You owe it to all the pet owners with their name, address, credit card information, and who knows what else in your records.
There’s also a more selfish reason why vet clinics need to keep their systems secure. If your IT systems go down for an extended period of time, you’re going to lose some business, which means you’re going to lose money.
And you can’t think that just because you’re a vet clinic that you’ll never be targeted by cybercriminals. Cybercriminals look for very simple criteria when finding businesses to hack:
That’s it. So long as they can get in, it’s worth their time to invade your systems, install malware, hold your data hostage, and bring your business down.
So you can’t take IT security for granted. Here are 5 tips that will help your vet clinic improve its cyber security:
There are a few basic things you can do that will immediately improve how protected your network is from unauthorized access. Passwords should be strong, long but easy to remember, with some special characters thrown in for good measure. Also, passwords should be changed regularly, and no one at your clinic should use the same password for two different accounts.
Security questions are also important. Many accounts are breached from just the security questions being easy enough to guess. Allow yourself a few extra moments when setting up security questions to confirm that your answers are truly unique.
Antivirus software is not complete the first time you install it. It’s fine for a while, but cybercriminals are always chipping away at the program’s defenses. Eventually they find a soft spot and break through. Also, new viruses and other malware are created all the time, and security software may not come with the necessary information for the newest threats on the Internet.
Thankfully, antivirus providers keep track of how they’re being exploited. In response, they’re constantly releasing patches to cover up the latest cracks or defend against the newest threats. Some programs update automatically, but it’s up to you to find out if you need to manually download and install patches.
Some phishers are more convincing than others. False Nigerians princes are easy to spot. But there are more clever scammers that might be able to trick you or one of your employees into downloading something malicious.
For example, some professional phishers have found success in impersonating the DMV or the IRS, warning you about overdue parking tickets or unpaid taxes. They send a well-polished email from an authentic-looking address; the content is well-written and sounds professional enough and they put you on the defensive by threating you with fines, or if they’re bold enough even a criminal offense.
Of course, they also tell you that fines/jail time can be avoided if you pay them in full now with the attached payment software. Once downloaded, the payment software turns out to be just a shell for potentially devastating malware, and maybe they got your social security number and credit card information to work with, too. It’s a well-crafted con that has tricked even the most tech-savvy among us.
Train your employees to never open email attachments from a source they’re not 100% sure about.
Many vet clinics are on a tight budget. This usually means there isn’t much allotted to invest in IT equipment. This is a mistake. Businesses with outdated systems have more weak spots and are more likely to be attacked.
While costs can be prohibitive, also consider that some upgrades, such as migrating on-site servers to the cloud, offer both a better service and a better price compared to your previous solution.
When something goes wrong, backups can really save you.
There is always the chance of a freak weather pattern, some ugly tornado scene or weeks of rain that flood your building (and your servers). Downtime caused by physical damage to on-site equipment can be fixed relatively quickly if you have a solid backup plan is in place, maybe an outsourced cloud service that stores backups on a remote server.
But it’s more likely you will need a backup solution because of a web-borne attack than a thunderstorm. Ransomware is a new trend among cybercriminals. It encrypts your computer and will only unlock it if you pay your captors a fee, anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. If you refuse to pay up, they’ll delete everything.
Without backup, you would have to choose between two bad options. You can pay them off, lose a lot of money, and provide further incentive for these cybercriminals to keep practicing extortion. Or you can refuse and lose a whole hard drive, which could be filled with many weeks of work that will now have to be made up.
With backup, you can ignore both of those bad options and seize control of the situation. Go ahead; let them wipe your laptop. You can restore almost all the data that was deleted. The cybercriminals lose, and you don’t have to lose any data.
Too many vet clinics have ignored cyber security and regretted it. The best way to get started truly protecting yourself is to discover where you’re vulnerable: That’s where IT-Simplified comes in.
Our Pet Connect: Protect program offers vulnerability testing to help you discover any weakpoints in your defenses, so together we can create a simple, cost-effective plan for improving IT security without disrupting business.
Contact us at (866) 338-5289 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary vulnerability assessment, and get started truly protecting yourself from whatever threats the future holds.