3 Actions That Can Maintain Data Security for Your Dental Practice

Sep 14, 2022

It can be a dangerous world out there!

That’s not to say you should live in fear. But it is a wake-up call about why data security for your dental practice is a big deal.

Speaking of a wake-up call, the American Association of Dental Office Management found:

”During the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminal activity increased to an all-time high. According to Fortune Magazine’s 2022 Cyber Threat Report, the healthcare industry faced a 755% increase in ransomware attacks.” 1

And according to Teknologize:

”The healthcare industry is one of the most highly targeted for cybercrimes, given the confidential personally identifiable information (PII) contained in an electronic health record that is built to share information with other health care providers.” 2

Hundreds of dental practices were affected by ransomware in August 2019. The American Dental Association reported that the attack focused on DDS Safe, a dental-focused technology provider. Approximately 432 dentists were affected. 3

That would appear to be strong motivation for taking action to secure your dental practice data.

A digital future requires decisive action

The more digital your dental practice becomes, the more prepared you need to be to secure your data. Electronic health records, virtual applications, teledentistry and more can improve your patient experience.

At the same time, those innovations put a target on your data. This doesn’t signal the need to panic — but it does signal the need to prepare.

Lorne Lavine, DMD, HIPAA and data security expert, and founder and president of The Digital Dentist, defines how decisive your action must be in the evolving digital environment.

Dr. Lavine says “it all boils down to one thing”:

”When it comes to protecting data, ransomware protocols are far and away the most critical thing.

The first critical step is keeping the ransomware out.

Step two is dealing with it if it does get in.

And step three is having proper recovery protocols in place if steps one and two fail.” 4

The ransomware warning is adequate motivation to assure that your sensitive patient and practice data are locked down.

Now that you know the enemy, you can take some essential cybersecurity actions.

Three actions to help maintain data security in your dental practice

1-Train for team awareness

According to Stanford University researchers, approximately 88 percent of all data breaches are due to human error. 5

Human vulnerabilities are easy targets for cybercriminals. That’s good reason to be intentional about training your team to be aware of security risks, including:

  • Awareness about phishing attacks. For example, don’t open attachments from unknown senders. Match email addresses with senders, be aware of grammar and misspellings and, when in doubt, communicate with the sender.
  • Awareness about your passwords. Keep them strong (e.g., numbers, letters and symbols) and avoid duplication.
  • Awareness about the value of two-factor authentication on social media platforms, third-party applications, etc.

2-Develop a recovery plan

This aligns with “the best defense is a good offense” principle. You might not experience a cyberattack, but being prepared and having a plan can give you peace of mind.

Plus, you can recover quickly instead of playing catch-up on the backside of an unfortunate data breach. The following quick-response fundamentals are a good place to start:

  • Be prepared to take the infected computer offline. Disconnect it from your network immediately to avoid virus or malware infection across the network.
  • Change your system passwords on a computer that’s uninfected. Do the same for your social media accounts, any email services and other third-party applications you use.
  • Communicate with your IT department or a trusted IT professional to begin treating the infected computer or network.

Keep in mind that a cyberattack or data breach has the potential for broad liability. Patient data, practice data and sensitive personal and financial data are at risk.

Incident responsiveness can help reduce the damage and your recovery timeline.

3-Audit your security protocols

Again, this is where IT and cybersecurity professionals can make a substantial difference. They’re equipped to assure that you have the proper security measures. They can evaluate your back-up and recovery plans and provide best-practice security guidance and implementation. To audit your security protocols:

  • Review your dental practice management system. Know the location of your valuable and sensitive data.
  • Have your system scanned to detect any vulnerabilities across all your connected devices, your workflows and operational processes.
  • Apply urgent status to any vulnerabilities that require attention.
  • Keep your IT team and staff in the loop regarding security protocols, audit details and recovery solutions.

Awareness, preparation and protective protocols are cybersecurity essentials. The following resource provides similar and detailed guidance on this vital topic:

Build your practice on a “secure” foundation and manage your data on an all-in-one dental KPI dashboard

The Jarvis Analytics platform helps assure that you’re securely tracking the important metrics and staying on track with your goals as your dental practice and/or DSO grows and expands.

Jarvis Analytics:

  • Integrates seamlessly with your chosen practice management software/platform
  • Presents the metrics you want and need in an easy-to-view dental dashboard that reduces data complexity for growing dental practices, dental groups and DSOs

Experience Jarvis Analytics in action. Request a demo today!


Contact us for more information about data analytics that lead to profitability.


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