental assistants and lab technicians all have a specialized skill set that enables them to do their job. Unfortunately, that skill set doesn’t typically include cybersecurity best practices and threat mitigation. While a practice shouldn’t necessarily strive to turn its entire staff into cybersecurity experts, staff members at all levels of an organization need to be educated on the basics - password best practices, risk prevention strategies, and behaviors that can undermine the practice’s security. Unfortunately, many lack this education, and put the entire operation at risk as a result.
There are an assortment of solutions and best practices that can help to reduce the risk that a dental practice encounters. The big one is internal education. As a vast number of threats these days leverage social engineering to manipulate the members of an organization, your staff needs to be educated so that they can identify potential threats, and follow proper procedures to report and mitigate, or eliminate, these threats.
In addition to training, implementing security solutions can help to minimize the need for a practice’s employees to get involved at all. From spam filtering, antimalware, firewalls, to all of the other available solutions, dental offices cannot afford to skimp on security.
Does your practice need some assistance in securing its operations and data? KT Connections can help by doing everything described here, and more! We’re always trying to improve our expertise by attending various industry-focused events - that way, we can better serve your practice’s needs. Reach out to us today to learn more about what we can do by calling 605-341-3873.
Rodd Ahrenstorff is the Director of Business Operations for KT Connections, as well as a member of the company’s ownership team starting in 2014. Rodd has been working in the computer and telecommunication fields for over twenty years—a term during which he has held a number of leadership positions. In the past, he has served as a broadcast television engineer, an systems architect, and most recently Director of Information Technology, including a role as a HIPAA Security Officer for behavioral health and multi-specialty medical providers.