Aspen Dental Cybersecurity Breach: Immediate Actions Dental Practices Must Take to Prevent Similar Risks

Recently, a cybersecurity event severely impacted Aspen Dental, one of the leading dental service organizations in the United States. While the company has yet to divulge the details surrounding the breach, the incident emphasizes the need for dental practices and organizations to bolster their cybersecurity defenses. This article will delve into the reasons why dental practices are enticing targets for cybercriminals and suggest practical measures to decrease the risk of a cybersecurity occurrence.

What Happened?

What we know right now is not a complete picture, as Aspen Dental has 60 days before they need to divulge the full details. What we know for certain right now is:

  1. All 1000+ Practices are affected since their PMS software systems are centrally located for all practices
  2. The FBI and CISA is involved and working with Aspen
  3. Over 2+ Million Patient records are under attack
  4. The data was exfiltrated (taken off site) = Automatic Breach
  5. Their Backups might also be compromised

Why do dental practices appeal to cyber attackers?

In general, the dental industry falls short in allocating resources to IT and cybersecurity. Many practices place a higher value on efficiency than security, which leaves them exposed to cyber threats. Moreover, local practice management software frequently lacks proper security features, and several practices rely on local IT providers who may not possess the means to address security issues effectively. As a result, dental practices have become attractive targets for cybercriminals seeking vulnerable and easy prey.

What can dental practices do to lessen the risk of a cybersecurity event?

The initial step is to invest in cybersecurity training for staff members. Often, cybersecurity incidents stem from human mistakes, such as engaging with phishing emails or downloading harmful attachments. Teaching staff about cybersecurity best practices can be instrumental in averting such events. Another practical approach is to implement cloud practice management software equipped with robust security capabilities. Cloud-based software provides an extra layer of defense and guarantees that practice management data remains unharmed by local network issues.

It is also essential to guarantee that the practice's IT infrastructure remains updated and secure. This includes keeping patches and updates current, isolating data from the practice network, and deploying endpoint protection with an active subscription, ransomware countermeasure software, and a security appliance with active subscriptions connecting the internet and the practice network. Conducting a risk assessment on the IT systems can help pinpoint potential weak spots. We are also recommending the implementation of a new layer called a Security Operations Center (SOC) to bolster security.

To sum up, the cybersecurity episode at Aspen Dental should prompt dental practices and organizations to treat cybersecurity with the seriousness it deserves. Although the precise financial ramifications of the incident have yet to be determined, dental practices can take proactive steps to reduce the probability of a similar event unfolding within their organization. By investing in staff cybersecurity education, adopting cloud-based software, and ensuring a secure and up-to-date IT infrastructure, dental practices can decrease the likelihood of a cybersecurity event and protect their patients' confidential data.

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