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By: Thomas Terronez – CEO, Medix Dental IT

Aspen Dental, one of the largest dental service organizations in the United States, recently suffered a cybersecurity incident, which is rumored to have caused significant damage to their internal systems. While the details of the incident have not been publicly disclosed by the company, this serves as a wake-up call for dental practices and organizations to start tightening their cybersecurity measures. In this article, we will discuss why dental practices are easy targets for cyber attackers and provide practical steps to mitigate the risk of a cybersecurity incident.

Why are dental practices easy targets for cyber attackers?

The dental industry as a whole does not invest adequately in IT or cybersecurity. Most practices prioritize efficiency over security, which leaves them vulnerable to cyber threats. Additionally, local practice management software often lacks security measures, and many practices rely on local IT vendors who do not have the resources to address security adequately. As a result, dental practices have become attractive targets for cyber attackers who tend to go for easy and vulnerable targets.

What steps can dental practices take to mitigate the risk of a cybersecurity incident?

The first step is to invest in staff cybersecurity training. Many cybersecurity incidents start with human error, such as clicking on a phishing email or downloading a malicious attachment. Educating staff on cybersecurity best practices can go a long way in preventing incidents.

Another practical step is to consider cloud practice management software with strong security measures. Cloud-based software provides an extra layer of security and ensures that practice management data is not impacted by local network incidents.

It’s also crucial to ensure that the practice’s IT infrastructure is up-to-date and secure. This includes ensuring that patches and updates are current, data is segmented from the practice network, and having endpoint protection with an active subscription, ransomware mitigation software, and a security appliance with active subscriptions between the internet connection and practice network. A risk assessment can also be done on the IT systems to identify potential vulnerabilities.

In conclusion, the recent Aspen Dental cybersecurity incident should serve as a wake-up call for dental practices and organizations to start taking cybersecurity seriously. While the actual financial impact of the incident is yet to be determined, dental practices can take action now to minimize the likelihood of a similar incident happening in their organization. By investing in staff cybersecurity training, using cloud-based software, and ensuring that the IT infrastructure is secure and up-to-date, dental practices can mitigate the risk of a cybersecurity incident and protect their patients’ confidential information.

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