Emails are part of the veterinary practice and are used regularly to communicate between veterinary hospitals, clients, veterinary practitioners and carrying out other official duties such as keeping calendars for doctors or even scheduling meetings with clients.
However, emails also form one of the weakest links to veterinary hospitals, where unauthorized parties can easily access them. There are numerous threats that target email and that can be used to compromise a veterinary practice.
Common Email threats
Emails are mostly overlooked when creating security measures for veterinary hospitals. However, for hackers and other unauthorized users looking to gain access to valuable information about the practice, they remain among the top preferred choice of attacks to compromise an organization. Some of the methods used to access and compromise emails include:
These are emails sent obscured as a trusted source asking veterinary practice owners to take action, such as changing their password or providing their DEA controlled substance info. They mostly contain a link to a page designed to look like legitimate sites that the users think they are in. However, these sites are just pages that have been put together to steal valuable information entered in these forms to be used to compromise your identity and your business.
Protecting against Phishing
Although not complex to detect, phishing scams are still used to date and many people and hospitals fall for them. As a veterinary practice owner, proper training about identifying authentic emails and how to report on phishing emails is important to help your practice keep safe.
Handling files sent through email has always been a challenging task for veterinary practices who receive multiple emails in a day containing documents and files that need to be downloaded to access them.
Hackers and other unauthorized users see an opening in these constant emails and they might send their email with files. However, these files are compromised and contain small pieces of software, such as malware and ransomware that are hard to detect.
When downloaded, these files install themselves as programs in your computer without your knowledge and lay there searching for important data in your computer. These malware and ransomware are then able to send the data to a server or to hackers and the data can be used against veterinary hospitals.
Protecting against malicious files
To avoid downloading malicious files that are sent to you, you should first set up your email account to scan documents and other files before your download. This will ensure that these malicious files are caught before making their way to your computer.
Lucca Email Guard
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Another important step you can take as a veterinary practitioner is ensuring that your computer has an antivirus and antimalware. This ensures that malicious files such as malware and viruses that have not been caught by the email scanners are able to be caught by these antiviruses and isolated or deleted to keep your computers safe. It’s also important to that your antivirus protection is AI, machine learning and key signature based.
Email misconfiguration mostly does not require a malicious user to acquire your emails. However, it gives unauthorized users access and can go undetected in a large setting such as a veterinary practice setting.
It happens when email configurations such as groups being creating with different roles and privileges are signed to users who are not the intended targets. These users may decide not to notify IT experts and continue receiving confidential emails in the organization that they are not supposed to be accessing.
Protecting against email misconfiguration
A veterinary practice should ensure that the staff is trained on the different roles and emails they are supposed to be getting. This would ensure that all the staff members are on the same page about what to do when they receive an email that they deem it is not addressed to them.
IT support teams and veterinary practitioners should also always ensure that unauthorized persons are not sharing their emails by running regular audits to see who can access the emails sent in the organizations or personal emails. This will further ensure that a practitioner’s email is secure.
Other common email threats
Other common email threats such as email harvesting, where company email addresses and collected en masse and used to harvest valuable information, can also pose a threat to a veterinary practice.
Using weak emails can also compromise the security of your practice and make your data easily accessible to unauthorized parties who can easily guess your password. This negligence can also be compared to using unsecured Wi-Fi using office emails that enables hackers to access them. Running outdated security software is also negligence that a practitioner must consider not to use in order to keep their emails safe.
Social engineering and manipulation, where humans form the weakest link and are compromised as gateways to access valuable information through emails, is also a common threat that practice owners should consider training their employees about whom to trust and how to verify authentic emails and how much information to send in case they are asked. Practitioners should also be advised never to send any personal data over emails as it might be compromised.
What hackers can gain through your email
It is important to protect your email from unauthorized entities because, as a veterinary practitioner, there is a lot of data available in our emails that are only meant for us and that can be used against us. Such data include:-
Access to your contracts: Hackers can manage to access your email and access all the contracts you have entered with your vendors. This information can be valuable to your competitors, who can use such information to destroy your practice after gaining information about your business partners.
Hackers can also send emails using your account: This means that they can gain the trust that they require and use your account as a phishing account against your clients, resulting in damages. This is one of the most common threats being deployed to veterinary practices. The hacker will start sending fake invoices to all of your clients for services they have already paid for.
Hackers are also able to access your financial activity and your identity. Identity theft is a big business for scammers and with your financial information, your email, your tax forms, photos, and other valuable information that is stored in emails, these hackers can be able to use your identity to run scams, including approaching people close to veterinary practices with an aim to defraud them. Unfortunately, with this much information, it is very hard for the victims to not fall for scams, hence the need to keep emails safe.
Contacts of your business partners and your practice’s events calendar: By gaining this information, hackers can easily be able to sell the information to your competitors or destroy your practice through malicious defrauding schemes. They can also hold veterinary hospitals at ransom and blackmail using the information they have gained through the compromised email accounts.
Setting up a safer email
Veterinary practitioners should ensure that their emails are encrypted. This ensures that no unauthorized users can be able to gain access to these emails.
Ensuring that the emails are also properly configured and your staff is directed to use strong passwords also helps in ensuring that your practice emails are safeguarded.
Training staff about the proper way of handling emails, email threats and how to respond to email compromise is also important for your practice’s security. It also ensures that your place of work is well prepared to handle type of compromise that might occur professionally.
If you would like to start protecting your email accounts with the Lucca Email Guard, shoot me an email at email@example.com and we can get you setup for as little as $10 per email account.
Clint Latham J.D
Director of Veterinary Security