Veterinarians: Are You Protecting Your Client And Patient Data Well Enough?

Eleanor had heard of data breaches, but she never thought it would happen to her business. She was a veterinary surgeon in a small rural veterinary practice. Small business data didn’t matter to big-time cybercriminals, right?

Now her practice was facing up to $200,000 in ransomware cleanup. Eleanor had to shut her businesses’ doors for a week because they didn’t have access to their Patient Information Management System. The costs were adding up, from hiring an investigation service to purchasing new hardware. Would her practice survive, or like 60% of small businesses that are hacked, would it go out of business?

When considering security, few veterinarians or veterinary surgeons have their practice’s cybersecurity at the top of their list. Yet, in today’s world, it is a high-priority concern. Veterinarians and veterinary surgeons have data on their clients and the patients they serve.

Protecting their data ensures that a veterinary practice can keep its doors open and help even more animals. Because small businesses are at high risk for cybercrime, they need to protect the data they collect.

In this article, you’ll read about the risk management of cybersecurity. Then learn about small steps you can take today to protect your client and patient data in your veterinary practice.

Speaking of risk management, it’s always a good idea to routinely assess your business’ risk through insurance audits. You may have one of the most necessary insurances missing, or you may find that your premiums could be reduced. Contact Loyall Group today for a comprehensive review of your practice’s insurances, and manage your risk well.

Cybersecurity for veterinarians is about risk management.

As Congressman James Langevin shared in this CSIS Panel, “There’s no such thing as perfect cybersecurity … I’d say cybersecurity is really about risk management”. Cybersecurity is a topic that is here to stay. As a veterinary surgeon or a practice owner, you will be responsible for managing the risk of sensitive information. The good news is that there are practical steps for you to follow.

Many veterinary surgeons believe that they will not be a target because of the small size of their practice. However, any business that collects client data or even does online banking is at risk. Because all veterinary practices keep sensitive client data, they are at risk of an attack.

You already put measures and policies in place to protect your business in the event of an emergency. Cybersecurity measures should be a part of this protection. You can lower your risk of a cyber attack and be better prepared for when one occurs. Begin by taking preventative measures and providing continual oversight of your client and patient data.

Taking preventative steps and routine monitoring lowers your risk of a data breach.

This report from Krebon Security shows that some of the most protective actions a practice can take are preventative steps and continual monitoring of their systems. Mitigating your cyber liability risk means putting into place a framework of data security. VetPartners, a nonprofit association of veterinary business specialists, suggests multiple questions to ask yourself in setting up this framework.

Take the time to think through some of the following measures to lower your risk of a client and patient data breach:

  • Consider which employees have access to entries of data information, such as banking accounts, patient information management systems, and IT networks.
  • Requirements of password complexity and how often to change passwords.
  • Annual training of employees in cybersecurity.
  • Routine training of employees in cyberattack methods, such as email click-baits.

Because human error is responsible for most cyber attacks, one of the best ways to lower your cyber risk is through preventative measures.

Many veterinary surgeons are not prepared to act quickly in the event of a data attack. Making backups of data, routinely scanning hardware and systems, and investing in cyber insurance are a few of the ways to detect threats and respond quickly to a breach.

How to protect your veterinary practice against cyberattacks in 5 steps

The National Institute of Standards and Technology shared five simple steps to protect your small business. Using these five steps gets you further down the road to a high level of data protection and lowers your cyber risk.

  • Identify

Identify and make a list of your hardware, software, and points of data entry.

Take a survey of your employees and their cybersecurity knowledge.

  • Protect

Invest in cybersecurity insurance now to decrease your liabilities later.

Re-evaluate all password complexities and change if needed.

Consider investing in encrypted computer systems and software.

Routinely backup and update data and devices.

Train all employees on proper cybersecurity measures. Host regular follow-up and new information sessions to keep all employees up to date.

  • Detect

Perform routine checks on your network and computers for unauthorized users or activity.

Consider hiring an IT firm to complete regular sweeps of all devices, software, and networks.

  • Respond

Create a cybersecurity policy and emergency plan for your business.

Have a list of key contacts, such as lawyers and IT professionals, given by your insurance company who you can call in the case of a data breach.

Understand how you will notify clients in the event of a data breach and how you will seek to retain quality customer relationships.

  • Recover

Keep all your employees and clients informed about the steps you took to contain the attack and recover from it.

Learn from mistakes and write new strategies based on failures into your policies and plan for the future.

Repair any equipment, and consider upgrading equipment or security measures.

While cyber risks are inevitable, managing your risk through preventative measures and routine monitoring ensures you protect client and patient data well. Keep learning about cybersecurity, and adjust your practices based on your knowledge. You can protect not only your clients but your veterinary practice from the destructiveness of a cyber attack.

Interested in learning more about obtaining cyber liability coverage for your veterinary business? Loyall Group specializes in finding the best insurance solutions for your veterinary practice so that you are free to focus on what matters. Reach out today for a quick consultation call to obtain a quote.