Data Safety

Before dawn a panel truck silently backs up to the dental office door. A cat burglar picks the lock and a team of thieves surge into the office. They wrestle fifteen filing cabinets into the truck then take off to a secret warehouse where dozens of outlaw clerks await. The clerks page through each chart writing down names, addresses and dates of birth. Finally, the clerks hand over pages of precious handwritten data to the identity thieves.

That scenario is ridiculous. Attempting to steal identities from paper charts is foolish.

On the other hand a cyber criminal can hack thousands, even millions, of identities from electronic records anywhere in the world in seconds. The electronic records can be exploited instantly or sold to criminals on the dark web.

Or as an alternative the file cabinet thieves simply lock them up and send the dentist a note, “If you ever want to see your charts again…” Cyber criminals can do the same thing by encrypting the data and holding it for ransom. That is ransomware, the fastest growing cyber crime in healthcare.

Electronic records can be exploited by cyber criminals in ways that simply were not conceivable with paper records. Dentists who use electronic records have a moral and legal obligation to protect their patient’s data.

Three steps every dentist should take immediately to help protect patient data:

  1. Follow professional password protocols or use a password alternative such as a biometric.
  2. Set up an enterprise level firewall to block hackers.
  3. Encrypt patient data.