Are You Gambling With Your Practice Data?

In the modern world, data is everything.

That is why we have a lot of laws surrounding data handling and privacy. 

This is also the reason why businesses invest a lot in securing both business and customer data.

This is also why hackers are employing different tricks to steal and put your data up for ransom. Such attacks are called ransomware attacks, and they target all types of business, from big corporations to that small dental clinic down the street.


What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts data and holds it for ransom. The attack can start anywhere from clicking a malicious link to downloading an unfamiliar file.

The idea behind ransomware is simple. Businesses that have sensitive information will pay hackers so they won't divulge or delete their data. The ransom amount can vary. This year alone, an insurance company paid $40 million to a group of hackers holding their data ransom. Experts also estimate that a business gets hit with a ransomware attack every 11 seconds.

Scary, right? That's not even the tip of the iceberg.

This year, experts have seen an increase in the frequency of attacks. In a survey conducted by Sophos, about 37% of their respondents claimed they were victims of a ransomware attack last year. This number is believed to increase this year as malicious emails increase 600% due to the pandemic. 

While it is true that not all that becomes targeted by a ransomware attack becomes a victim, around 71% do get infected.

But think about it, have you heard of a dental practice that got attacked? Do you know of any dentist that has had a ransomware problem? Probably not. So you shouldn't worry.

Right?


Why Your Dental Practice Should Worry About Ransomware

While it is true that most of the ransomware attacks we hear about in the news are that of more prominent companies - small businesses get attacked as well. More often than you thought.

Experts believe hackers find it more profitable to hit smaller targets than to go for the bigger ones. This can be due to several reasons, but it all boils down to how they treat security.

When you are just a small business trying to get by, you don't feel the need to get security. Aside from not seeing any reason why anybody would target you, there's also the budget issue. For a lot of dental practices, getting your data secured is an expense not everybody can afford.

The bad news is that while there is some truth in the idea that some 3-4 years ago, no hacker would even want to waste time on a dental practice, this has changed significantly. 

In research conducted by Infrascale, they found out that about half of SMBs became victims of ransomware attacks. Of this number, 70% decided to pay to gain back control of their data. 

What does this tell us?

This shows that hackers are now targeting smaller businesses. Gone are the days when they were targeting large companies for that big payday. Their modus nowadays revolves around looking for the most vulnerable targets and ask for "reasonable" ransoms that they are more likely to pay. This ensures they get paid - instead of waiting for weeks with no ransom getting paid.

If you think your practice data is safe now, it might not be soon.


What Can You Do To Protect Your Data?

While all we've talked about so far sound so dreary, there's still good news.

Ransomware attacks aren't precisely unavoidable. Most of the ransomware attacks on smaller businesses can be traced back to lack of security and poor employee Internet etiquette. If both these get addressed, your business will be safer.

But let's list down the things you can do so you can protect your practice data from ransomware attacks.

  1. Secure your network - Most ransomware attacks happen on networks that lack security. If you want to protect your data, you should monitor your network 24/7 for any malicious activity. This way, if malware infiltrates the network, you can do whatever is necessary to control its spread.
  2.  Filter messages and attachments - Many modern ransomware attacks start from emails with infected links or attachments. That is why one of the best defences is filtering emails entering your network through all devices within your network. Doing this will lessen the chances of a ransomware attack from human error.
  3. Create regular backups of your data - When you create backups of your data (and keep it safe), the effect of a ransomware attack will diminish. With a data backup, you can opt not to pay the ransom and just start with the data you have from your backup.
  4. Teach your employees proper Internet etiquette - A lot of SMBs fall prey to ransomware attacks because their employees don't know any better. Employees should have a good understanding of what is safe and what's not online, so you limit your risks of getting attacked.


Leave The Security to the Experts

At this point, you may be wondering, "How are we supposed to do all those things?"

Doing all those tips mentioned above all by yourself can be a real hassle. Not to mention ineffective if not done correctly. That is why if you want to protect your dental practice data from ransomware, it's best to call the experts for help.

If you need help backing up your practice data safely, you can turn to Dental Vault for help. Dental Vault offers HIPAA-certified and industry-specific data backup solutions for dental practices. With over 700 dentists trusting Dental Vault, you know you are in good hands. 

Founded in 2004, Dental Vault has well over 15 years of experience providing quality service to dental practices. They also offer 24/7 with a 99.9% same-day tick response, so you are sure to have an expert on your case right away. Call Dental Vault today at 1-833-468-2858 and schedule a call with one of their tech specialists and find out how they can help your dental practice be safer from a ransomware attack.


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