As business IT professionals, we’ve seen some things. Things that would horrify you. Things you would never want to encounter in your own organisation.
We’re talking security breaches, data theft and file corruption. That have brought entire veterinary practices to their knees.
This is something that you – as the practice owner or manager – really don’t want to happen.
Because it only takes one click from a well-meaning member of your team on one bad link. And that could mean the difference between a thriving practice, and disruption so severe, it makes trading impossible.
You don’t need us to tell you that data loss can lead to a huge loss of confidence from your clients.
And often the cost of rectifying a situation such as this can be phenomenal.
So we want to share the secret behind keeping your practice data safe
Of course you should have an IT partner protecting you with a blended security package (blended means getting the right mix of security products that protect you and your staff, without inconveniencing you while you’re trying to work. It’s a balancing act).
But there’s something else, that in our view every veterinary practice should invest in, every year.
Cyber security training.
Though it may sound simple, you’d be surprised to learn how many practices underestimate the importance of company-wide security awareness.
And yes, we really do mean company-wide.
Your whole practice, from the new veterinary nurse to the practice manager or owner, should take part in formal data security training, regularly.
A strong cyber security culture is one of the best ways to keep your practice safe from the increasingly sophisticated threats out there.
Because hackers use automated tools to look for vulnerabilities in every business, all the time.
And yes this includes yours. Remember, it only takes one click from a well-meaning member of your team on one bad link. And that can unwittingly let hackers into your system.
“But my people are savvy professionals. They’re not going to fall for a scam”
We hear this often.
And yes, your people are savvy, but so are cyber criminals.
Cyber-crime is evolving. And there is always another scammer or hacker around the corner waiting to take advantage of a technology flaw or stressful situation (hello, global pandemic, vet shortages and increased pet ownership).
Your team can never be too prepared.
Take a look at phishing for example. You’ve heard of that, right?
But do you and your team actually know what it is?
Phishing is a common tool used to extract information such as login credentials or credit card details by email, telephone or even text message.
You may think that your team are above falling for an email from their ‘long lost uncle abroad’. But phishing scams have come a long way since those days.
Today, phishing emails are far more convincing. They often claim to come from someone credible, such as your bank, a client, or even a member of your own team!
They’ll ask you to click a link to update your details, or change a password. But instead of being taken to a legitimate website, you’ll be taken to a very convincing duplicate.
And once your details have been entered, you’ve given them away.
Other times, you’re sent an attachment – again, seemingly from someone you know – which, when opened, will install malware on your device (or across your whole network)
This can then allow criminals to steal data, or deny you access to your own information (that’s called crypto locking).
Then we have spear fishing. Instead of phishing, which is aimed at anyone, this is targeted at specific individuals.
Typically the attacker has spent time learning a lot of information about you (your name, role, practice information, etc). And then uses this to their advantage.
If they target someone at the top, this is called whaling (also known as CEO fraud).
They’re targeting people at the top as they have access to the most sensitive data.
Whaling attacks are often planned for a long period of time. And when they work, give huge financial gain to the cyber criminals.
Then there’s pharming, which asks you to take an action on what looks like a familiar website.
Except if you look very carefully, the website address is slightly different to normal. It’s a scam site, and any information you enter will go to the criminals.
There is a scarier version of pharming where the criminals manage to divert traffic going to the real website. These are really hard to detect.
But often there are tiny little clues that give the fake sites away, if you know what to look for.
Spoofing is the term for when you receive an email pretending to be from someone you know – such as your accounts department. And it’s asking you to go to a link to reconfirm your details.
This type of scam is often used to download malware or ransomware rather than to steal your credentials.
Then we have smishing, which is phishing with text messages (SMS). And vishing, which is phishing on the phone, or voice phishing.
You receive a phone call from a blocked or unusual number. The caller will pretend to be from somewhere familiar and ask you to carry out actions, or make a payment.
These are pretty common. So if you or your team are ever unsure, make sure to hang up, then call the company back on the number you have for them (and never the number the caller gives you).
Can your practice really afford to underestimate the importance of good cyber security training?
As you can see, it really does take just one action to open up your practice to this kind of threat.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other ways that cyber criminals will attack your practice.
You many think your people are pretty hot on cyber security. And hopefully you’ve got the latest security software protection across your whole network.
However, it’s always a great idea to add another level of human protection. Because businesses like yours really are prime targets for cyber criminals.
If you’ve never implemented security training before, now is the perfect time to start creating new habits. After all, your team will have seen enough change this year to be open to just about anything!
Employee education is one of the best business tools you can invest in. And it could end up saving your veterinary practice from disaster.
But the benefits of regular training don’t end there. It’s a great motivational tool, too. Your people will feel invested in when they have relevant training, increasing engagement all round.
Remember to make sure that everyone, from bottom to top, undertakes regular training. Because a cyber-criminal really isn’t fussy about who clicks that link… just as long as someone does.
If you don’t currently have an IT partner who can deliver appropriate data security training to your practice, contact us today.
Our team of experts would love to help keep you informed and protected.