Today's Veterinary Business

DEC 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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8 Today's Veterinary Business Business Business TECHNOLOGY A layered approach is necessary to protect hospitals from the many nasty threats in today's world. The leading threat is ransomware, a virus that encrypts your data, holds it hostage and causes major down- time. I have seen malware infections shut down hospitals' computers and networks for three to five days and in some cases two weeks. In a 2017 survey of 1,700 IT professionals, 75 percent report- ed that ransomware had led to business-threating downtime and 57 percent stated that ransomware had caused the loss of data and even hardware. Even if you think your comput- ers and networks are secure, there is no 100 percent guarantee. However, you can take steps to provide your practice with reasonable security. Here is what I do to virtually stop ransomware attacks at my clients' places of business. Review these seven areas to see if your hospital has gaps that need filling. Backup This is by far the most important measure you must have in place to protect your hospital. Remember that backup systems have changed over time, so a simple data backup is not going to solve your issue. Consider: • RPO (real-time protection option): In other words, how often do you back up your practice data? I recom- mend hourly throughout the business day. At least every 24 hours is a must. • RTO (real-time objective): How quickly can you be up and running should your main server fail? I recommend solutions that can get hospi- tals back online in one hour. I often see RTO solutions of three to five days, so be sure to understand what you have in place before an issue occurs. You don't want a long downtime when your clinic is dependent on technology. Staff Training Cybersecurity and phishing ed- ucation is a must. Malware often gets into computers and networks because of a human mistake. Click- ing a hyperlink in a false email can pave the way for malware. Spam protection doesn't do enough to stop these simple threats, and virus protection can allow the threats to pass through. I work with companies that offer ethical phishing services. These services can phish, or fool, your em- ployees and look for vulnerabilities. These companies educate your team into the habit of identifying mistakes to avoid and can assist your practice in becoming more secure. Operating System Patches Ensure that the computer or device you use has been updated with critical patches. Software and device manufactures often release patches monthly. One example is Microsoft and its Windows oper- ating systems. Microsoft's patches are released every second Tues- day of the month. Ask to see your patching report and make sure all workstations are at least up to date with critical patches. Patches plug security holes that can let malware in, and they help prevent malware from spreading should it get into your computers and networks. Make sure you understand the patching level of every machine on your network. If you have any operating systems that are no longer supported or patched, like Windows XP, it's time for an update. Also keep in mind that support for Windows 7 is set to end about a year from now — in January 2020 Are your computer systems protected from viruses? Backing up data is smart — if done correctly — but it cannot be the only precautionary step. 1 2 7 security essentials Veterinary practices have become more and more dependent on computers and computer networks as they go paperless or paper light. Because of this dependency, having an information technology security strategy is a must to ensure your hospital's computer systems stay functional so that you can schedule appointments, provide medical treatments, and charge clients for your services. By Joseph Axne 3

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