Just like humans, computers can contract illnesses too. Unfortunately, chicken noodle soup and lots of rest won’t help; the only true blue cure is prevention. How do we prevent our bodies from contracting illnesses? We exercise, eat right, manage our stress levels effectively, and some of us even take vitamins.

 

Many people out there just don’t realize how easy it is to practice prevention online. Like our own health, we don’t practice prevention the way we should. We forget. Or we don’t think it’s important right now. But it is. All the time. There is a frame of mind we all need to eliminate when it comes to hackers’ accessibility. They may just be people, but they have access to a whole host of resources that allow them to work twenty-four-seven. Here are just a few examples of some of the most profound hacking activity:

Yahoo (2013 – 2017) – 3 billion accounts hacked.

The Wannacry Ransomware (May 2017) – struck 150 countries all over the globe, including healthcare and car companies.

Voter records exposed (June 2017) – Over 200 million voter records were exposed online due to a misconfiguration of a security setting.

Equifax (July 2017) – Compromised more than 200 million Americans (and even some Canadians).

 

These are just a few examples out of the 9 named in CNN Money’s article “The Hacks that Left us Exposed in 2017.” Once a hacker gets in, they’re in, and the information on your computer is instantly compromised. This is why it is so important to keep all the doors locked and prevent illnesses and loss of information. Here are just a few prevention techniques to keep in mind.

 

Keep up to date

Your first line of defence is keeping your system updated. Are you still running Windows 8.1? Windows 7? Windows XP? You want to keep the doors to all confidential information locked, so yes, technically, Windows 7 and 8.1 act as locks, because they can still be updated and supported; however, those locks are old and worn and if someone was determined to get in, it wouldn’t take too much effort.

 

On the other hand, Windows XP is no longer providing updates or support, so it’s like leaving that door wide open for just anyone to walk in and take whatever they want.

 

As an example of how important it is to update, take Equifax. What happened there exactly? “Hackers infiltrated Equifax through a flaw in a tool called Apache Struts, which is used to build web applications. The flaw was identified and disclosed in March.”2 In other words, Equifax knew about the flaw. CNN reported that “Equifax’s machines were not all updated and protected even months later, allowing the hackers entry.”2 This is the perfect example of leaving the door to millions of people’s information wide open.

 

Don’t click the link

If a link looks even remotely sketchy in your email, on your phone, or on the left or right windowpane of an online site, do not click. Don’t click to close. Don’t click at all! Ignore at all costs. The issues that can develop from clicking even just once range from viruses and worms to exploits and ransomware.

 

Ignore the imposters

There will be imposters out there offering solutions in the form of snake oil to prevent computer illnesses, these imposters might even tell you that your computer is already sick, you just didn’t know.

NOT TRUE. The point of these imposters is to gain access to your computer in order to make it sick so that they can then turn around and demand money for their snake oil. Don’t be fooled. Many dental offices have been targets of this kind of scam, I’m now calling the “Hi, I’m from Microsoft” Scam.

You receive a call from someone saying they’re either from Microsoft or Google and insisting that there is a virus on your computer. This is just another version of Scareware. Scammers scare their victims by saying that there is a virus on their computer and that they just need access in order to fix it with their snake oil.

 

Here are the facts: No one from Microsoft or Google is going to call you specifically. It just doesn’t happen. These are giant corporations that I promise are not paying attention to anyone’s computer or the viruses they may contract. The only correspondence you will get from either of these companies is going to be by email to either attempt selling you something or to give you updates on changes in the privacy policy or user agreement. Again, receiving a phone call from Microsoft or Google is 100% a scam!

 

When someone calls with the claim “I’m from Microsoft or Google.” Your answer is always to hang up and don’t look back. Do not engage. Do not give them access.

 

But . . . what happens if your computer does get sick?

Part of prevention is being proactive when it comes to yours and your patient’s confidential information, including medical records and financial information. To be protected against the worst possible scenario, there is only one thing to do: backup backup backup!

 

Maxident has their own backup plans to assist, such as Handi-backup and MaxiVault (Monitored offsite backup). For more information, visit https://maxidentsoftware.com/products/cloud-back-up/ , contact your account manager, or, if you’re interested in learning more about Maxident, contact Christian at 1-800-663-7199 ext. 203.

 

But there are other ways to back up, too—USB flash drive, for example. Whatever way you choose, is the right way for your practice. Backing up guarantees that should that heavily locked door be breached, there is a locked safe that you can access to get your dental practice up and running smoothly again.

 

Prevention eliminates human error from the equation and makes it that much more difficult for hackers to make your computer sick and your dental practice and all your patients, the victims of a scam.

 

Below are links to the resources I used to write this article. Please don’t hesitate to check them out, especially the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Youtube video that talks all about the Equifax breach with a little bit of humor mixed in. Also, take our quiz that asks you questions about what to do when you’re faced with an online or offline scam and see if you have the knowledge it takes to fight back. Good luck!

 


 

Resources

  1. The hacks that left us exposed in 2017
  2. Why hacks like Equifax will keep happening
  3. How the Equifax data breach happened: What we know now
  4. Equifax: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)