How to Keep Cyber Criminals from Affecting Your Dental Practice’s Financial Records
By: Erik Neilson
No dental accountant will argue against the fact that technology has forever changed the industry for the better. Between accounting software, digitized dental records and everything and cloud-based calendars, the modern dental practice can only thrive if focus is placed on embracing new technologies. All this said, technology has opened up doors for
1. Keep Your Operating Systems Up to Date
If there’s just one thing you do to help mitigate the threat of cybercrime, it should be to ensure that your operating system is current and up to date. Older operating systems tend to lack the patches and security updates necessary for dealing with the latest viruses, trojans and other potential threats. Plus, they simply don’t run the way they’re supposed to thanks to rapid advancements in technology over the years. Whether you’re on a Mac or PC platform, taking the time to update to the latest OS will do you and your practice a huge favor.
2. Avoid “Bring Your Own Device” Policies
Today, just about everyone has their own laptop and smartphone, and many members of your practice may choose to even work from these devices at times. While it would make sense to think that there’s nothing wrong with this idea (and chances are your staff members aren’t going to commit any cybercrimes), these devices can never be fully protected and may serve as bridges for hackers who are attempting to steal patient data. Rather than take the risk, your best bet will always be to enforce a strict policy that does not allow for anyone to bring their own devices unless they’ll be utilizing the public network.
3. Install the Right Protective Software
Updating your operating systems is certainly a great way to ensure more adequate protection of your patients’ records, but you’ve got to take things at least one step further, which means installing additional protective software. There are a number of different software instances that can help to keep the cybercrime from affecting your practice, but simply covering the basics should be enough to allow you to rest easy at night. Start with a firewall, antivirus and antimalware, all of which will play key roles in keeping your data safe going forward.
4. Back EVERYTHING Up
While paper medical records are quickly becoming relics of the past, they do come with the advantage of actually existing in a physical space. With digital anything, you’ll always be one step removed from having whatever you’re storing potentially disappear into thin air. This being said, digital work and associated records can be safeguarded by taking the time to back everything up on a regular basis. The cloud has completely changed the way backups are performed, but don’t assume that external hard drives are dinosaurs—they’re just another line of defense against cybercrime, and one you may want to consider embracing if you aren’t already doing so.
5. Work with a Professional IT Security Team
There’s no getting around the fact that most people in the dental accounting field don’t necessarily consider themselves experts in cybersecurity best practices. More importantly, there’s nothing wrong with this—accountants shouldn’t necessarily be tasked with having to learn the finer points of tech jargon they don’t understand. This is where it becomes beneficial to hire a professional IT security team that will take the pressure of cybersecurity off your shoulders, allowing you to get back to doing the work you excel at.
Note that not all IT firms are created equal, and some will offer services that others will not. Be sure you have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish before interviewing agencies.
Cybersecurity is certainly something that warrants the attention of dental accountants, but it doesn’t have to keep you up at night. Focus on covering the basics, and you’ll likely have nothing to worry about in the long run.
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