This Is How Doctor Offices Are Fighting Ransomware

Healthy IT Protocols

A doctor’s office is no different than a traditional business. Each practice comes equipped with computers, firewalls, servers, and other network related devices. How can medical practices maintain a high level of cybersecurity? For starters, implementing system wide updates on a continuous basis provides up to date patches on security vulnerabilities. Secondly up to date systems helps prevent malicious actors from accessing the practice’s network with security holes plugged up. Lastly a healthy system is an optimized system for best cybersecurity practices.

How Can Doctor Offices Avoid Viruses?

The answer depends on how big the practice is. For example, a small medical office with one office manager, one associate, and one doctor can be educated on a continuous basis. Training sessions can be scheduled on a quarterly basis with a pass/fail quiz given at the end of the session. A managed IT service provider will be able to provide feedback on best practices from the test results.

However, a larger medical office with more associates will require more diligent IT protocols to be implemented. One protocol example consists of removing administrative access from all users. For instance, if an employee has admin rights – privilege to perform most functions within an operating system – he can accidentally install a malicious piece of software. A key cybersecurity component to combat a virus attack – remove admin rights from all users on the system.

A real benefit partnering with a managed IT service provider allows IT experts to tailor a game plan specific to the practice.

Consistent education remains a key factor in improving an end users computer knowledge. Hackers remain nondiscriminatory when attacking company employees. The attack can be towards an associate, office manager, or the doctor. The higher the employee’s status – the higher probability the virus can wreck havoc on the system.

Ransomware attacks continue to grow and target all levels of associates. As more and more individuals continue working remotely – attackers will amplify attempts to access workstations.

How Can Doctor Offices Increase Cybersecurity?

First the main decision maker for the doctor office will determine what information and devices will need the most attention. For instance, a server or workstation that has not been maintained for awhile will need to be audited and reviewed. The longer a device has not been maintained the higher probability the device remains exposed. The particular device would become priority 1.

Second determine the type of cybersecurity protocols in place and review. A managed IT service provider can collaborate with the main point of contact to determine validity of the protocols in place. For instance, if all employees remain active, educated individuals of cybersecurity best practices – the probability of the user falling to scams remain minimal. However, if employees remain unaware of the latest tactics performed by malicious entities – the probability increases to the practice falling prey to a ransomware attack.

Lastly, implementing standard IT practices is a smart short and long term strategy. For example, performing redundant scheduled backups on a continuous basis will help retain important data. Ensuring every workstation has an antivirus solution installed is another layer of protection for the network. Similarly educating all users on how to recognize a phishing email is vital to a medical office.

Cybersecurity has become a hot topic for any doctor office. Implementing even minimal IT standards can help prevent a major ransomware attack.

How Can Doctor Offices Fight Ransomware?

An example of fighting ransomware attacks – keep all employees educated on how to recognize ransomware attempts. Education remains one of the top initiatives for fighting cyber attacks. However, there are other IT methods to help prevent unwelcome digital guests.

For instance, sensible secure email practice is a perfect place to start. Malicious entities are becoming more sophisticated with email attacks. Phishing email campaigns have become rampant over the last few years.

A phishing email attempts to obtain sensitive information (think usernames, passwords, and financial information) for malicious reasons. We discuss and provide tips on recognizing phishing emails in a separate blog post. An easily digestible read for anyone wanting to learn about the subject.

Another strategy for fighting ransomware is by implementing enterprise level antivirus software. Similarly installing an antivirus that scans the workstation, server, and other network devices is essential for all medical practices. A solid antivirus app runs 24/7/365 in the background while not hogging the user’s computer resources. The antivirus software will detect if an intruder has penetrated the computer and quarantine the bad actor.

Antivirus software is a key component to any cybersecurity strategy. The luxury of a computer with a defense for viruses is a simple software to implement.

Doctor offices are no different than a traditional business. Computers, servers, and network devices are used to run the day-to-day operations of the medical practice. What type of ransomware protocols does your medical practice have in place? How is the practice combatting ransomware attacks?

Andrew Lopez
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