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Everything You Need to Know to Stop Destructive Ransomware

Protect your dental practice from ransomware with secure backups, strong firewalls, email scanning, employee training, and consulting with IT specialists.  

According to ZD Net, recent ransomware attacks have left hundreds of dental practices vulnerable. Ransomware is becoming more sophisticated and has the ability to lock down your data and cripple your practice. Increasingly, thieves have the ability to encrypt your files and hold the information hostage until a ransom is paid. The following are six important steps that should be taken to protect your dental practice from ransomware.

1. Why Should You Implement Email Scanning?

Making sure you have a secure email scanning system is one of the first steps you should take to protect your practice. There are several types of email scanning programs available. It’s important to find a program that fits the needs of your individual practice. The best firewall system and antivirus software in the world won’t help if your practice is targeted through emails. Simple procedures can also go a long way in preventing problems with email.

  • Make sure employees don’t all use the same password.
  • Never follow links in emails that are unsolicited.
  • Implement policies that block or restrict attachments.

2. Why Should You Secure Strong Firewalls?

A firewall is hardware or a program that filters incoming information to your computer system. It’s essential to have a strong firewall system as well as sandboxing support whether you’re trying to combat ransomware or keep other types of malware out. It’s sometimes recommended to have more than one firewall system to add more than one layer of protection. Make sure to do adequate research before selecting a hardware or software program. Make sure it’s from a reputable company.

3. Why Should You Maintain Secure Backup?

Backing up all your data, records, and patient information is critically important to surviving a ransomware attack. You should backup all important data in the cloud and locally. This will ensure that in the worst case scenario that you’ll still have access to your records. According to UC Berkeley, your backups should be completely separate from the rest of your network. Backups that are connected to the network in any way may be affected by the ransomware.

4. Why Should You Have Ongoing Employee Training?

All it takes is one employee opening the wrong email or falling for a phishing scam to open up your practice to costly ransomware. It’s necessary to include ongoing employee training in your yearly budget. It’s also important to make sure new employees are adequately trained before their first day on the job. Employees need to know exactly what a phishing attack looks like, understand the dangers of giving out information to the wrong person, and always be encouraged to report anything suspicious.

5. Why Should You Put Together a Response Plan?

Preventing an attack should be your first line of defense, but planning for the worst case scenario is something every business should do. Homeland Security suggests several steps you should take if a ransomware attack does occur.

  • Isolate any infected systems.
  • Turn off devices and computers.
  • Scan your backup data to make sure it is free from malware.

It’s also recommended to take a photo of the ransom note and notify the local authorities. Even if those that launched the attack are never caught, you’ll have a police report for insurance purposes.

6. Why Should You Consult with an IT Specialist?

Your expertise is dentistry, not fighting malware. To keep your electronic records safe and your entire system running smoothly it is necessary to maintain the latest technological safeguards. There are several reasons why it’s smart to hire an outside dental IT team. An outside IT source can provide proactive maintenance, enhanced security, email monitoring, and 24/7 support. Dental Products Report suggests working with an IT specialist that is familiar with HIPAA regulations.

Following these steps can help your practice avoid a costly ransomware attack. They can also minimize the damage if one does occur. Your practice is too important not to take the necessary precautions to protect it.