The front desk attendant is checking the office email from her desk. It appears that one of the practice’s vendors has sent an electronic card thanking the staff for their business. When she clicks on it a sinister message appears saying that the server has been hacked and all the practice’s data is being held for ransom to the tune of $30,000.

This type of scenario can make any physician’s blood go cold. It is terrifying. And what is even worse is that this scenario is playing out with regularity across the country. Hackers aren’t just super-villains from the movies anymore. They may pose a real threat to your practice. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Find the right partner. Even the most tech-savvy of physicians must admit that cyber security is beyond the scope of their knowledge. Even if your server and software are up and running and everything is working smoothly, it’s a good idea to find a company to handle your cybersecurity and create a strategy to back up all your data. Don’t just ask your web designer or intern to install some security software and be done with it. Make a real investment in a cyber security specialist who has experience in protecting medical practices.

Training your staff. According to an article in Medical Economics, a good deal of the security breaches that occur happen as the result of human error. In other words, if your staff is not trained in basic cyber security best practices, then they may unwittingly be opening the door to hackers. Consult with your cyber security expert to see what courses are available to train your staff or perhaps this is even a service he or she provides.

Check your defenses. Securing your server and your data is not a one-time thing. Your defenses need to be reassessed on a regular basis. Just as you review other basic procedures in your practice, make sure you build time into practice management for security review. The hackers are working hard to find ways past the defenses we build. Don’t make their job easy; protect your practice.