What is Phishing and How Can You Keep Your Practice Safe?


Cybersecurity is an area of concern for most industries today, but the healthcare industry seems to be , likely because of how lucrative healthcare data is for cybercriminals. It’s estimated each record obtained is worth roughly $250. One of the most common tactics cyber criminals will use is phishing. Let’s talk about what phishing is, the associated risks, and how to guard against these attacks.

What is phishing?

Phishing, which first became a threat in the mid-1990s, involves a cyber criminal, posing as a trusted entity, sending emails or other messages designed to trick the recipient to providing information or downloading a corrupt file. Because phishing is cheap and effective, it’s a favorite method among attackers. It’s cheap because email costs nothing, and it’s effective because cyber criminals know how to design their emails to look legitimate and understand the right things to say to attract the recipients’ attention and encourage their compliance. Often, phishing is the starting point for a bigger attack, such as ransomware.

What are the biggest risks with phishing?

There are essentially three elements that cyber criminals will include in a phishing email that pose the biggest risk to the recipient. The first of these elements is a malicious link. Attackers will include a link that looks legitimate, but will take the user to an imposter website that’s infected with malicious software, such as malware.

The next element is a malicious attachment. Again, these appear to be legitimate, but when the user clicks on the file their computer becomes infected, often with ransomware. Occasionally, these files will download something like a keystroke logger so that the attackers can obtain login credentials and other sensitive information.

Finally, attackers will include inauthentic forms in their phishing emails. These forms appear legitimate, but when the recipient fills the form out they’ve directly provided the attackers with personal information.

5 Ways to Guard Against Phishing

There are a number of ways to guard against phishing, and each of them plays an important piece in the overall puzzle of cybersecurity.

  1. Remain vigilant and be skeptical of any outside communications, especially those that sound alarming. Cyber criminals are adept at creating a sense of urgency and putting recipients into a state of panic so they’ll react quickly, providing information they otherwise wouldn’t, without first thinking about the legitimacy of the message they’ve received Another option is to click on the “From” field to make sure that the message that is displayed matches who the email is stated to be from. For example, if you receive an email stating it’s from Henry Schein, click on the sender and make sure the email address that comes up ends in henryschein.com.
  2. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of an email, do not click on anything in it. In other words, do not open or download any attachments or click on any links in an email unless you are 100% certain the message is authentic.
  3. Make sure your operating system and software are up to date. Cyber criminals exploit vulnerabilities in networks, and out of date applications provide an easy point of entry for attackers. Implement a regular system maintenance schedule for your organization and stick to it to reduce the opportunities for bad actors.
  4. Utilize security software such as an anti-phishing plugin or toolbar on your browser, or another anti-virus application, and make sure it remains updated so that phishing messages can be identified and eliminated before they even hit your inbox.
  5. Implement a contract with a professional cybersecurity firm for your practice. While this is typically a large investment, it’s also the best possible way to protect your practice from a variety of cyber threats, including phishing.

Adequate security against phishing requires a multi-faceted approach using all of the strategies above. By prioritizing an awareness of and vigilance toward phishing, you can protect your practice from a great deal of damage.

Is your practice adequately protected against threats such as phishing? If you aren’t sure, odds are it isn’t. Henry Schein SolutionsHub understands the importance of protecting your practice and your patients’ data, and that’s why we have carefully searched to find the best cybersecurity vendors for your practice to partner with. Check out the link below to see what we have to offer or reach out to SolutionsHub to learn more.

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