Risk Assessment

Breach Prevention in Healthcare Practices: 4 Tips to Keep Your Practice Safe and Secure

Featured image for Breach Prevention in Healthcare Practices: 4 Tips to Keep Your Practice Safe and Secure

Breach Prevention in Healthcare Practices: 4 Tips to Keep Your Practice Safe and Secure

Keeping information safe and secure has been challenging for businesses of all sizes over the last few years.


Dental and medical practices have these challenges, as well as growing compliance and insurance mandates. Expeditious shifts from in-person to online to hybrid workplaces forced companies to change, or at least reexamine, their cybersecurity practices and protocols, and far too often they aren’t’ prepared.


In fact, according to CyberEdge’s Cyberthreat Defense Report, 85% of organizations suffered from a successful cyberattack in 2021.


Now, businesses who have suffered cyberattacks along with companies who’ve been fortunate enough to avoid being a victim of breaches and hacking, are looking at ways they can bolster their defenses and safeguard their data. But which plans, practices, and services should these organizations invest in? How should you manage it as a healthcare practice?


Below are 4 steps businesses of all shapes and sizes can take to better protect themselves against cyber attacks:

Identify “Crown Jewels” of Your Business 


Understanding what information cybercriminals are after most is essential to combating cyber attacks. Therefore, creating an inventory list of the valuable data and assets within your organization, including manufacturer, model, hardware and software information, is of the utmost importance. In addition, take note of who has access to important data and information while also accounting for all storage locations. This practice will ensure that business leaders have a track record of accessibility so that they know where to look in case of a vulnerability or breach. The easiest way to do this is by having a security risk assessment performed on your practice network.


Protect Assets by Updating and Authenticating


At the end of the day, protecting your data and devices from malicious actors is what cybersecurity is all about. In order to accomplish this, make sure your security software is current. Investing security automation to keep softwares, web browsers, and operating systems monitored and up-to-date is one of the best defenses against a host of viruses, malware, and other online threats.


Furthermore, make sure your team get continuous training for breach prevention, identifying online scams, and understanding safe use of the practice computer systems.


Additionally, make sure all data is being backed up either in the cloud or via separate hard drive storage and understand your business continuity needs.


A general dental practice might be able to run without their server for a couple of days, but most specialty practices like periodontists, endodontists, and oral surgeons cannot. In this case you will want failover protection.


Another important way to keep your assets safe is by ensuring staff are using strong authentication (password protocols) to protect access to accounts and ensure only those with permission can access them. This includes strong, secure and differentiated passwords.


According to a 2021 PC Mag study, 70% of people admit they use the same password for more than one account. Using weak and similar passwords makes a hacker’s life a lot easier and can give them access to more materials than they could dream of. Finally, make sure employees are using multi-factor authentication. While this may result in a few extra sign-ins, MFA is essential to safeguarding data and can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful breach.

Monitor and Detect Suspicious Activity


Companies must always be on the lookout for possible breaches, vulnerabilities and attacks, especially in a world where many often go undetected. This can be done by investing in cybersecurity products or services that help monitor your networks such as antivirus and antimalware software.


Moreover, make sure your employees and personnel are following all established cybersecurity protocols before, during, and after a breach. Individuals who ignore or disregard important cybersecurity practices can compromise not only themselves, but the entire organization. Paying close attention to whether your company is fully embracing all of your cybersecurity procedures and technology is incumbent upon business leaders.


Have a Response Plan Ready


No matter how many safeguards you have in place, the unfortunate reality is that cyber incidents still occur. However, responding in a comprehensive manner will reduce risks to your business and send a positive signal to your patients and employees. Additionally, it could go a long way in shielding you from repercussions from your regulatory bodies, and ensuring you get insurance payouts.


Therefore, healthcare practices should have a cyber incident response plan ready to go prior to a breach. In it, practices should have written documentation of the actions each member should take, who to call first, and how to communicate with patients following an incident and more. It is common for healthcare practices to work with privacy & security consultants, and/or take courses to ensure all proper procedures are in place for prevention, and response.