The Real Reason Why Dental Practices are Such a Prime Hacking Target… and Why You May Be Next in Line
I consider it a big part of my job at Advantech IT – one of the most important parts, in fact – to always stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings with cybersecurity around the world. If you want to beat your opponent, you have to learn to think like them – and in terms of protecting clients from hackers and others with malicious intentions, in my opinion, this is one of the most critical services that we provide.
When people think about common victims of data breaches, they usually think of major international corporations, financial institutions and other large businesses of that nature. This is why you might be so surprised to learn that one of the current prime targets for hackers doesn’t actually meet that description. With shocking regularity, some of the more recent attractive targets for hackers are actually those organizations that many of us take for granted…
… dental practices.
It’s true – not only was there a noticeable annual increase in breaches impacting these types of businesses but on average it also costs a dental practice about 12% of their annual operating revenue to repair the damage once an attack has occurred.
“But I don’t run a dental practice,” you might be saying to yourself. “What does any of this have to do with me?”
Far more than you realize, to be honest – especially if you’re making some of the same mistakes commonly found in dental practices across the country.
The Trouble With Dental Practices
To truly get a better understanding of why dental practices, in particular, are such a prime hacking target, one must only realize that literally any device connected to your network is a potential vulnerability just waiting to be exploited by someone who knows what they’re doing. Stopping yourself from becoming a victim of a hacking attempt always requires you to stay at least one step ahead of the types of people who wish to do you harm… and even modern-day dental practices aren’t really set up for that type of affair.
Dental practices are being hacked at an alarming rate, in large part, because their offices are filled with outdated software. Sure, these types of apps may “get the job done” in a literal sense – meaning that they help dentists provide care to their patients – but they were never designed to fend off the types of very real threats that we now collectively face.
In fact, some legacy applications are so poorly written that you need admin credentials for the network… that hackers have access to as well.
This, coupled with equipment like older x-ray machines, creates a type of “one-two punch” in the worst possible way. Dental practices think that they’re saving a huge amount of money by not upgrading, but what they’re really doing is increasing their attack surface exponentially.
It’s absolutely true that you might save a bit of money by not upgrading those older applications for another few years. But are you going to save approximately $3.92 million? Because that’s the global average cost of a data breach as of 2019, according to the experts at IBM and Ponemon Institute.
The answer to that question, by the way, is a resounding “of course you’re not.”
Modern Threats Demand Modern Solutions
There’s a somewhat romantic idea that a lot of people have about hackers – when they hear the term, they think about rooms filled with computer geniuses located halfway around the world who can crack into any system at any time using skill and perseverance.
The reality, of course, is far different from that. What you’re really talking about are people who go after the “low hanging fruit” 99.999% of the time. They don’t hack into dental practices because of the challenge it represents – they hack into dental practices because it’s so easy to do so with the way many are currently set up. It’s simply faster and far more efficient to target an industry known for antiquated best practices and outdated software than it is to go after business with cybersecurity defenses that may be a little more up-to-date.
Which, of course, is why your own business may very well be next in line.
In truth, it doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running or even what industry you’re operating in – if you’re increasingly relying on legacy applications that were never designed to keep up with the modern times, cybercriminals WILL eventually take notice. At that point, you WILL become a target – and unfortunately, you have very little control over what happens next.
But thankfully, you don’t actually have to allow things to reach that point in the first place – at least, not with the right partner by your side. If you’re worried that your industry may soon become “Target Number One” for hackers with malicious intentions and want to start taking steps today to prevent a disaster tomorrow, terrific – we may be able to help.
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If the security of your Massachusetts or Southern New England area business is something you'd like to discuss, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up an introductory phone call. It'll give us a chance to make sure our organizations are a good fit for one another, which puts us in an excellent position to know exactly what we need to do to keep your business protected today, tomorrow and beyond.
Crystal is the COO and President of Advantech IT, a Fall River IT support company that has been helping small businesses by providing an innovative and unique blend of managed IT services in all of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and certain parts of Connecticut. Learn more about Crystal and Advantech IT here.