Advances in computer technology are bringing dramatic changes to orthodontic practice data. While computers were previously used for simple functions such as basic record keeping, these functions have now evolved to billing, digital radiography, digital dentistry, charting, and more.
With technology becoming an integral part of any medical practice, most orthodontists have to find the delicate balance between adopting most advanced systems for storing, extracting and analyzing patient data with a good orthodontic practice management software and at the same time ensure that such data is adequately protected.
What is a Data Breach in Orthodontic Practice Data?
A data breach is a security incident that exposes sensitive confidential or protected information to an untrusted environment without the authorization or knowledge of the system’s owner.
Orthodontic practices are now more than ever processing large patient, financial and other types of data which makes them a frequent target for hackers. In the event of a data breach, orthodontic practices risk losing patient’s protected health and financial information or even the facilities’ valuable data.
Why Do Hackers Target Orthodontic practices?
- Identity theft and Insurance fraud
Cybercriminals use the wealth of information contained in patient records to commit crimes like identity theft and health insurance fraud. For instance, theft of credit card data is a major risk for orthodontic practices that store patient financial information in their system records.
Just one orthodontic practices database can contain thousands of patients. Once cybercriminals access that data, they sell it on the dark web to people who are looking for fake identities to take out loans, leases and bank account in other people’s names.
Another reason why Orthodontic practices database are so attractive is the potential to profit from hefty ransom payments that orthodontists will pay for holding patient data hostage.
Ransomware attacks happen through malicious software designed to encrypt and block access to a certain type of file or computer system until a certain amount of money is paid.
Thousands of dental practices around the country are targeted for ransomware attacks every year through emails that look legitimate but in reality carry malicious software. Once these emails are opened, the malicious software attacks, compromises and shuts down entire networks.
- Weaker Safeguards
The biggest mistake that orthodontic practices make that leaves them vulnerable to cyber-attacks is assuming that they will not be targeted. If your mentality is ‘cybercrime can never happen to me’ then it is bound to happen eventually.
Cybercriminals are aware of the fact the healthcare industry is generally a late adopter of technology. While businesses in the financial sector have tightened their protocols to reduce incidences of data breaches, businesses in the healthcare industry have remained several years behind.
It’s also apparent that the orthodontists have been impacted by cyber-attacks more than other communities in the healthcare industry. Orthodontists must consider that the scope of data their practices’ carry gives them the highest risk of data breaches in the healthcare industry, especially concerning children’s records.