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If a patient is visiting his/her dentist the last thing that they should worry about is who is seeing their data. After all, they are there for their regular cleaning session and not a front-row seat to a cyber hacking session.
But that’s not what happened to over 1 million US dental patients. It has been reported that one of the bigger American healthcare providers has been one of the growing numbers of victims of a cyber-attack. If you talk to experts, it seems that this is not just a one-off thing. They expect to see more attacks in the future if practices don’t put up defenses and proactive security features.
Dental Care Alliance, a dental support company, reported an almost month-long hacking beginning on September 18, 2020. Their headquarters is located in Sarasota, Florida and they claimed to have contained the attack by October 13. Dental Care Alliance claims to have over 320 affiliated dental practices in 20 states.
Now, you might be asking yourself. Why would hackers target a dental support company?
Well, thing is, Dental Care Alliance also offers IT solutions to its partners. This means that they also handle the patient data for all their affiliates.
According to the report, the hackers got away with the names, addresses, dental diagnosis, treatment information, billing information, bank account numbers, and health insurance information. According to the report provided by Dave Quigley, general counsel of DCA, they have notified all 1,004,304 people who were affected through a letter.
To date, no clear support and remediation services are being offered by DCA because they see no evidence showing that the personal information harvested during the hack was used for malicious purposes.
A similar but separate attack came 10 months prior after a Colorado information technology company handling over a hundred dental practices became a victim of a ransomware attack. The attack on Complete Technology Solutions left staff unable to access treatment schedules and patient records. Practices that were hit included a number from Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Nevada which included the Pediatric Dental Specialists of Greater Nebraska.
But what can we, as dentists and business owners in general, learn from the recent hackings? Here are a couple of things you should be wary of moving forward.
In the past, a lot of businesses never really considered cybersecurity a priority mostly because they thought they are not targets. Ten years ago that would have been partially correct but records have shown that in the past few years hackers consider all businesses as a fair game.
So if you think that the only victims are the big businesses or those that handle financial stuff are the only targets then you are sorely mistaken. A lot of hackers have turned to attacking smaller businesses instead. This is because they have realized that all businesses, big and small, have one thing in common that they can leverage – data. Taking these data for ransom, may it be customer or business data, can surely cripple a business. So just because you are a smaller business does not mean you are safe. You should think about securing your data as soon as possible.
As data security gets better, so do the hackers. In the past, the regular modus is to take down the target’s network and devices. The goal is to cripple operations. For the business to get everything back in working condition, the business has to pay up. This proved to be ineffective nowadays because businesses already have security features that prevent such attacks or they have an IT team that can resolve the issues right away. So instead of directly attacking devices and networks, they silently infiltrate an organization’s network and take their data or hold it for ransom.
Stolen data can be anything from customer details to proprietary business information. As a business, the last thing you would want is to get your secrets known to the world or your customers knowing their data got stolen through your organization. So you pay the ransom and when you do, the terrorists win. Another form of ransomware attack that is getting more popular these days is when hackers encrypt your data. To decrypt your files, you need to pay the ransom to receive the decryption key. As long as the files are encrypted, you can’t access or use the files. While there are a lot of websites and services out there that can help decrypt files, there are new variants daily so you might get hit by a new version that can’t be decrypted easily.
The two biggest cyberattacks on the dental industry that were mentioned above would have been prevented by one thing – a good IT team. The attack wasn’t carried out in a day but in almost four weeks. Any good IT team would have detected the attack by then. That is why looking for a good IT partner is paramount in any cybersecurity plan for businesses. This is not to say that an IT team will result in zero successful attacks. But with an experienced IT team, they can quickly identify the attack and mitigate any damage to your business or customers.
Veltec Networks has been working closely with the dental industry for years. As such, they have created an industry-specific system to help and protect dental clinics. As an IT provider, Veltec Networks provide an all-in-one IT service for those in the dental industry. With a team of experienced IT engineers and specialists, you can rest assured knowing your business is protected by one of the best in the industry.
With Veltec Networks, not only do we aim to help your practice become more productive and efficient but also safe and secure. So if you are having second thoughts about the security of your data, give us a call and we’ll help you give your patients quality service.