Is There a Cybersecurity Imposter in Your Dental Practice?


March 27, 2024
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Anne Genge

Anne Genge is on a mission to make dentistry safer online. With over two decades of experience, Anne has become a leading expert and trainer in privacy & cybersecurity for dental practices.

Dental practices have to defend themselves against the same types of cyber attacks as multinational corporations, yet they have far less budget to do so. Additionally, like big corporations and hospitals, the dental industry is not immune to the widespread shortage of qualified IT and cybersecurity providers.

As a cybersecurity instructor and risk assessment specialist, I’ve seen a disturbing trend of practices relying on IT services that lack a deep understanding of cybersecurity.

In many cases, these providers install an antivirus and a firewall, then consider the job done. The reality, however, is much more complex.

A truly secure environment requires not just baseline IT services, but also a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy carried out by a certified professional.

But how do you differentiate between a typical IT provider and a cybersecurity provider, and why is this distinction so crucial to your practice’s security?

Understanding the Distinction: IT Provider vs. Cybersecurity Provider

IT providers are tech experts who manage the hardware, software, and networks within an organization.

Their tasks are broad, including setting up systems, fixing technical glitches, and ensuring that the technology infrastructure operates smoothly.

On the other hand, cybersecurity providers are specialized professionals who focus on protecting organizations from digital threats.

They deploy advanced tools, conduct regular threat assessments, and implement protocols designed to safeguard sensitive data.

Requirements for Certification 

To become a Certified Cybersecurity Professional, individuals typically need to pass an exam that covers a range of cybersecurity topics. These exams often require candidates to have a certain amount of work experience in the field, as well as a strong understanding of cybersecurity principles and best practices. Maintaining certification may also require ongoing professional development and continuing education.

source: ICS2

While an IT provider can handle routine technical issues, a cybersecurity provider has the expertise to identify and mitigate cyber threats effectively.

Consider the difference as analogous to general dentistry versus endodontics. Both are essential, but each requires distinct training and skills.

A general dentist can’t simply buy a microscope and call themselves an endodontist. Similarly, with cybersecurity, it is specialized training and experience using the technology that makes the difference.

The Role of Certified Cybersecurity Professionals in Dental Practices

While the day-to-day IT operations are often well handled by experienced dental IT providers, many dentists have also hired cybersecurity specialists to oversee this aspect and work together with the IT provider to create the best protection, stability, efficiency, and compliance with regulatory bodies. Here’s why:

  1. Competence:

Certification ensures that your cybersecurity provider possesses the required knowledge and skills. Certified professionals adhere to industry standards and are equipped to handle evolving cyber threats. Like dentists, they are required to keep up with CPE.

  1. Compliance:

Healthcare organizations, including dental practices, are subject to regulations like PIPDEA, provincial laws, and college guidelines. A certified cybersecurity professional will understand these requirements and ensure your practice remains compliant.

  1. Trust:

When your patients entrust you with their personal information, they expect you to protect it. By working with a certified cybersecurity provider, you can assure your patients that their data is in safe hands.

  1. Unbiased Professional Evaluation:

The most popular way dental practices engage with a cybersecurity professional is for professional risk assessments, help with risk management, and backup/business continuity planning. In these scenarios, they provide unbiased evaluation, management plans, and ongoing higher-tier support, while steering clear of selling ‘day-to-day’ IT support.

Identifying a Cybersecurity Imposter

The first step is contracting a cybersecurity professional to perform a security risk assessment to identify gaps in your current IT services.

Does your IT provider understand the unique security challenges faced by dental practices? Have they implemented a multi-layered security approach beyond basic antivirus and firewall solutions?

Do they have a comprehensive understanding of compliance? (generally demonstrated through continuing education)

A qualified cybersecurity provider will prioritize ongoing risk assessments, patch management, employee training, and incident response planning.

If your current provider isn’t offering these services, it may be time to consider whether you have a cybersecurity imposter on your hands.

Moving Forward Securely: The Need for Certified Cybersecurity Professionals

As cyber threats become more sophisticated, it’s more crucial than ever for dental practices to rely on certified cybersecurity professionals.

Just as you are committed to your patient’s oral health, a dedicated cybersecurity provider will be committed to your practice’s digital health.

Remember, your cybersecurity strategy should be as robust as your approach to dentistry, and that starts with understanding the difference between an IT provider and a cybersecurity professional.

Strengthening Cybersecurity in Dental Practices

In conclusion, safeguarding sensitive data and protecting against cyber threats are paramount in today’s digital landscape, especially for dental practices. The distinction between IT providers and cybersecurity professionals is crucial, emphasizing the need for certified experts in cybersecurity to ensure comprehensive protection.

By partnering with professionals and taking cybersecurity training, dental practices can enhance their security measures, maintain compliance with regulations, and build trust with patients. It is imperative for dental practices to prioritize cybersecurity and work towards creating a secure environment that safeguards patient information effectively.

Remember, investing in cybersecurity is an investment in the future of your practice and the trust of your patients.

Originally posted: Anne Genge

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