Healthcare companies are an “irresistible” target for hackers, yet many dentists may believe that they are immune to cybersecurity breaches. Although the news certainly reports high-profile health care organizations are primarily becoming victims of cyber-attacks, smaller medical and dental practices are equally at risk. In fact, the harm is often more significant to small businesses that lack the resources to recover from financial and reputational damage. Now, more than ever, dentists need to explore IT security management for their practices.
The healthcare breaches aren’t new in Canada, but they are costly
One of the worst security breaches to happen in Canada resulted from the theft of an unencrypted laptop that exposed the personal data of more than half a million Medicentre Family Health Care Clinic patients. Millions of health care records in the U.S. and Canada have been compromised over the last few years, and over half of organizations that have experienced data breaches are smaller practices. Access is often gained through stolen devices, such as tablets, mobile phones, and laptops, as well as through phishing attempts. Unauthorized access is easier with smaller organizations that are less likely to have invested in comprehensive cybersecurity measures, and hackers are taking advantage.
Even accidental data loss can be devastating to a small dental practice
Old software systems that are not properly maintained are partially at fault for the ease in which hackers can access private data. Shockingly, many practices continue to ignore the importance of implementing an off-site backup system to protect their data from ransomware or catastrophic loss. Data may not be lost to the black market, but patients will question your reliability.
Dentists have significant amounts of data to monitor
Dental offices of any size typically have hundreds, if not thousands, of patients. Although some patients will make frequent visits to the dentist, most will only be seen a few times a year. To be sure, the number of cavities a patient has is of little interest to hackers, but dental offices end up being responsible for vast amounts of personal data beyond tooth health. Dental practices and other medical offices are appealing because any medical office will have basic personal information, such as addresses, phone numbers, social insurance numbers, and more. A dental office with only a basic security network will fail to prevent a data breach, resulting in a significant quantity of compromised information.
If no managed security system is in place, then there is no way to guarantee that data is protected. Technology has made managing a dental office much easier, with the ability to track patients and provide excellent service, but every dental office should be aware of the risks that exist and how to manage those risks, which includes implementing a robust cybersecurity strategy as well as providing comprehensive employee training. Do not wait to become a victim before you take action.
The ITeam understands the cybersecurity issues facing Canada dental practices. We are committed to helping Calgary- and Alberta-based dentists and medical professionals develop proactive, cost-effective IT strategies that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Contact us to learn more.