Aug 31, 2022

How to Protect Your Dental Office from Cyber Threats in 2022

Sarah Harris | Aug 31, 2022 | 7 min read

Cyberattacks and other threats have never been more prevalent than they are today. They target all kinds of organizations and individuals, including dental practices.

Keeping your dental practice and its systems and data safe is absolutely essential. You need to ensure that your patient information stays private to maintain HIPAA compliance and uphold your practice’s reputation.

There are many different ways that a dental practice can go about improving its security against cyber threats. Here are some key areas you should focus on to protect your dental practice:

Recognize the Danger Your Practice Faces

One of the most important steps that any dental practice can take to protect itself from cyber threats is to realize just how serious the danger is. While you might think dentistry isn’t a major target for hackers and other malevolent third parties, you’d be wrong.

Your dental practice could give hackers access to a rich source of confidential information. That includes sensitive medical information, identifying information that can be used in identity theft, and even financial and payment information.

The danger of this data is real and present, and you can’t afford to go without proper protection. Securing your practice with the right dental IT solution could be the decision that saves you from financial and legal disaster.

Make a Move to On-Cloud Servers

On-site servers are a potential vulnerability for dental practices. Many still rely on on-site physical servers and local support to handle their important data and systems. However, this type of setup is among the most vulnerable.

By making the change to cloud-based dental IT support, you can significantly reduce your risk. The organizations offering these services put the best industry practices in place to keep your data safe and your confidential information protected. By contracting with them, you will demonstrate your desire for HIPAA-level safety compliance.

Not only will you be safer, but you’ll also enjoy better access to support and more robust service. You can even save money compared to local dental IT support.

Keep Your Systems Up to Date

Many of the most serious attacks against dental practices and other organizations that handle sensitive data are made possible by out-of-date software and hardware. Hackers continuously evolve their methods and have become increasingly sophisticated.

The only way to keep ahead of their cyberattacks is to keep all of your systems and software properly updated. If you rely on multiple solutions to handle your practice management software (PMS), servers, and other systems, you could be out of date without even realizing it.

Moving to a dedicated IT support provider can streamline this process. They can ensure that all of your software is properly updated with the latest protections against ever more complex cyberattacks.

Train Your Staff on Information Security

There are many different ways that third parties can try to access your sensitive information, and most of them focus on the human element. While regular updates can keep software secure, there’s always a risk that you and your staff can accidentally provide access to another party.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you should provide regular training for your staff on cyber attack awareness and prevention. The most common tactics in this area are often centered around phishing and impersonation. A third party will pretend to be a patient, vendor, or technical support agent to gain access to sensitive information.

If you use a dedicated dental IT support provider, you can avoid some of these threats by consolidating all of your IT services into one delegated authority. That way, there is less risk of your staff divulging information to someone impersonating support because you have a single, easy-to-verify source of contact.

Get Support When You Need It

When something goes wrong with your IT systems, it could present a potential opportunity for a cyber attack. In some cases, the issues you’re experiencing could be signs that a cyber attack is currently ongoing.

To ensure that your dental practice is properly protected, you need access to IT support as soon as something goes wrong. If you’re with a local support provider, they might not have the scale to provide on-demand support for your specific issue.

By going with managed dental IT support, you’ll have 24/7 access to technical support for all of your needs. Not only is support available whenever you need it, but by working with a larger team specifically focused on dental IT, you’ll ensure you have access to the specific expertise and experience you need to resolve any issue.

Make Use of Professional Vulnerability Assessments

The issue with cyberattack vulnerabilities is that you need to know about them before you can take action to mitigate them. However, these vulnerabilities are often difficult to spot, highly technical, and often only apparent after an attack.

By undergoing a professional vulnerability assessment with an experienced dental IT firm, you’ll be able to get out ahead of cyberattacks. A professional assessment will cover all areas of your IT needs, including your network security, anti-virus, updates, router security, and staff education.

The report you get from your vulnerability assessment can help you make effective choices to protect your dental practice from cyberattacks. A little preventative safety could save you from a major disaster in the future.

Make Your Communications More Secure

Communications are a prime candidate for hackers to target with cyberattacks. They can contain significant amounts of sensitive information and are often easier to access than servers and other systems.

However, you can proactively protect your email communications by implementing hosted email encryption. This method improves safety by using a secure email gateway that can keep your communications from being intercepted.

This technology is easy to use but is often difficult to set up. You can ensure you get the email encryption configuration you need by hiring trusted professionals to handle the implantation. When choosing dental IT professionals for your hosted email encryption, you can rest easy knowing that your emails are secure.

Always Have a Backup

If you have on-site servers with no backup, you’re running an incredible risk. Hardware failure isn’t a matter of if — it’s a matter of when. All hardware eventually fails, and if your servers fail without a backup, you can lose important data and records that your practice relies on.

Even if you use software like Open Dental, Eaglesoft, or Dentrix to manage your practice, significant amounts of crucial data are still stored on your physical servers. You need regular backups to prevent data loss in the case of hardware failure.

An off-site cloud backup is one of the best ways to do this. Physical backups require you to purchase and maintain additional storage hardware. A cloud backup can carry out regular backups using automation, so you don’t even have to think about the backup process anymore.

Get the Right Antivirus Software

Your anti-virus software is an essential part of your plan for staying safe from cyberattacks. Today, anti-virus software does a lot more than just stop suspicious programs. You might not realize just how much your antivirus software keeps you safe from threats every day.

However, you need to ensure that you have the right software for your needs. Not all software is made with HIPAA and other data confidentiality regulations in mind. Dental practices require a higher protection standard than most other businesses and individuals.

If you entrust your dental IT support to a dedicated support provider, it can ensure that you have the appropriate antivirus software. It will also ensure that the software is up to date at all times so that you stay fully protected.

Make Sure Your Remote Access Is Secure

Are you checking emails from home or even working completely remotely on some occasions? If so, you need to ensure that you have a secure remote access system. Simply logging in from a laptop isn’t enough to ensure both endpoint and network security.

With the right remote access solution, you’ll be able to securely access important information and systems from anywhere. The straightforward process for accessing these systems will keep important data secure without interfering with your workflows.

Remote access can be incorporated into your overall dental IT support services. That way, you can ensure that all of your solutions work together properly and that unexpected integration issues aren’t causing any security vulnerabilities.

Let the Professionals Keep Your Practice Safe

When it comes to finding the right solution to protect your dental practice against cyberattacks, you should choose an organization that can provide for all of your needs.

Zenith Dental IT is just that organization. We provide top-of-the-line dental IT support and services for a wide range of independent practices and some of the largest DSOs around.

Our solutions can ensure that your practice is secure with the best practices in cloud-based servers and networking, anti-virus software, vulnerability assessments, and hosted email encryption. We’re always available 24/7 to provide for all of your IT support needs.

If you require a custom solution that accounts for your dental practice’s unique security and IT posture, reach out to Zenith Dental IT today to discuss your options.


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