The Internet makes receiving and transferring information and everything else we do in the office easier and faster. Unfortunately it can also make it easier and faster for thieves and hackers to compromise our records. Some dentists are so afraid of computer viruses or Internet hackers they won’t use computerized records or connect to the Internet. They want a guarantee that the records are impenetrable. That’s just silly.
We fear that which we do not understand. Stories about pre-teen Internet hackers, identity theft, computer viruses or worse yet a worm (whatever that is; it sounds hideous) are enough to make anyone start to look at their friendly computer with a bit of suspicion. In order to quell our fears let’s look at computer security and compare it to everyday security issues we do understand.
Is it possible to absolutely prevent anyone from ever, ever hacking into your computer? The answer is no. Is it possible to prevent someone from ever, ever breaking into your home or office, stealing your car or for that matter robbing the bank where you have deposited your valuables? Again the answer is no. What is possible is to use basic security measures that make it more difficult for a thief to break in and lower your risk.
Another factor is the value or attractiveness to thieves. If you are driving a brand new Ferrari you have more to protect than if you are putting around in a 1985 Yugo. As hard as it is to acknowledge our dental offices are not Ferraris to hackers. That would be a bank or department store. In the hacker world a dental office is a Yugo.
Security for your home or car starts with simply locking the doors. However, if you want to be more secure you can add on more systems. Such as more expensive locks, dead bolts, the club, burglar alarms, LoJack, bars on the windows, video monitors, metal detectors, roving Dobermans or 24 hour guards. Each system adds to the security but is also adds to the cost and hassle factor. There comes a point depending on your level of paranoia and tolerance for irritation where you say “enough already”.
It is the same with your computer and Internet access. You can simply start by locking the doors; that is using a password to logon. Next install a firewall and virus protection. For the vast majority of dental offices that is all you need.