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Is Your Practice and Patient Data Safe?

Small businesses are often the target of data breaches. Learn how you can help protect your practice and patient information.

The danger of data breach continues to be a real threat for all businesses. You may think that it only affects large retailers and financial institutions, but unfortunately, small businesses like naturopathic practices are not immune. 

In fact, some cyber attackers target small businesses in particular, hoping they lack appropriate security measures. And if your practice suffers a data breach, not only is it expensive, you could lose patient trust.  

Even though you may not think your practice information is useful to a hacker, your patient data is very valuable. With access to patient names and addresses, a hacker can open credit accounts and commit fraud.  They can attempt to drain bank accounts.  Or more frighteningly, hackers can take the data they have pulled from your system and sell it to people who will use the information in ways that we cannot even imagine.

While there is no surefire way to protect your data from a breach, there are several steps you can take to protect your data.

  • Passwords.  Despite years of education from the IT and data industries, the No. 1 password remains "password."  And the No. 2 password? "12345."  Don’t laugh, because someone you know is using either one of these passwords.  While many people will complain they can’t remember all the passwords they have to set up, there are methods to make it easier. Start with a word you can remember. Make one letter a capital and add a number. So, take something like the word bread and make it bRead17.  Then, as you use it for different accounts, alter the password with the first letter of the website.  For example, for your Google password you might use bRead17g. 
  • Update your firewall frequently.  Cyber attackers are sophisticated, so if you haven’t updated your firewall in a year or more, they can easily sidestep this protective measure.  Why? Because the firewall lacks the capacity to identify and block the suspicious traffic that includes viruses and malware recently developed.
  • Don’t open suspicious email, particularly with attachments.  For that matter, don’t follow links to a website that you are not familiar with—even on Facebook.  Hackers are willing to wait, and those links may be loading malware that is collecting information without notice. 
  • Password protect your Wifi—even the “public” wifi in your lobby. This will slow down or prevent access to your network.

Cyber attacks are a reality for every business, but you can limit your risk with a few simple steps. This means you are protecting your assets, your practice and your patients; isn’t that worth the effort?

And, because cyber attacks frequently target smaller businesses, having insurance in place can help reduce the financial loss if your data is compromised. 

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