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11 Tips to keep your practice management data safe

By June 22, 2021June 9th, 2022No Comments

Cybersecurity and network security threats continue to be major risks for veterinary practice owners looking to integrate technology into their practice. Data security for practice owners, therefore, becomes crucial to ensure that data is not compromised, which can result in legal and financial damage.

For practice owners, however, there is little information on what they can do to protect themselves from unauthorized entities trying to get hold of their data. Even for veterinary hospitals that take cybersecurity and network security threats seriously, there is little emphasis on what the hospital staff and practice owners should do to protect their data.

Tips on how veterinary practice owners can protect their data

Limiting access

Practice owners should be able to limit access to crucial data in their practice. Data access should be granted depending on the roles and positions staffers in veterinary hospitals have. Limiting data access ensures that unauthorized access of data is impossible and users only see data that is useful for their work.

Limiting data also ensures that clients’ data, management discussions and restricted information are not leaked to external sources. In case of a leak in data, user access also helps in tracking the person responsible for data leaks or data compromise in a veterinary practice.

Mobile device poses a significant threat

Veterinary practices, in a bid to reduce the hardware costs and enable staff to work from anywhere sometimes allow them to bring their own devices to a company.

Mobile devices are the most ignored devices which most staff are allowed to use as an alternative to their office computers. However, they are the most prone devices to fall into the wrong hands.

To protect data, practice owners should make it a policy that no mobile devices should be used for company communications including email, creating company calendars and keeping valuable client information. All data should be kept in security devices that can be monitored by the practice owners or IT technicians to ensure that no data is lost due to mobile devices falling into the wrong hands.

Not being sloppy with passwords

Practice owners should ensure that their passwords are well protected and only they have the passwords.

Creating weak passwords that are easy to guess, using one password for all your devices and sharing passwords by practice owners is not recommended as it will put all the data practice owners are looking to protect in jeopardy. Are you still using the defualt password for your practice management system provided to you by your software vendor?

Practice owners should implement techniques such as two-factor authentication in all their accounts and their staff’s accounts to ensure that the data is always safe. In case passwords are compromised, techniques such as password recovery and changing of passwords to compromised networks should be put in place to ensure that the damage caused is controlled before it results in legal and financial damages.

Verifying data before using it

Data verification is an important step in ensuring that your data is protected. Sending personal data to unintended persons can result in huge data compromises for a veterinary hospital.

Take for instance banking transactions that involve large transfers of money. Veterinary owners, without verification, can send either unintended amount to staff or their clients or even send money to unintended accounts. This may result in huge financial losses for practice owners and leave them vulnerable to future attacks.

Updating systems and Software

Securing your computer system through regular software updates is also a perfect way to ensure that your data is always protected.

Most security issues in software are solved through the release of software updates. Failing to update software and computer system to the latest version allows hackers and other programs such as malware and viruses to compromise veterinary practice networks resulting in unauthorized access to data or damage of data by unauthorized agents.

Data encryption

Practice owners should ensure that the platforms they use have data encryption, especially for day to day software used for communication. Lack of strong encryption means that data can be intercepted through a middle-man attack and all the communication between practice owners and clients, clients and veterinary hospital staff and personal communications between these groups is open to unauthorized persons.

Data encryption is also important as it ensures that data will be viewed only by the intended persons. Therefore, practice owners should ensure that they use data encryption for safety communications.

Avoid shared admin accounts

As a practice owner, sharing admin accounts with hospital staff can be a costly mistake due to the risks involved in entrusting valuable personal and high-level data to third parties. Veterinary hospital staff are vulnerable to sharing more than they ought to be and if they have admin passwords for a veterinary practice, it is not unimaginable that they might share that information with malicious people that can inflict harm to your data and practice. Through a hacking technique known as social engineering. One reason veterinary hospitals are at such a high risk of cyber attacks is due to the highly empathetic and trusting staff that work within the hospital. Allowing hackers to take advantage of these traits.

Sharing admin passwords can also expose a practice owner to blackmail, especially where passwords shared involve the core running of the businesses. Small disagreement can result in staff who have your information to use it as leverage to get what they want or hurt a practice. Therefore, it is always important to keep admin accounts restricted to only people who are authorized to have them.

Avoid external connection to your network

Allowing external connections to your networks such as the ability of external devices connecting remotely to your devices can also result in data compromise.

External connections can also be through a connection of devices such as USBs which may contain malware that alters your file system resulting in data loss or unauthorized data transfers. Therefore, it is important for practice owners to remain vigilant on the type of devices that can access the network and the access which such devices can have.

A better policy for practice owners that ensures their data is protected is by banning the usage of USB devices and other external devices from remotely connecting to the network. USB portals should also be closed, and ensure that they are not being used to charge other electronic devices such as mobile phones.

Data backup and recovery

In case of data loss or cyber attacks by hackers, it is important for practice owners to have a plan on how they can recover data lost again. This is why it is important for veterinary practitioners who rely heavily on technology to back up their data regularly. With the Lucca Datta Vault we can back up your data as frequently as every 15mins.

This ensures that if the practice is hit by hackers and all their contents, either deleted or compromised, they can be able to restore the data and continue with the work they were doing before they were compromised. Backups give assurances to practice owners that, in case something happens, they will still be able to continue their operations.

Avoiding unknown links

On a personal level, practice owners should avoid clicking on unknown links, especially those sent through email. This is because it is one of the riskiest ways for a computer system to become infected with viruses and malware that can lead to data loss or data compromise.

Ensuring that anti-virus and anti-malware is available

Having an antivirus and anti-malware installed in veterinary hospitals’ computer systems is a great way of ensuring that virus and malware that can result in data loss and data compromises are kept at bay.

Therefore, practice owners need to ensure that they have the latest versions of anti-virus and anti-malware programs on their systems to help them protect their data.

If you are interested in how Lucca can help you to keep your practice management data safe. Please visit www.Lucca.vet and download our FREE eBook ‘5 Simple Steps to Protect Your Practice’.

Peace Love & Plants

Clint Latham J.D.

Director of Veterinary Data Security